Who are you anyway?

Name: Elle Francess (yes.. I know) Watmough

Age: 27

Location: Northern Beaches, Sydney Australia

Children: Two step children, Claudia (16) and Jake (14) and daughter Jagger (11 months) All three live with us full time

Now.. to the nitty gritty stuff..

Jagger was born 2 weeks after this photo (31 weeks pregnant in Fiji here)

Jagger was born 2 weeks after this photo (31 weeks pregnant in Fiji here)

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When you are a mother you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother has to always think twice, once for herself, and once for her child
— Sophia Loren
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Partner: Anthony (33) 

How did you meet?   At a friends 21st.  It was NOT love at first site. In fact I swore that we would only ever be friends. That led me to leading the poor guy on a wild goose chase for 6 months. It took him to telling me to bugger off to realise I actually did like him.. a lot.. We moved in together 3 months later, were engaged a year later and have been married 4 years this coming January. 

What did you do prior to becoming a mum? Because we are SO much more than mums, right?  When I left school I went straight to University and studied Sport Management. I was a surfer and worked within the surfing industry. When I met Anthony I was working as a flight attendant at Virgin Australia. I flew domestically for 4 years and honestly it was my dream job, until I met Ant and realised with both our jobs involving so much travel, we were like ships in the night. I flew for another year after we met, then decided to quit flying and move to ground crew with Virgin. I worked in the Ground Operations team, before realising that traveling to and from the airport from the beaches in peak hour traffic, for a terribly paid job, was not worth the stress. Since then I have worked in hotels doing various front desk roles. This wasn't ever a career path for me - but it did help pay the bills and keep me (very) busy whilst we were struggling with IVF. It also helped having a flexible, shift job whilst Jake was young (he came to live with us when he was 9) and Anthony was away so much with the NRL. My real passion I believe, lies within the health care system, and this year I am enrolling to study Nursing. I've realized through our struggles with conceiving and then going on to have a premature baby, that ultimatley Neo-Natal or Pediatric nursing is for me. I've known for a while, however with our issues with having Jagger, it wasn't ever the right time to start studying.

Was Jagger planned or unplanned?  Most of you would know Jagger was defiantly planned. She was our 6th embryo transfer after years of trying to conceive and failed IVF attempts. I won't go into this too much now, as I wrote a previous blog whilst we were trying to fall pregnant, which i will link HERE

What has been the hardest part of adjusting to motherhood?  I feel like this year has been one giant blur. One one hand, it has gone incredibly fast. I look at Jagger and can't believe she is almost one! On the other hand, it has gone incredibly slow. Everyday has almost rolled into one, with no distinct start or end. I must say, things have got a hell of a lot easier since I realised we needed help with her sleeping. Now that has been fixed, I do feel more human. I get up for the day and go to sleep at the end of the day. Before, when she woke every couple of hours at night and barely slept during the day, there was never an end. Never time to rest. Never time for "me". Never time to enjoy with my husband. I would go to bed when she went to bed, because I knew it wouldn't be long until she was up again. That doesn't allow for you to have much of a life. You become quite anti-social and anxious, and honestly, you're just bloody exhausted. ALL OF THE TIME. Someone asked me if i thought i had PND. My answer was, that although I am not a doctor, i didn't think there was much of a line between PND and total and utter sleep deprivation. 

What has been the biggest lesson you have learnt so far?  That having a baby doesn't mean I am now just a "mum". Don't get me wrong, becoming a mum is the best thing that has ever, ever happened to me. I look at Jagger and wonder how I got so lucky (and what I was doing with all my free time before her). But i think that one of the easiest things to do when you become a mother is forget about you. To almost lose yourself and your identity in the world of mothering, because you put so much of you into this little person, which of course, is what you are meant to do as a mother, however it is just so easy to lose sight of yourself. To forget about the hobbies you used to do in your free time that made you happy, to forget about getting the odd hair cut to make yourself feel a bit better, because your just too busy. I think for me, learning that its OK to occasionally leave Jagger with my mum, husband or daughter Claudia, and go and do something for myself. This brings on a whole lots of mothers guilt and is something I struggled with for a really long time (This is a whole separate post).  It isn't as easy as it used to be, to go and meet friends for a quiet drink or dinner but its important that when you can do it, that you do, especially because majority of my friends don't have babies. It is important that we try to do this occasionally, no matter how hard it is, otherwise we just become "mums". And we are so much more than just mums.

What was it like being married to someone in the public eye?  This is a hard one, because it is a double edge sword. In so many ways it has been such a blessing. We have been able to set ourselves up with a house and afford things that we may not have been able to otherwise, such as private health cover, good schools for our kids and some lovely family holidays (It is such a short lived career and I am lucky that I am married to someone that saves every penny for the future for that exact reason). That is all well and good, but at the end of the day I did used to wonder if it was all worth it sometimes. I feel like anyone that is in the public eye unfortunately has to deal with a lot of unfair critisism and backlash. Everyday things that you or I could do, and no one would bat an eyelid, become a huge deal. Its written about, dissected, every Dick, Tom and Harry comments on it, and most of the time what is written is completely incorrect . Most of the time, things are even written with no real knowledge of the situation. Everyone thinks they can weigh in on the situation and feel like they know the person just because they know them as a "footballer" on the field and have a right to comment. When you have kids, this makes it particularly upsetting as they have to go to school, and listen to their friends talk or ask questions. Before I had kids it didn't bother me what was said about Anthony or myself because I knew that none of it could be further from the truth. Now that I have children my first instinct is to protect them from unfair gossip and speculation. My greatest wish was for my daughter to see her dad play, like her brother and sister got to for many years, and although she didn't get to see it before he retired, she got to witness the amazing end to his football career. 

What is it like being a Step mum? I am so incredibly lucky because (and I am not painting it to be rosy when it actually isn't) I have been blessed with the two most amazing step children ever. Jake (14) has lived with us for 5 years and Claudia (16) moved in with us 6 months ago. To say I am blessed to have three amazing children is an understatement. They are respectful, helpful and loving beyond anything I could have ever wished for.

2016, Sum up the year that was...  Where do I even start? Going back to last year, we found out we were pregnant in June, were told we may lose our baby in July, waited until September to get the all clear, mum was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in early January, Jagger was born 7 weeks early at the end of January, and between NICU, Special Care, Unplanned births, 2 bone marrow transplants & 6 weeks in hospital (mum) I am incredibly happy to see the end of 2015/2016. In saying that, it was also amazing because mum is doing better than ever and we were blessed with Jagger. However, I am very much looking forward to ringing in 2017!

Let me know if there are any more questions you want answered. There is so much more I wanted to talk about but will go into depth in my future posts. Merry Christmas and have a safe and happy new year, from our family to yours. 

Elle x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have no bloody idea what I am doing (and thats OK)

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Well, I've taken my sweet time with getting this together but finally i've decided to make a website where I can take everything I have learnt so far on this journey into motherhood and put it all in one place. 

Since having Jagger Rose on January 24th 2016, at 33 weeks + 3 days gestation my life has been turned inside out and upside down. Motherhood is a manic, crazy, intense rollercoaster and personally in this first year, I have really have had no idea what I've been doing and have completely been winging it. But, the most valuable tips, tricks and lessons I have learnt, have been things I have heard through speaking with other mothers. How to settle a baby that is colicky, how to deal with sleep deprivation, how to deal with the pressure from other mothers if you baby isn't considered "textbook", what advice from "sleep professionals" is relevant and what to take with a grain of salt. From dealing with the pressures of breastfeeding to trying to navigate the crazy baby market and find a decent pram.

This blog is going to be a place of honesty, lessons learnt and questions because, I believe all to often women succumb to the pressures of our society, pretending everything is picture perfect and amazing when in fact, it is not. AND THAT IS OK! Life is unpredictable. Motherhood is scary. You are thrust into the position of having to care for this tiny, vulnerable, human being for their entire life. Thats a massive responsibility and a massive head-fuck, and we need to talk about it, not hide behind closed doors feeling anxious and depressed because we feel like we are in it alone. Throughout my journey so far, the biggest thing i have learnt is that i am not alone in all of this. My baby isn't "textbook" and thats perfectly normal. My baby didn't sleep "perfectly" and that too is normal. However society would have me think that there IS something wrong. Something wrong with my baby and something wrong with my parenting. It can make you feel like a massive failure, like you are the only mum on earth who can't get it together, and like your baby is broken. 

This motherhood gig is hard work, however if we can all talk openly and honestly about our experiences and journey there is a lot to gain. So lets take away the facade of this picture perfect mothering gig, be accepting, realise its bloody hard work and that we are doing the best we can with what we have - because it is not always easy, in fact it is damn bloody hard. And all of us, as mothers, need to know that it is ok to lose the plot and have a glass of wine in tears at the end of a crazy day, its ok to get frustrated and lose your temper when you are incredibly sleep deprived and its ok to have no bloody idea what you are doing and just wing it. You are not broken. Your baby is not broken. 

I can't wait to continue to share my crazy journey with you all & to share all of yours.

If you would like to read a little more about our journey to having a child and the struggles we faced head over to my old blog HERE

From one confused mother to another.

Elle x