In May this year, I was contacted by the innovative Jewellery Company, With JK. They were founded in 2016 by Architect and Designer, Joel Kahn. Their vision is to enable people to create their own unique and meaningful jewellery pieces. Rather than a fast fashion item that is mass produced and short lived, their designs are personalised to create timeless pieces of high quality. I love that each piece they make is made to order so there are no wasted materials, overproduction or excess stock. This sustainable and mindful approach to jewellery creation was what made me so excited to launch my collection of 5 rings!
I have always been a creative soul who enjoys the process of designing, experimenting and creating art. Over the years, I have loved dabbling in different art forms and creating my own jewellery. So it was so much fun creating pieces that have a story to share. A special keepsake to remind us of the journey we are on. Especially in the context of riding the waves of life and highs and lows of motherhood. I hope the rings will remind you that you are treasured and unique. To encourage you to tell your own story and know you are not alone.
One of my rings is named after my daughter, Olive. A story of love, perseverance and resilience . This classic signet style ring is a reminder of peace and growth through the challenging times.
Being a mum of two children has taught me a few lessons, and one of the lessons learnt is that we need to be honest with each other and ourselves. My edgy, Melbourne city inspired, Honestly ring, is a statement piece. A powerful display of finding beauty in the heights and depths of life. To be real and find solidarity in honestly supporting each other.
My Be Still ring is an elegant, fine piece to remind us to breathe and be present in the moment.
The Grace ring is a fine signet style with a blooming lotus flower in the centre. It is taken from my tattoo design with a message to be grateful.
Lastly, the Always ring which is a stunning piece that reflects the story of eternity. Inspired by nature, the sun, moon and stars. It is a piece that reminds me of God’s faithfulness and presence, always.
In collaboration with JK, we carefully designed my collection to be available to you! Every custom piece is created using 3D print technology for precise craftsmanship with your favourite metal. They are available in gold, rose gold, platinum, silver and more. They are shipped worldwide for free from their birth place in New York.
I am over the moon with how my collection came to life withJK. They brought my vision into a reality. From the initial discussions to the launch, they have been an amazing business to collaborate with. So to give you insight into the process…. in May, we began with conference calls to discuss the designs of the 5 rings. Using an inspiration book from WithJK’s collection, we were able to refine the designs to reflect their meaning. After a few short weeks of perfecting these prototypes, the samples were created in precious metals via 3D printing in NY. I put together the stories for the website and WithJK created a landing page for the 5 rings.
You know me, I don’t do things by halves! So I worked with an amazing Graphic Designer, Chris Venning, to create the By Natasha Wilton logo. The interwoven N and W reflecting a flow and connection in smooth lines. I hoped to convey a classic and luxurious feel for all women to enjoy and feel special. Here are the contact details for the Graphic Designer who was kindly shared to me by Carlia (@raisingkandt)!
Then it was time to create a few stationery items for branding and packaging. One of my favourite parts of launching a business is designing the packaging! Nerdy I know! The Australian based online printing company, OzStickerPrinting, provided an efficient, affordable and customisable option for my logo stickers. With a quick turnaround and high quality sticker, I am so excited to use these on local orders! You can find their website and extensive branding options here.
By Natasha Wilton launched in June and I am so grateful for every like, comment, DM and response! It is still so surreal and I’m so excited to keep creating. I have included a special discount code when you sign up for my mailing list here. Every ring is designed with a story and infused with my personal style. I hope that you will love wearing these rings as you walk through your own stories in life.
Thank you for allowing me to share my creative journey with you and I hope you love the collection as much as I do!
Luv Me Eco, the Australian owned and based, independent family business changing the planet one bamboo nappy at a time! Kendall Seddon, the CEO and Co-Founder of Luv Me Eco, has poured her heart and soul into creating an eco conscious baby product company that is affordable for families. From the rolling mountains and fresh water lake on their property, Kendall, her Mum who is also her business partner and her family, enjoy the country lifestyle. They live and breathe eco ideology and it was a pleasure to interview Kendall to hear how they have revolutionised the baby product industry.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am originally from Yamba, as I was born in Grafton, but now for the last 20 years have lived on the southern end of the Gold Coast on acreage at Terranora. I am a country girl, love living on the land, animals and still have a few horses. I don’t ride much anymore with being a busy mum of 3. My interests are going to the gym, running, spending time with my family and eating out. I love finding yummy but healthy places to eat at. I also love gardening and cooking. I have a very creative mind so I find gardening and cooking help for me to unwind and create beauty, plus its something fun I can do with my kids too.
Tell us about your business Luv Me Eco and what inspired you to step into the eco conscious baby product industry?
I was sick of the corporate lifestyle that was taking me away from my family too much. I wanted to find something that I would love doing, that would give me the freedom to still be a mum and also leave a legacy. I felt that I needed to leave a big impact with what I would chose to do. Something that would make my family proud of me, but more importantly to be proud of myself. I know that one day when I leave this earth, that I have done everything in my power to make it a better place. Being a mum and from a large family I want to create a baby range that was going to align with being better for our earth. With my corporate sales and marketing experience we haven’t looked back. For the first time in my life I am so excited to go to work each day and LOVE what I do with so much passion.
Tell us about your experience starting up your business as a busy Mum of three daughters. What were some learning curves you had to overcome early on?
Starting my business as a busy mum of three has definitely been the most challenging experience and definitely made my journey take longer than if I didn’t have kids! But then in saying that, my motivation for this is my kids so I might not still be doing this after 9 years now without them. They are part of my journey and everyday they are having something to do in our business and they love it too. One day it will all be theirs and this makes me so happy knowing that. Plus the added benefit of making a massive difference to our environment. There were days and times, don’t get me wrong, that I have definitely been in tears and wanting to throw it all in. Without the support of my amazing Husband, Craig, and business partner, my mum, Laurie, with their “never give up attitude,” I have kept going. It was a dream that my husband would one day work in our business and this year being the 9th Year, its become a reality. We are now both full time in the business and loving every day that we go to work together. I think the key to making it work is that we LOVE what we do and everyday we have so much FUN doing it too.
Some learning curves that I had to overcome early on is to not be too trusting. I know that sounds sad to say but we have had a lot of people come into our business who have done the wrong thing by us, so now I am much more careful with who I let into my business and also personal life. I have also learnt to say no to things that will distract and take my time away from my goals and dreams. As I have gotten older I feel that my time is so precious, so I only let certain people in my life to share it with me whether its business or personal.
You have a close knit family and your business partner is your Mum! Any tips on how you balance family life and business life?
Mmmm this is always such an interesting thing, trying to balance everything. Some weeks I have it altogether or some days and other days and/or weeks I don’t. I try and accept that it will never be perfect and take each day as it comes. Some days I end the day on a high feeling like I achieved a lot as a mum and business women and other days I feel like I didn’t achieve a lot. Days like that I definitely go home and have a big hot bath and this really helps de-stress me. As for any tips, I like to stay very organised that really helps me with being able to achieve so much each day. I also like to keep fit. I go to F45 every day and try to run 5km in the afternoon. Exercise is my go to for stress release for sure and without this I can tend to get a bit snappy haha. I think planning ahead is the key too. I will meal prep or cook things in advance and in business I like to have regular meetings with my team to help stream line our productivity. I will also block out time in the day at work that I need to have no interruptions so it might just be a few hours but I find that having no interruptions I can get so much more done. This has been working really well for helping me balance everything as a busy CEO.
Tell us about the design and manufacturing process of your bamboo products. How long does it take from beginning to end?
My kids have very sensitive skin so I was instantly drawn to bamboo as being the best fibre to use when it comes to make a baby range of nappies, wipes, breast pads etc. Some rashes that you see on little bubs skin is so sad so I definitely wanted my products to help minimize this if not make it go away altogether so that was so important to me. As I started to research more and more about bamboo, I found that not only are the fibres smooth making it less likely to irritate the skin like cotton or corn fibres. But it also doesn’t need any pesticide to grow it as no insects like to eat it! HOW AWESOME is that! It’s naturally organic! Plus it doesn’t need much water to grow either, it duplicates itself and naturally biodegrades back into the soil too. Its hands down the best ingredients by far so that made it a no brainer for me.
The design process has been a very detailed and researched phase as I wanted to make sure I had the best, softest and most absorbent eco bamboo nappy, wipes, breast pads etc. I wanted to make sure my wipes were super soft but so strong. I feel as mum’s big thick wipes are bulky and hard to use but soft silky feel wipes that are super strong is the key. So to achieve this with our wipes I knew that making them 100% bamboo would keep them silky soft but super strong even if that was more costly than a cotton or corn fibre wipe. They pull up out like tissues which when you are in a hurry to grab another wipes is a must! We also make sure they have a clip lid so they don’t dry out and with no nasty ingredients they are perfect for bubs sensitive skin. Features like this do add to my cost price but having a quality high end product that will make a mums life easier has always been my goal.
I also wanted to achieve this high quality with our nappies so to make sure I got the best sap which is sumoto sap from Japan. We also wanted to use bamboo fibre instead of cotton or corn fibres which are cheaper. I chose to have stretchy strong side tabs so that our nappies were comfortable for bub to wear but the tabs wouldn’t come off easy. I feel that after 9 years of perfecting all of the features of our nappies we now have the most absorbent and softest eco bamboo nappy and wipes that I am so proud to say is our own Australian family brand.
When is your favourite hour in the day?
I know this sounds funny but it really is when I go and get my kids from daycare and school. My kids are very passionate and get very excited about life similar to myself. So when I get them from school and daycare they come running over screaming mummy and daddy with so much joy and happiness so this is definitely my favourite part of my day. My kids are my life! I love what I do for my career but being a mum is the most important job of all and I take this very seriously. I will drop everything for my family and my kids.
Who are some women that inspire you?
I have a lot of women who inspire me and sometimes it can just be a moment in my day or something someone says that inspires me. It can be something I read or see or experience that will inspire me. Even my 5 year old, 3 year old and 18 year old daughters will say or do something that inspires me. My husband, I know you say Women but without him supporting me and helping so much with our kids I definitely wouldn’t have achieved the success I have. He is such a hands on dad which is so awesome for me to see the close relationship he has with his girls especially when I lost my dad to cancer when I was only five. I feel like that Craig is in my life for me to see this close father daughter bond that I didn’t get to have as a child so I am soooo grateful every day for this and these moments. My mum who has also been my business partner for the last 9 years definitely inspires me. Her strength to fight her terminal cancer for 3 years now has definitely been a massive inspiration for me but also the most challenging time of my life and continues to be.
Luv Me Eco is paving the way for sustainable, eco friendly baby products, what are your goals for the future? (Personally and business wise!)
Personally I want to continue to improve and work on my work life balance. Making sure I am giving myself the time on my own that I need as being a busy mum I find I do put myself last. I want to change that more and really focus on being my true authentic self. Or as my 18 year old daughter would say you do you mum and the rest doesn’t matter. In business OMG I have so many plans for the future which is so exciting and keeps me awake at night a lot. So it will be just getting the foundations right for the growth that is about to come and the new products and changes. 2019 has already broken massive sales records and I haven’t even touched the surface with the exciting new changes coming. I am growing my team which I think is important to get the right people in the right roles. I am working massively on improvement also and fine tuning every aspect of my business to be the best that it can. I will continue with this mindset and attitude and enjoy this super fun roller coaster ride with my amazing team!
Luv Me Eco have kindly offered my readers 20% off their purchases from their Little Shoppers online store. Head over to their shop to see their full range of eco conscious products for your whole family. Use the code TASH20 to redeem 20% off. Luv Me Eco would love to give you all an opportunity to try a free sample by heading over to their shop. Follow this link for your FREE sample of their range!
You can also follow them on the socials on Instagram!
Quite a few new mums or mums who haven’t had a baby for awhile, have been asking me what I brought into the labour room with me! It seems like just yesterday I was carefully packing my bag. I had tried to keep things simple when I had Olive, but second time around, I wanted a bag full of things that helped me feel a little more in control, prepared and calm. I needed a few reminders to help me stay grounded throughout labour as I was so fearful of going through another traumatic birth. Sometimes being prepared gives me a little less space for anxiety and the unknown. Are you similar?
Here are the things I brought to the birth suite when I had Ezra.
Bliss Birth TENS machine To be honest, I was skeptical about the effectiveness of a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator. I felt like it was similar to the advice my Mum gave me, “just breathe” through the labour! But this tiny device was what helped me experience a calm, focused birth! It was so easy to use, adjust and distract me from the contractions. A natural pain relief mechanism that helps to block pain signals from reaching the brain and increase endorphins. What a great tool! I used the TENS machine during the active phase of labour (when I was between 3 to 7cm dilated) and for a little while during the transition stage. Prior to being induced, Steve and I tried the TENS machine using the reusable electrode pads on our backs. The gentle buzzing of the pads and boost option to increase the intensity to dull the pain of a contraction was amazing! The machine also had a built in contraction timer which was useful during labour. I was so thankful to Ariel and the warmth and encouragement I received when communicating with her. She passionately runs Bliss Birth sharing practical tools, support and guiding women to a natural birth whether that’s a c’section, drug free or all the drugs, she hopes to support mothers to having that bliss moment when they meet their newborn. Hiring the TENS machine was easily done online, it included the Elle TENS plus machine, new batteries, brand new reusable electrode pads, easy to read instructions, lead wires, prepaid return envelope to send the products back to Bliss Birth. Go check out the Bliss Birth shop, blog and hire options! Click here to head straight over to the labour TENS hire info!
Home Made Affirmation Cards So this is where I got all hippy in Steve’s opinion! But I needed all the tools I could think of to keep me grounded and calm during birth. I’m a visual person so I found these so helpful! I searched in Google for birth affirmations and printed out the ones that resonated with me. I also typed up a few of my own to help me focus and stay grounded if I needed them during labour. It was probably as we approached the transition phase where I asked Steve to help me find these cards. I placed them on the bed and paced around, rocked on the spot and read these cards. Reminding myself about the world outside this clinically, sterile environment and the purpose of the pain I was experiencing. I had written affirmations such as: “The power and the intensity of my contractions can’t be stronger than me, because it is me.”, “Breathe in peace, breathe out tension”, “The Lord God is with me”, “Women around the world are birthing with you right now.” … there are so many!
Photos of my daughter, Olive I needed a reminder of what the pain during childbirth was for. Having some photos of Olive reminded me of the outcome of labour…. a beautiful creation from God, a gift of new life. I found I brought these photos out mid way through the labour to help remind me of the big picture. Our family was growing and she would be a big sister soon! Looking at her photos strengthened me to keep going, knowing that I would soon be meeting a little boy who would one day have his own personality of his own. But even if this is your first labour experiences, I would recommend bringing along photos of things that give you peace, remind you of the outside world, things that remind you of home or a place where you feel calm and relaxed. This helped my heart to stop racing and gain perspective.
Eucalyptus oil and a USB charged diffuser from Kmart The moment we were shown to our room, Steve helped to set up a diffuser. Aromatherapy has its benefits and I chose a smell that I associated with home, relaxation and wellness. I bought a $15 diffuser from Kmart and it was very easy to use. You can find it here.
Bible Verses and messages from amazing women in my life! Prior to having Ezra, some beautiful women in my church threw me a “Baby Blessing”. Many had walked with me after I had PND with Olive and been my “village” throughout my recovery. They knew my heart was burdened with the fear of labour, PND reoccurring and the anxiety of the unknown. These women were my rocks! Their thoughtfulness and prayers helped me stay focused on trusting God and knowing He will be with me. Many of them wrote down verses from the Bible to encourage me and letters of reassurance. I brought these with me to the birth suite too! A big fear of mine is being alone, and these visual reminders were great to have as I rocked and swayed throughout labour. Knowing they were praying for me helped to keep my eyes on the Lord.
Vicks This is my ultimate comfort smell! I had been using it throughout the pregnancy and found it took me back to places in my childhood. I would hold the bottle or put some under my nose and tension points for comfort.
Lavender Heat Pack Ok so there are a heap of conflicting smells going on in the labour room. But I would recommend a heat pack of any sort just in case. This was helpful to use on areas that were aching or just as a temperature distraction.
Snacks for birth partner Energy drinks, lollies, chocolate… a few snacks for your birth partner if you have one is handy. That way they can be focused on staying by your side and have sustenance to have their hands squeezed for an unknown amount of hours!
Battery operated candles I wanted to feel relaxed and the atmosphere of the room was important. Whether it’s bringing your pillow from home, a comfy blanket or wearing your favourite pair of socks. The ambiance of the room is what will help you feel less like a science experiment and more like the Mama Bear! I read that the body senses tension, fear and stress during labour and this can often slow down cervical dilation. You can imagine, if there’s fear pumping through your body, the last thing it wants to do is open up to bring a fragile life into the world. So observing the pain through labour as “healthy pain” with a purpose helped to get me through. Rather than interpreting the pain in a negative way and wanting to tense up and flee from it. You can find the candles I used from everyone’s favourite go to shop! Kmart.
Maternity/Nursing Bra This is a great option for during the labour or in the recovery room. Prior to having Ezra, I had not heard of Mamaway. But they have kindly connected with me and gifted a Rose of Versailles Maternity Bra. It was comfortable with adjustable clasps, extra padding for those lopsided milky boobs and easy access for discrete breast feeding. I have added a link here if you would like to check out their range of maternity clothing, breastfeeding bras and more baby products.
Most importantly, I would say that having the support of women in my church, Steve and my family helped me feel reassured through the process. My husband and beautiful church friends knew how much the fear of the unknown and trauma from my first birth lingered on my mind. They all reminded me that God had got this. He was the constant support I had through my whole pregnancy and birth. We can try to be organised with all our tricks and tools, but at the end of the day, I knew God was who sustained me and went before me. I will be sharing more about my birth story with Ezra very soon!
I would love to know what you found helpful to bring along to your birth. Send me a message or comment below!
Gypsy and Rye is the creation of Liv
Canning, a Melbourne based Girl Boss with a big heart for others living in
poverty. Her experience and understanding of the hardships for those living in
Indonesia led her to start her bohemian accessories business. With the ongoing
benefit of giving support to families in Northern remote and South Bali. Read
on to learn about how Gypsy and Rye is supporting 11 families, one bag at a
Tell us about yourself?
My name’s Liv, and I’m from Melbourne! I
grew up in Rye with my sister, brother and a single mum. We moved up to
Melbourne when I was starting primary school and I’ve lived in the same place
ever since! Mum passed away when I was 16, so it’s been a long and difficult
road for us to get to where we are now. I currently live with my partner of 5
years, a beautiful Indonesian man called Dede. We are making the move back to
Bali soon, and we cannot wait!
Tell us about Gypsy and Rye and the origins of its
Gypsy and Rye was birthed after my solo trip to India
about a year and a half ago. I was so in love with all the stunning accessories
in India and I couldn’t think of many places in Australia that stocked anything
similar at a decent price. On the way home from India I stopped over in Bali
and fell in love with basically every leather bag and wallet that I came
across, and thus Gypsy and Rye was born! It took me months of
brainstorming to come up with the name. It was actually the hardest part! I’m
the kind of person where everything I do needs to be meaningful to me in some
way, so I really wanted my brand name to be special, while also reflecting on
who I am as a person and the direction I wanted my brand to go. I spent just
about every waking hour for months on end using name generators, writing lists,
looking at photos, drawing different things, whatever I could to come up with a
name that stuck, and I finally got there!
What is your dream for Gypsy & Rye?
I started my brand with an audience in mind, and that audience is your everyday gal. I want everyone to be able to afford something from Gypsy and Rye and I want people to feel special when they deal with us and when they use their new item. I want Gypsy and Rye to become a household name, and to be the go-to for boho accessories. I have some exciting things planned for the future, but for now it’s baby steps to get us there!
Who are your style icons?
I don’t really have one in particular. I am drawn to anyone who has an individual sense of style, and I love people who wear things that no one else wears. Anyone that’s confident in their style and who is completely them self is an icon to me!
You lead a very busy life! Any tips of balancing your online business, day job and life in general?!
I think the key to balancing it all out is “you don’t have to say yes to everything”. I don’t let myself get too busy with over committing to different things, and I find this allows me the chance to fit in everything I need to do without rushing or being overwhelmed. I work full time at my day job, a not for profit organisation called Challenge. We support kids with cancer, so as you can imagine I am mentally and emotionally exhausted when I get home each night, so I keep my weeknights free and allow myself a few hours before bed for Gypsy and Rye. I don’t go out much anymore, so my weekends are a chance to relax or catch up with the girls. I keep it pretty low key!
What are 3 things you can’t live without?
Food, my phone, and my partner (sappy!)
Tell us about what you have observed in Indonesia and the families you have supported?
I have seen and learnt a whole lot in the 10 years I’ve been going to Indonesia. I lived there on and off for three years and worked full time with a very well known orphanage. I observed this place take advantage of well intending volunteers, staff and even the children, and I learnt the hard way that it was very much a case of me going in there with rose coloured glasses and thinking it was different to the horror stories I had heard (but chose to ignore). A few of the families I support are children who have come from that orphanage, they can no longer look after themselves because the orphanage has cut them off from their sponsors. Other families I support have lived in the cycle of poverty their whole lives and don’t have the education or means to break themselves out of that cycle. I support one family by paying their son’s University scholarship. He is the first person in their entire family to ever attend Uni, and he is at the top of every class. He has scored 95% and above on every test and exam so far. Can you imagine someone that smart missing out on the opportunity to further their education and getting themselves a decent job, just because their family cannot afford the school fees? His life would have ended up much like his parents, working on the streets or in a little shop making no more than $30 a week. The small amount of money it takes to change these people’s lives is priceless!
Through your travels to Indonesia and seeing their daily challenges, what are some practical ways we could support those who are less fortunate?
Being a third world country, almost everyone you come into contact with during a trip to Indonesia is likely to be struggling in some way. I know lots of people want to help when they are on holidays, and this usually comes in the form of visiting orphanages or similar facilities. I would advise against this for many reasons, the main one being that it only feeds into the orphanage tourism industry and creates a chain of supply and demand with the children who are brought in from loving families just to keep the donations coming in. Another reason is, you don’t always know where your money or gift donations are going. Most of the time goods that are donated end up sitting in a cupboard gathering dust. As a general rule, ask yourself if you would be allowed the same experience in a Western country. For example, would a school or center for disadvantaged kids in the USA allow you to come in during your holiday for a quick visit, even if you had no qualifications or credentials, just because you wanted to “see the kids”? No, definitely not. If you wouldn’t do it in your own country, don’t do it in a third world country. What I have found to be the most authentic way of helping those in need is to look at the people around you. If you get to know the locals and learn about their lives, you will find there are simple ways for you to help them. Things like eating at local warung as opposed to a large chain restaurant. Hiring a driver off the street as opposed to using the hotel transport. Stopping at a tattoo shop to have a beer with the guys who are sitting out the front. It’s through these experiences that you connect with the locals and find different ways to support them. You could buy them a fan or water tank for their house, buy their kids new school shoes, top up their electricity, simple things like that which would cost us no more than $50, but would mean the world to someone who has a low and unpredictable income. Find out what it is they need, something practical, and go from there. This is how almost all of the families I sponsor have come about. It doesn’t always have to be a cash handout. Often, the most simple gestures are more than enough.
Any advice for those of us who would like to start a business and not for profit?
In regards to starting a business, my biggest tip would be to just go for it. I umm’ed and ahh’ed about whether or not to give it a go, and I ended up annoying myself with how often I would talk about doing something but never following through with it. Make sure you put a lot of time and effort into finding a trusted supplier with quality products, and if you aren’t happy with their service then don’t be afraid to move on and try someone else. Also something I wish I knew when starting out was to not overdo it with the initial order of stock. I went way over the top and ordered 10 of everything, when I probably could have ordered 1 of everything and been fine! As for starting a not for profit, I will let you know once I have worked it out hehe
Thank you Liv for sharing an honest
outlook on the realities of life for so many living in Indonesia and how Gypsy
and Rye is supporting the community.
If anyone would like to know more
about the orphanage tourism industry and the negative effects these places and
well meaning volunteers have on children, head over to ReThink Orphanages and
have a read of the work they do. I’d also like to say thanks to all our
beautiful customers. By purchasing from Gypsy and Rye, you are
quite literally changing someone’s life. Education is something we take for
granted, but it is the key to breaking families in developing countries out of
the cycle of poverty, so we will continue to sponsor as many children as
possible until my NFP is up and running!
Head over to @gypsyandrye to follow their journey and how you can purchase beautiful handmade accessories that are ethically sourced and giving back to Indonesian communities.
Amy Francis is the Creative designer and Owner of the eco conscious, ethically made and natural plant dyed company, Earthd. Instagram in all it’s weird and wonderful bot fuelled wisdom connected us! I have loved learning about the design, plant dyeing and manufacturing process for Amy’s carefully, artisan made pieces. Each one is made with the preservation of the earth in the forefront of her mind. It is a pleasure to receive a carefully considered and created piece for my family. The colours from the plant dyes are so rich and I am still amazed at the vibrancy of the amber, mustard, indigo and forest hues! But what attracted me to Earthd, was the story behind the makers. Enjoy this interview with Amy and let me know whether you have ever tried botanically dying fabrics at home!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
I’m Amy, mamma to the sweetest little boy, Noah (3), partner to Brent and fur mamma to the cutest whippet, Zeus! We live in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia.
Earthd is a beautiful name for a thoughtful business, tell us about Earthd!
My business is Earthd. We make earth friendly,ethically made linen and clothing for little ones! The best part is that all our products have been plant dyed/botanically dyed with plants!!
As a Mum to a toddler and fur baby, life is already busy! What led you to start your own business from home?
I am always creating something, it keeps me centered and is something I do for me! I am a really artistic and creative person with an active mind, so when I do “arty stuff” it helps bring me back to “earth”again! I started dyeing some cot sheets and singlets of Noah’s with avocado pips and skins, and then began really interested in natural dyeing and started creating my swaddles in my kitchen/laundry at home! My first two dyes I began to use were madder root and indigo.
It’s amazing you can use botanically sourced colours to dye your fabrics. The colours are so vibrant! Can you tell us a bit about the plant dyeing process?
It’s a very lengthy process! But extremely fascinating. The colours that can be produced are endless. Natural plant dyes have been used dating back to ancient times well before the “synthetic” dye was created. Basically the dyes are made by extracting the colour from plants,leaves, roots, flowers, seeds. The fabric is then scoured to remove any chemicals, pre-treated with a mordant and then dyed. Usually this process can take up to a week! Plant dyeing means that there are no harsh synthetic dyes being used, therefore it is better for our skin but even better for our earth!
When I started Earthd. I was doing the dyeing myself.As mentioned above, the two colours I started with were madder root (which produced a blush colour) and Indigo (a stunning blue). I wanted to offer my customers a wider range of colours, that were also consistent. I decided to outsource my dyeing to an ethical Plant dye workshop in Indonesia run by a family that have been doing plant dyeing for many generations. Not only has this enabled me to provide a wider range of beautiful tones, it has also enabled me to spend more time with my family and focus on expanding my little business! The other great thing about this workshop is that it is completely eco friendly! Because the plant dyes are non toxic, the “waste” runs off into a local field and straight back into the earth!
I visit the workshop every 3-6 months and have developed the most wonderful relationship with the men that take so much pride and care in creating my products.
It is a daily juggling act between all the areas of life. How do you balance mumlife, business and self care?
I only recently realised how important this was,another reason I outsourced my dyeing, I was spending every night, some nights until 2-3am in my kitchen dyeing swaddles. As well as all weekend. I really began to see how little time I was giving to my partner and little boy, and I knew something had to change. I also work 3 days a week in an admin role! So I am extremely busy! I try to plan my groceries and meals for the week on aSunday, I write lists, lots of lists! And make sure I am getting plenty of rest as well! I spend my two days per week off, keeping on top of house work,and nap times for business planning, responding to emails etc…. it’s a bit of a juggle most days, but it seems to be working well!
Your work is unique and inspiring. Who inspires you?
I have met so many women on Instagram who are mums, just like me running beautiful businesses on Instagram.I am inspired by anyone that is driven to achieve their dreams, and just keep going with it. I have made some incredible friends through my little business and I am so thankful for it. One amazing woman and business mamma, Jame, of @earth.blended inspires and motivates me everyday to keep doing what I’m doing.I truly value her and the friendship we now have. I am also inspired by my partner Brent, he has been through a lot in his life, but is the hardest working person I know, with the most pure heart. He always encourages me to just keep pushing on.
What are 3 things you can’t live without?
Chocolate (even though I’m dairy intolerant)
Coffee. All the coffee.
Being a mother to 3 year old Noah, what has motherhood taught you about yourself?
Wow. I have learned SO much about myself from being a mother. I have struggled with self identity combined with mental health issues for a long time. I never felt I had purpose before becoming a mother. The second my son was placed in my arms, I just felt I finally had a purpose. And all the tough times I’d been through, not knowing who I was or why I was here…. it just all made sense in that split second. Motherhood has been the most beautiful thing, it’s been challenging, really, really challenging… but becoming a mum has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m learning more about myself and about life every single day and I am so blessed to have the most amazing little boy and supportive partner. I am so,so blessed.
Between mumming, your day job, managing Earthd and more….What does a typical day in the week look like for you?
Monday’s I’m at my admin job! Business attire, packed lunch bag and copious amounts of coffee. Same as Wednesday and Thursday.
Tuesday’s and Fridays I am usually in faded overalls or gypsy florals- or let’s face it, my pjs.
I’m lucky to have a great partner and baby daddy who takes care of daycare drop offs on work days. I do pickups.
Days off are spent generally eating too much coconut yoghurt and long nap times with my little man, spending time forming relationships and maintaining relationships with the amazing people I’ve connected with in the IG world, post runs, dreaming, emails and general small biz stuff!
Thanks Amy for sharing an insight into your small business and the process behind the production of your beautiful linens.
I just want to thank anyone who has or is going to take the time to check out my little biz! It really is my heart and soul (apart from my family!) I value each and every one of my customers so, so much. You are the ones who are helping me take each stepping stone towards my dreams.
Check out Earthd at @earthd_ on Instagram and shop online at www.earthdco.com.au Amy has kindly offered 15% off all orders using the discount code NATASHA15 at check out.
The Name Nest is a treasure trove of beautifully illustrated baby names created by the very talented Mama, Tara Sea. Her unique approach to researching the gift of a name for a newborn child is inspiring and heart felt. Her creativity and intuitive artistic style comes through her magical drawings that have captured the attention of a community of over 20,000 followers on Instagram. I had the pleasure of interviewing Tara and as you will see, she has a beautiful way with words! Settle down with a cup of tea or your favourite sparkly drink and enjoy the interview!
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Tara and I live on the Gold Coast, Australia. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters, Isla May (4) and AubreyRose (1). My husband and I got married last year in August after being together for 10 years and we got to have the girls as flower girls, which was so magical and special. We have a big black Labradoodle named Ernie who is a gentle and goofy giant. I grew up under the sunshine of the Gold Coast and had a wonderful childhood full of adventures and so much make believe. I have always loved things to do with Islands and the beach, always collecting shells and beach pebbles and dreaming of tropical islands. I have a Diploma in Graphic Design which I studied in my early 20’s, however ended up in a Government Job shortly after my studies in an Administration Role and have been here now for over 10 years.
I have always been creative and love to write, draw and paint. I have always been drawn to interiors as well, once wanting to be an interior designer when I grew up. I loved watching Changing Rooms as a child and love nestling in to watch shows like Grand Designs and Escape to the Country. I have also loved to write. I have written many stories over the years and little poems too. I also love working with my hands and have found that this new mixture of creative work for me is the best balance creatively. I amusing my love of writing and art, as well as my Graphic Design skills which have up until this point, not been used much at all.
Tell us about your business, The Name Nest
The Name Nest is a passion project of mine that I started in February last year, it came to me as an idea when I was pregnant with Aubrey and was struggling to find baby names. I have always loved names that are unique and harder to find. I also find that a name meaning is also very important when deciding on my name choices. I felt there needed to be a book of names that did not yet exist, where I could fall in love with every name it contained, feel magic in their meanings. A book where the names are not in a specific order, nor defined by a gender. I remember hiring so many books from the library, searching the internet and found it was just a sea of names that did not stand out to me, all in alphabetical order, separated by genders and all so monotonous.
I remember being out on a walk with my girls one summers afternoon in February and thinking about being creative again. I had stopped most of my creativeness and my side business while I was pregnant with Aubrey and had not been doing anything for a while. Then like a little whisper in my ear, ‘the Name Nest’. The name just came to me and in that moment I decided to call my dad and run the idea past him (as all of my creative ventures, I like to tell my dad as he gives wonderful advice and support. He’s always thinking everything I do is amazing and ‘the best idea ever’). After talking to him and feeling very empowered and encouraged I decided to channel my creativity into this, the Name Nest, as a place where you can come and look,read and be inspired. To see the names you cannot find all in one collection. To tell their stories in unique and beautiful ways, giving traditional meanings but to also write in my own words, the magical thoughts I feel to bring them to life. Help you to fall in love with a name, a forever name, that you can cherish for a lifetime.
I have been absolutely blown away by the response to the Name Nest, the support and love that I have received along this journey has absolutely blown me away. I have had small businesses over the past 5 years, starting out with children’s clothing and rugs under the name of Tara Sea, then onto my love and passion of interior design and all things doll house with Tiny Bungalow which I put on hold when I fell pregnant with Aubrey. This was just to be a side page, something for me that I would create because I wanted to, because I loved it and not for any other gain or reward. It was not driven by money or the need to create an income, this time it would just be about sharing my writing and my art.
When I write each name feature, it is because it has come to me on its own. I normally get a pull towards a name and then feel a surge to write. It is not conscious; it is without thought and effort like it flows through me. I like to imagine a name and the little soul who would have this name, to write in my own words and from my heart my interpretation of that name and how I imagine it. My creativity is very hard to explain, however I describe it as being wild and free, it cannot be forced or it does not work. I am learning to just create when I feel it’s right, rather than having a need to create and then burning out and I have never felt more at peace with it all in my life. I finally feel I have found what I love to do,and with that I have found that I am creating my best work.
The artwork you create is so magical, what is something you are looking forward to creating in 2019?
I am lucky enough to be connected with some beautiful women in business and am excited to continue some of the collaborations I have at the moment and also what may be in store for 2019. My dream since before starting this was to create my own book, so I would love to use this year to explore that and maybe this time next year I can make holding my little name book a reality.
How do you balance mumlife, business and self care?
It is a very hard juggling act for me as I work part time in Administration as well. I find that my creativity comes in waves and a lot at night so I do spend a lot of time after the girls go to bed on my artworks and writing. I do find that being creative takes a lot of my free time however as I love it so much I could not imagine not being creative.
Who inspires you?
I have many muses and people who inspire me creatively. I feel that the more you surround yourself with others who are creative, positive and supportive, the more you are inspired and empowered to create. I am lucky enough to have connected with some of the people I follow through Instagram and have been able to meet the lovely faces behind the names that I have admired for so long.
Alannah from @alannahmortonphotography who I was lucky enough to stumble across through Instagram because of her amazing photographs and then go on to meet and have capture my wedding day, she is so talented and a gentle and kind soul.
Tess from @tessguinery and @theapricotmemoirs who I looked up to and adored for years through Instagram and was lucky enough to meet at a workshop she ran through @thecraftparlour a few years back. She is a soul who radiates love and creativity, a true creative being who touches everyone she meets. She has now gone on to create this beautiful ‘rainbow movement’ we see everywhere now and even self-published her own works in the Apricot Memoirs which is amazing and everyone needs to own a copy of her magic.
Carrie-Anne from @kwithheart who is one of the happiest and nicest woman I have ever met. She has her own beautiful business and puts so much love in to everything she does. We relate in that we are both mums in jobs which are not creative and so have found a way on the side to unleash this magic.
Gab from @familythreds is also another creative who I have followed for years and watched her evolve and grow. Her macramé works are so amazing and I truly believe she is a rare talent who pushes the boundaries of her craft and creates things that have not been seen before. You can see her love and passion in everything she does, she truly does create for the love of it and it shows.
There are so many more woman who I love and inspire me which you should also have a look at. I have been lucky enough to work on a collaboration with Sarah from @_bubbleslane where she has turned my artworks into beautiful children’s bedding and is one the kindest and down to earth woman I know and have been lucky enough to work with. Also Jess & Rach from @marlee_watch_co who I have also had the pleasure of meeting and working on a collaboration on, both such beautiful and warm souls who are amazing at what they do.
And a little shout out to my close and dear friend Lucy who is my creative sister, we have always been able to bounce of one another with our ideas and creative passions and she supports me with everything I do.
What are 3 things you can’ t live without?
I am going to be really sentimental and say my family,friends and being creative.
What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
I have learnt that I was meant to be a Mum. I have always known I wanted to have children and when I was pregnant with Isla my first born I was actually super nervous and anxious that I might not be very good. But it’s been the best thing that I have ever done and makes me realise what life is all about. I now see the world through my ‘mum’ eyes so now I understand more about my parents and some of the things they used to say to us. I was a child who always played games like being ‘grown up’, always wanting to ‘work play’ and forever wanting to be big. Now that I am all grown up, I can see that its so important to teach my girls to enjoy being little and that they will grow up one day but to not wish that time away of being a child.
You have created beautiful affirmation cards, located in your online shop. How was your birth experience with your children and what did you find useful during the process?
Oh thank you, I had very different experiences with both of my girls’ births. Isla came on her own, naturally the day before her due date and was a 7 hour labour which went very smoothly and without pain relief. At the time it did scare me just the power of birth and my pain tolerance was not at all what I thought it would be as I remember saying after it I would ‘never ever do that again’.
With Aubrey I remember the whole time wishing I could know the day she would come, like I wish I could look into a crystal ball and know the exact date as the unknown of that impending day was really getting to me. I thought I would go early again like Isla and it would all happen much faster than with Isla as well. The week before she was due, she slowed right down with her movements. I actually went a whole day without feeling her at all. When I saw my amazing Ob Dr Drew Moffrey (Pindara, Gold Coast) he said to me we should think about inducing me to get her out a little early, so that we did not have the risk of a stillbirth (as slowing in movements and no movements for long periods is something that can be reported before a stillbirth).
My anxiety went through the roof and I was still devastated at the thought I would need to be induced. It was the one thing I never wanted to have happen but I also knew that Aubrey was priority and her health came first.Letting go of that fear and surrendering to the intervention was the hardest thing I have ever done. The labour was much more intense and at one point I thought I would need an epidural, but in the end when she decided to come it happened quickly (despite the lead up being longer). I remember in that instant that she was born, getting a rush of overwhelming love and crying through tears of joy saying ‘oh my gosh, I love you my baby’. I think at that moment I knew that I wanted another child one day. So in spite of it being so much harder, it made me realise just how magical it truly is.
My biggest advice for any new mothers to be would be that it will happen the way it is meant to go, try not to worry about the things that will be out of your control and listen to your body as you know best. And in the end no matter how you have your baby, just know that the most important thing is that they arrive safe and healthy in the end. So giving in to the process and trusting in yourself and your support. I also adored doing pregnancy yoga as well with Isla and would highly recommend it.
Any tips for someone starting out in the arts/creative industry?
Just follow your heart! If you are wanting to start something or if you have just started out, follow your heart and your dreams.Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot do it, you need to do what makes you happy. Start small and if you are passionate and love what you do, it will show and you will grow. Also do not get caught up what others are doing, someone looking at my page may see just the number of followers in the time I have been around and think its success that has come overnight. There are years and years of hard work behind it all, trailed ventures of my other creative businesses,years of learning and growth.
Tara currently sells all of her artworks and name artworks through her website www.thenamenest.com She also offers a service of custom name artworks where she can put any name with any of her current illustrations. If you are looking for a unique piece with a special name on it that may not be featured on Name Nest as yet.
Tara’s Name Nest can be found on Instagram at @thenamenest. Follow along to see what exciting adventures and names she will be inspired to add this year!
Thank you Tara for an insightful and honest look into your creative world, motherhood journey and business!
You know when you feel like you know someone even though you have never met face to face? You admire their authenticity and approach to food, nutrition, motherhood….! No, it’s not the plot from that creepy Netflix show, “YOU”. However, I’m not ashamed to say, that I did fan girl a little bit about Heidi Sze from @heidiapples! Heidi is a Dietitian, food writer, recipe developer and the author behind the beautifully designed blog, Apples Under My Bed. I have been reading Heidi’s blog for many years now. Taking inspiration from her wholesome recipes, parenting approach, Wednesday Breakfast Club and her honest blog posts. It was a delight to interview her and share more of her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Heidi Sze. I live with my family – my husband, Ben, my three year old daughter, Joan and my three-month-old son, Walt – on the Mornington Peninsula, in Victoria, Australia. I am a dietitian working with women in the pre and postnatal season of life.
Tell us about your business “Gather and Grow” and what led you to focus on pre and postnatal nutrition?
I intended on returning to my private practice after maternity leave, seeing clients face-to-face for a variety of nutrition-related issues. Then Joan was born and I realized she wouldn’t simply sleep when I needed her to. Ha! It also felt entirely overwhelming to go back to a more general practice (baby brain and all), so I chose to specialize in pre and postnatal nutrition, which was where my head was at and is my passion area.
Congratulations on your newest addition, Walt! How are you finding the juggle between mumlife, business and self care?
Thank you! Honestly, Walt has slipped into our lives so well. I still manage to make time for self-care – that’s a non-negotiable for me. Every day I stretch, have a shower and make nourishing meals. Basic stuff. I now just have to be really efficient! Thankfully I have family support, which allows me to work form home. My mum comes every Tuesday to be with my toddler. That’s when I get the bulk of my work done. My mother-in-law and father also come throughout the week, giving me more time to work while Walt sleeps on me in the baby carrier. Anything else I can do on the weekend when my husband is home. I just have to pray that Walt has a long nap and doesn’t take ages to fall asleep, as that really cuts in to my work time.
You have such an inspiring collection of recipes on your blog “Apples Under My Bed”, what is your go to recipe for a lazy weekend dinner?
We tend to make more of an effort on the weekends than weekdays, as my husband is home to help with the prep. So lazy weekday dinners would be pesto pasta or scrambled eggs. Mostly, though, I grab a meal from the freezer – something I’ve made during a meal prep session, like a casserole or some falafel. If we really can’t be bothered cooking on the weekend, we’ll get takeout. There aren’t a lot of options near us, but we do have a great Middle Eastern place, with tagine, dips and rice. It’s expensive, though, so we don’t do it often.
Who inspires you and why?
My mother. She’s the most generous person I know – giving so much of her time and love to us. She’s naturally very positive, as am I, so we feed off each other. And she’s the most amazing cook.
What are 3 things you can’t live without?
Quiet moments alone in nature, writing that fills me and moves me, and my family.
The photography on your blog and instagram page is breath taking! Food photos always catch my breath! Any tips on capturing that instaworthy image?
Natural lighting. Get by a window!
When is your favourite hour of the day and why?
The first hours of the morning when the sun comes up. I am a morning person through and through. Ideally I’ll have had a good nights sleep but even if I haven’t, there’s coffee and that magical morning light.
Any tips for someone starting out in the food and nutrition industry?
Connect with people who have a job that appeals to you and find out what their day-to-day is like.
Thanks to Heidi for this opportunity to hear more about her home life, dietetics and balancing her career as a mother of two. Head over to her blog for recipes, daily life insights and more about her motherhood journey. www.applesundermybed.com
Artemis and Apollo Kid’s is an Australian designed and owned children’s textile label by Isabella Colman. Her designs are inspired by bold, fun, exotic and magically detailed illustrations and techniques. Artemis and Apollo captures the gypsy, carefree spirit without compromising comfort and style. Bella’s clothing label has a strong emphasis on having eco friendly printing, an ethically minded business approach and letting kids be kids! Read on to hear about this emerging, young textile designer with a heart and passion for design, vibrant patterns and music!
Tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey guys! My name is Bella and I’m a 25 year old Melbournian Textile designer!
Tell us about your textile label, Artemis and Apollo Kids and what inspired you to take the step into this industry?
While studying a Bachelor of Arts – Textile design at RMIT university, I nannied part time and really grew an obsession for baby/kids patterns! I was always pattern obsessed but honestly never thought much about kidswear until that point. I’ve also always been very passionate about the world and our environment but never really understood how I could make a difference with my passion for textiles until I decided to start Artemis and Apollo and therefore control every aspect of production. I also hope to one day run projects through Artemis and Apollo to help children who are less fortunate.
What are the biggest trends you are seeing in the kid’s clothing industry at the moment?
To be honest, I don’t really follow the baby wear/kids wear trends. When I first started thinking about doing Artemis and Apollo I decided I didn’t want to be constricted. I wanted to just design whatever I wanted and just let myself be inspired by my travels and worldly textile history (ignorant 22 year old!) Luckily so far so good haha! But currently there seems to be a lot of basics, which is possibly good for me as most of my pieces are very far from basic, I think kids need to be kids – and kids love crazy and colour.
What do you love the most about your work?
Just getting to do whatever I want, whenever I want to (within budget obviously). It is a bit risky/scary ordering shipments of my designs without knowing how they will go. It’s always a surprise really, things I think will go crazy are calm, and the things I nearly cancelled go crazy. Working for myself also means I can spend the afternoon at the beach and work into the night instead, which is great for me!
I hate myself for the first two – but phone, laptop, beach and boyfriend (can I do 4? That’s too hard to condense!)
What do you do for self care?
I am pretty beach obsessed. I also love reading, time with my cat, looking after my plants, yoga and obviously drawing! My partner and I make a lot of time for each other, we love adventuring or going to trampoline parks/water parks and being big kids. We are also very into music and spend way too much on gigs/concerts/festivals.
When is your favourite hour of the day and why?
Too hard to decide between sunrise and sunset! Either way, if I am home I will always run across to the beach to watch the sunset over the sea.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a business in your industry?
There’s way too many of us, unfortunately its gone a bit mental. You’ve got to stick out or else you’ll just get left behind.
Thanks to the beautiful Isabella for sharing her journey as the owner, designer and visionary for Artemis and Apollo Kids! Check out her website! For more details about her design process, patterns, photoshoots and more, go to Bella’s Blog. Don’t forget to show her some love on Instagram too! Let’s be women who support women @artemisandapollokids
It had been 41 weeks and 1 day. My baby had made itself pretty comfortable. Nourished, sustained, thriving and still not ready to make an entrance despite all the signs and symptoms foretold by my baby app! So it was time, to be hooked up to the monitors, waters artificially broken and a syntocin drip commenced for induction.
The last few years I had been somewhat in control of my life. I liked the schedules, to do lists, my diary, my calendar and organising as much as I could to minimise the unknown! I even had an excel spreadsheet for all our connecting flights, hotels and itinerary for our Europe holiday! But as many would know, raising children can be challenging, tiring, messy, confusing and definitely unpredictable! It was a new way to think, process and feel. It was going to be a new season in life and I had those common worries that I’m sure all new mothers or mothers-to-be think about. But I felt like I couldn’t shake the fear and doubt. It was playing on my mind daily and in the quietness of my home. While Steve was at work and I had started maternity leave. I napped and nested while I waited for the days to pass.
My obstetrician had given me all the details. The play by play. The steps of action to be taken if my artificial labour didn’t progress appropriately. If the baby became distressed. If the labour stalled. All the options for the “choose your own” ending for a birth. For someone that was nervous about the whole baby evacuation process, this was helpful. I liked having information. I liked knowing what was going to happen. But the unknown direction the birth could take terrified me and I couldn’t stop thinking of the what if’s. From the minimal reading that I did, it appeared that inductions were usually fast and intense. My sense of being in control was on rocky ground. At the mercy of the syntocin speeding up a labour which my baby was not ready for.
Surprisingly, I didn’t have a birth plan! Which went against my usual organised, “need for control” state! My main hope was to go with the flow and follow what was recommended for the safety of my baby. As much as it scared me, I hoped it would be a drug free, natural birth.
So back to the labour room…It’s a strange feeling, meeting a woman who will help guide and support you through a special moment in your life. A woman who will see you at one of the most vulnerable, raw times of your life. Being pushed physically and emotionally. I didn’t feel at ease with this woman. And upon reflection, I probably should have spoken up. My nurse was an experienced clinician but her matter of fact approach was patronising. I didn’t feel comfortable with her and there’s no other way to put it but “the vibes were off!” So as my anxiety continued to bubble, this nurse checked and told me I was already 3 centimetres dilated and the syntocin was ready to go.
When I reflect back about my first birth experience, I wish I had spoken up and shared my worries. That my pounding heart didn’t stifle my voice to speak up. I remember friend’s telling me once you enter the hospital, “you leave your dignity at the door.” And I left it at the door, and my confidence, courage and voice too. I was attached to an external fetal monitor and was confined to a bed. I wanted to move, rock, pace around like I did while in pre-labour at home. I didn’t realise I could request a mobile monitor and it was never offered as an option. As I waited for the syntocin to kick in I remember feeling bewildered and helpless. Just a pin cushion where procedures were done to me but no explanation given. My nurse reclined on a couch directly in front of me. Kicking back with a bored expression. Staring at me, waiting for the show to begin. I had Steve sitting on a chair beside me. He could see I was anxious and tried to reassure me. Glad to have him by my side, I tried to focus on him and all that was familiar.
An hour or so went by and things started to intensify quickly. Before long, the nurse reported that I would be having my baby by lunch time! The contractions were rolling in repeatedly and I could barely catch my breath. I felt so overwhelmed that I suddenly panicked and knew I needed an epidural. Firstly, they offered me the happy gas, then the pethadine injection. But neither brought relief and my anxiety was spiking. “Get me the epidural! I don’t know how much longer I can do this!” I desperately said to Steve.
I had to sit up and lean forward over my belly for the anaesthesiologist to administer the epidural. It was a relief knowing that strong pain medication was on it’s way. The thought of a huge needle going into my back did not phase me as I hoped that it would take the edge off. I remember my anesthesiologist. I found his calm, clear explanation of what was going to happen helped me feel reassured and informed.
After the epidural and catheter were put in, my ever delightful nurse told me, “You can go to sleep now.” Silently rolling her eyes as she watched me grimace and try to “breathe”. But the relief didn’t really come. I felt a bit numb, but soon things intensified again and it felt like bone pressing against bone near my spine. It was excruciating and surprised me that it was not really a pain I could “just breathe through”. I had dilated to 10 centimeters pretty quickly after the epidural and it was time to push! My nurse tried to show me where to focus my energy, but I was feeling dazed and confused. My back was burning with sharp pain and lying down didn’t help. I felt the panic continue to bubble up my throat and tried my hardest to listen to the instructions she was giving me. But I cringed in fear and felt baby was not budging! I soon explained “I have so much pain in my back and don’t know where to push!” My nurse was clearly annoyed and replied, “How can you feel pain? You have an epidural.” She was so belittling and I felt weak, embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn’t do what a woman’s body was supposedly meant to do. The negative thoughts continued to flood in and I hung my arms around Steve’s neck, telling him “I can’t do this..I don’t think I can endure this anymore.”
Baby’s head was stuck. Every time I pushed, she would tuck her chin in and return back to her safe place! The nurses had their staff changeover and my tired, grumpy nurse was replaced by a beautiful, encouraging soul who made me feel less ridiculous and more supported. Before their hand over, both nurses held one of my legs each as I tried to push baby out. I was trying so hard, I nearly kicked them across the room! Due to baby’s posterior position and prolonged second stage, the nurses realised that I would need an emergency c-section. The next few moments are hard to remember as the room suddenly filled with many people. Steve quickly changed into scrubs and a hairnet. I remember seeing his wide eyes, confused by what was happening and the lack of information given to us. We didn’t even know why I needed to be prepped for a caesarian!
I was wheeled into a room with about 12 other staff members present. They gave me a spinal block so that I was numb from belly to toes. It was surreal. What was happening?! Thankfully, the reassuring anaesthesiologist was back again and calmly spoke next to my ear. He explained what was happening with the spinal block, how my legs would feel and not to worry. I look back and learnt so much about patient client interaction, informed consent and clear communication from this positive example. My obstetrician started to prepare for surgery and I lay there in shock. Still unsure what was going on. Thankfully, my obstetrician knew how much it meant to me to try for a natural birth. She wanted me to try pushing one last time to see if the baby could be assisted with a vacuum cup. The anesthesiologist was by my head, Steve by my side holding my hand, nurses and a paediatrician surrounded the bed. All in unison, they said “PUSH!!!!” Despite having no sensation in half my body, I tried to push and after 2 pushes, my baby was born!
Relief washed over me and all I could do was exclaim, “Thank you God, thank you Jesus!” Steve cut the umbilical cord, they quickly checked her over and then passed her to me. It was a baby girl! My eyes were clouded with tears from relief, shock and disbelief. I couldn’t believe she was real. She looked familiar, but I didn’t know her. I didn’t feel the overwhelming love that I had heard of. But I was so glad that the birth was over. That she was out and she was safe, healthy and here. Steve was over the moon and turned to me and said, “We will name her Olive, yeah?” and that was her name Olive Mary.
After Olive’s birth, I lay there waiting for my obstetrician to repair the effects of a fast, posterior labour. No one had explained what had happened and why I had been rushed to the theatre room. So in the silence, my mind started to fill with negative conclusions. The main one being that I was so incompetent, they had to pull Olive out of me. That I had failed and my hope for an empowered, calm birth did not come to fruition. I was so hard on myself, and in hindsight I feel the exhaustion, my personality, fast labour, trauma, poor communication and lack of birthing debrief was part of my misinterpretation. It was a scary first experience and not as empowered as I had hoped. The joy of meeting my child was soon clouded with irrational thoughts, confusion and anxiety. The silent bubbling had started to overflow and in the quiet night on Day 2 of Olive’s life, I had my first panic attack.
My darling Olive, born on the 26th of March in 5 hours and 53 minutes! Our precious daughter and blessing we received with gratitude. I love her so much and know my mental instability did not reduce how much I love her. But the story of my illness and recovery is where I learnt more about myself, mental illness and God’s faithfulness through it all. Read more about this next part of my journey soon.
If this story raised any concerns for you or you notice someone close to you may be needing help, please reach out to someone you trust. For anyone needing assistance, you can visit the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) website or call their National Helpline on 1300 726 306.