Episode 9

#9 What is the Perfect Age Gap? The Matrescence Podcast

At some stage, every parent has asked themself: What is the perfect age gap? Back to back? Two under two? Wait until one is off to school?   If you have found yourself on Pintrest late at night reading about the perfect age gap, this episode is for you. Throughout this conversation Bree and Kel share their experiences with their with two different age gaps. Kel talks about their conscious decision to have two children close together (14 months apart) for fears that if they gave themselves time to come up for air they would never be ready to go back again.Bree discusses about how a tough postnatal period shaped their decision to have a larger age gap between children (3.5 years) and how she feels about it now. Importantly, this conversation brings to light the many factors that influence a family's decision about how many children to have and when. Acknowledging that this is a deeply personal decision, we explore how to figure out what is right for your family. Themes: Age Gaps, Siblings, Family Size, Two Under Two, Postnatal Anxiety, Postnatal Depression, Perinatal Mental Health. 

Transcript

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Kelly: [00:00:00] The birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life. 

[00:00:15] Bree: [00:00:15] But what about the birth of the mother?

[00:00:17]Kelly: [00:00:17] That’s right. When a baby he’s born. So too is a mother. 

[00:00:20] Bree: [00:00:20] This transition from woman to mother has the name it’s called Matrescence. 

[00:00:26] Kelly: [00:00:26] This developmental state is as powerful and irreversible as adolescents and very few women have ever heard of it.

[00:00:32] Bree: [00:00:32] So let’s talk about it 

[00:00:34] Kelly: [00:00:34] and let’s talk about it. Each episode, we will bring you honest and thought-provoking conversations, evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests in order to help you emerge a more powerful and aligned version of yourself. 

[00:00:47] Bree: [00:00:47] So join us, your hosts, Kelly and Bree, as we attempt to make sense of our Matrescence journey and to help you make sense of yours.

[00:01:02] this episode, we talk about a topic that we are not hearing conversations about, but we have to asse that we are not the only people who have grappled with this. And that is how your postpartumum experience can affect your decision about when you choose to have more children and Kelly and I have had very different experiences here, but at the core they’re the same.

[00:01:22] So this is a topic that is very relevant to me. I’m now 33 weeks pregnant and very quickly approaching that postpartumum period. So we wanted to share our experiences and how. It can shape your decisions. So 

[00:01:37] Kelly: [00:01:37] join us as we talk things Matrescence. 

[00:01:41] Bree: [00:01:41] So Kel, I know we’re going to get into my experience today, but I really want to start with you and understand what you were thinking, going into having children.

[00:01:50] So obviously we’ve spoken about the fact that Angus is a little bit of a surprise. So you hadn’t really thought through that. I would imagine how many children you are going to have, what that gap was going to be. But when you were pregnant, did you have an idea of what kind of age gap you would leave between.

[00:02:06] Children. Did you want more than one? Where were you at? So 

[00:02:09] Kelly: [00:02:09] for me, I always knew I wanted more than one child. Uh, and look, this is one of those. Things that you carry over from your childhood. I’m not saying it was a positive thing, but I do remember my m always saying that she never wanted to have an only child because she felt that that that child might be a bit spoiled or they might not have that access to learning from a sibling.

[00:02:30] And so I think that was always inside of me. So as soon as I did fall pregnant with the first child, it was almost like a well it’s yep. Two or nothing, you know, two or bust. So for me, I think that was always going to be at least two. Yeah. Uh, I think my husband was probably keen for more, but for me it was like, I’m done two’s enough.

[00:02:49] So that was almost like a fait accompli in my mind, right there wrongly. Uh, I don’t remember ever thinking about the second child during the first pregnancy. I do. Remember though, because my boys are 14 and a half months apart. Right. So very close, close. So I pretty much fell pregnant whilst being a breastfeeding m, which is not an uncommon story.

[00:03:11] And in fact, I did fall pregnant between those pregnancies as well. And my body was absolutely not in a place where it could carry that baby and was very, very 

[00:03:20] Bree: [00:03:20] early. If you don’t mind me asking how. How many weeks postpartum are you 

[00:03:24] Kelly: [00:03:24] roughly? I, it was the very first time that we had sex after Angus. I can saved, I kid you not.

[00:03:32] And it was like, and was that intentional? No. No. I think we all have this idea that you don’t. Breastfeed your baby, you for six weeks, you’ll be fine. And meth people. It’s amazing. So I literally can save that very first time. That is a whole nother discussion about going, getting back on the horse sexually after pregnancy, but let’s just say I can saved on the very first time.

[00:03:56] It was very, very early. I can’t say it’s exactly six weeks, but it was incredibly close afterwards. 

[00:04:01] Bree: [00:04:01] And did that experience. Change your ideas around wanting to have another baby. Did it make you go? Yes. I definitely want this. We want this. Or did it make you think you might want to hold off a little bit more because you would have been so in the thick of newborn postpartumum than 

[00:04:17] Kelly: [00:04:17] I was, I.

[00:04:19] I think by that point, when I, I knew that I had can saved, I was like, well, we’re in it now we might as well keep going through it. And you know, I always think of that. We’re going on a bear hunt. No, no, no way out of it. No way. Just got to go through it. Yeah. So I was very much, but the early days of being a mother for me was quite mechanical.

[00:04:36] So I knew I had to keep the baby alive on your head to keep the family alive. And it was like, just do it. So in a sense, my experience of choosing to have another child very close, it was very much about saying it’s. It’s not going to get better. There’s no, there’s no good time. Just do it now. Have two babies in nappies and just, and just go, just go just fully lean into the whole thing and just go for it.

[00:05:02] So that, that meant that I did not use contraception at all. , and just continued on, so obviously fell pregnant very, very quickly, but then it was like, Oh, well, you know, if that’s the case, , I, to be honest, I don’t even think I was conscious of the fact that my body was probably still experiencing postpartumum drama in terms of what Morgan’s going back together and the ability to carry another baby, but absolutely it happens.

[00:05:27] And so that, that whole process of me deciding to go back for a baby was, was my choice. And I don’t think my husband was keen. I think he was quite traumatized, which is a whole other conversation again, , because he was still coping with the idea of being a father of one. Of being a, you know, what’s happened to our relationship and I was like, well, we’re just going to keep going.

[00:05:50] And so by the time I did fall pregnant with my second child, I, you know, I can’t remember the exact, but I would say it was, you know, Angus was eight or nine months old. Uh, he was still breastfeeding and I was pregnant. So I basically had a baby and I was having another baby. And. So that, that for me was my choice of, there’s no reason to wait.

[00:06:12] Yeah. You’re 

[00:06:12] Bree: [00:06:12] already in this very cognitive decision, a very, you know, as he said, mechanical, where in it let’s keep doing it. It wasn’t a very emotional one. It was just a means to an 

[00:06:23] Kelly: [00:06:23] end. Yes, absolutely. I was not at all in touch with my own emotions or feelings about being a mother. At that point, it was absolutely not something that I was really immensely, enjoying being a mother.

[00:06:38] I didn’t feel like this lovely, you know, feeling the energy and what have you. It was like, well, this is incredibly tough, baby. So I may as well just keep, like, let’s just go through it and do it all again now. The, the kind of bookend of that is I was on my doctor’s doorstep when Jack was six weeks old going, I won.

[00:06:59] To have at that my choice, there was a Marina I want to Marina installed  and them saying to me, Oh no, no, no. Don’t worry about it. Just go and breastfeed baby. I’m like, no way. I’m not leaving until you do one. Sorry. Yeah, I’ve got my tacky scale. Two’s enough. I’m done. And then being like really a, your cervix is too.

[00:07:16] And I’m like, I don’t care. I can not have another baby. Baby now I knew then that, that was it. I was actually completely at my limit and there was no way that I would be able to entertain that. Now, luckily for me, I had a completely different experience with my second child who was an absolute delight, , and just smiled and laughed and Googled and was, you know, delightful.

[00:07:37] But there were many, many, many years. And as I turned 40. Because my husband always wanted a little girl. We had two boys. , and of course everybody’s happy with a healthy child, but. As I was approaching 40, I sort of sat him down and I said, this is it. Like, do you want another? Cause we had this joke over all the years in between about let’s go back and have another baby.

[00:07:59] And I was like, I don’t, I’m not ready. It’s not for me. I don’t need, you know, my life is fulfilled. I’m very happy with my boys, but I did sit him down and say, okay, this is it. Last chance. Saloon, do you want to go again because I’m approaching 40 and I don’t really, for various reasons of my own, want to, to go there after that.

[00:08:16] And he, Hunter went, ah, nah, I’m I feel really fulfilled now. So that, that go fast, go hard, go early. It was tough, but now my boys are incredibly close. Uh, I just put my head into their room and they’re sitting side by side playing on, you know, on a device, which at their age 11 and. And 12 is not uncommon, but they’re sitting there side-by-side we have a whole house.

[00:08:40] So that gives us an idea of that connection. So that’s my story. Now over to you, 

[00:08:45] Bree: [00:08:45] I was going to say quickly, interestingly, I remember having this conversation with your husband and, , probably five years ago now. , And he was talking about that, that nagging feeling of like, do we do it one more time? Do we, you know, but he expressed how good it felt to pack away the cot and to not need to take a nappy bag anymore.

[00:09:06] And he kind of said for him, once he did those things, it was like, actually, I’m glad to be closing that chapter. And I wonder with how. How tough Angus was as a baby. If you had had the time and the distance to reflect on the hardness of those times, would you have had a harder time going back a second time than if you just stayed in it and hadn’t really processed it yet?

[00:09:31] I 

[00:09:31] Kelly: [00:09:31] think that there’s definitely an element of that is to be honest as if I don’t do it now, I may never do it. Like, Oh, we need to do this because before I changed my mind, because I know I want a second child. Yeah. And yeah, it it’s, it’s so hard, but as soon as it starts to get better, I’m not 

[00:09:47] Bree: [00:09:47] going to want to go back.

[00:09:48] Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And that, that does lead really nicely into my journey because I had a similar experience so much shorter. So after the birth of my first child, they wheeled me up to the maternity ward and I felt amazing. Like I still had my epidural in and I felt incredible. And my husband was like, We are never doing that again.

[00:10:08] Never like one is enough. Whereas I was like, what do you mean? That was amazing. I’m ready for nber two now, like let’s do it. And that lasted for about two weeks. And then the hormones dropped that sleep deprivation set in and I was kind of like, Whoa, this is a lot. And that feeling kind of continued for about.

[00:10:30] 18 months. And if anything, for me, it got more intense, not less intense. So it wasn’t that I found the newborn experience incredibly tough. It was that whole year and a half. And I think there’s a few reasons for that. But you know, when you’re a new m, everyone is. Showing up for you, hopefully, , you know, there is, I had a lot of support and company and all those things then, but then when we hit that kind of like six to 12 months, it’s like, well, you know, you’re a seasoned mom, you know what you’re doing?

[00:11:00] But he wasn’t sleeping. I felt like I had lost my sense of identity and. Let go of all the things that were important to me and kept me functioning as a han being. And that was when it got really tough for me. And at that point, I really seriously considered having one child. And I had come from a family of four.

[00:11:24] I’d always wanted a big family, probably three felt like my good nber and. Yeah. I just got to that point where I could not even entertain the idea of putting myself through that again, not the birth. It was everything that came after 

[00:11:41] Kelly: [00:11:41] you said something really important there, which is that between that six to 12 months, there’s this almost switching that happens where we go.

[00:11:48] Oh, well you’re okay. Now, like yeah. You you’ve been doing it for six months, so you’ll be fine. And that’s part of the really important crux of our conversations about Matrescence is that it is ongoing. Every stage is new. Every stage has new transitions. And I often say to people, I’m making it up all the time.

[00:12:08] It’s not like I know what I’m doing, but what is worse is when people start to label you, that you should know. 

[00:12:16] Bree: [00:12:16] And we labeled  

[00:12:18] Kelly: [00:12:18] that’s right. And so there would becomes a really big expectation gap and then judgment and resentment creeping and all the while you’re sitting there saying, well, how come I’m supposed to know I’ve been doing this for six months and it’s actually a different child now than the newborn.

[00:12:33] Yeah. 

[00:12:33] Bree: [00:12:33] And this is something that we’re definitely hearing from moms on our social media, which if you haven’t already found us on Instagram or at Matrescence stock podcast, is m saying that. It’s at that stage where they started to experience burnout. You know, it’s, I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and it’s still hard and it’s not getting easier and I’m still not getting any sleep and it’s still straining my marriage.

[00:12:57] And that was definitely my experience. And there was a brief period in there where I entertain the same idea as you did as. If I don’t do it now, I’m not sure I’ll ever do it. And I was starting to feel the pressure as well of people asking, you know, when are you going to have another one? And I was doing a lot of Pinterest searching for what is the perfect age gap.

[00:13:19] And I think that there’s a lot of conversation in our society about having kids close together. And this concept that there’ll be best friends, which is true for some and not true for others. But I did feel the pressure of that and thinking that I would be doing my children a disservice if I left a long age gap.

[00:13:38] And I was also mindful that my husband was 10 years older and while he never pressured me, he was kind of like, Oh, you know, like time is ticking here. But at some point I just realized that. This was not going to be the right choice for our family, that we were never going to be two under two. And I honestly think that it would have been to the demise of my marriage and really would have strained, not only that relationship, but my relationship with myself and with my child, so that if we had decided to have to close together, because at that point it was so hard.

[00:14:15] And I don’t think I could. Wrap my mind around staying in that level of hardness. For another year, two years plus. So that was, that was kind of my journey. And that would have been about 12 to 18 months at that point. , which is when we got married. So we had a lot going on anyway, and I kind of just reserved myself to this idea that I may never have another child.

[00:14:41] And that was not what I. Wanted personally, it’s not what my husband wanted, but at the end of the day I was the one going through it. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t hard for my husband, cause it certainly was. But I knew that I needed to get to a place where I felt really confident in that decision or I could just end up feeling very resentful.

[00:15:00] , and just losing 

[00:15:02] Kelly: [00:15:02] myself. It links back to a few things that you’ve mentioned. In other words, Posts and discussions around the whole concept that certain things last for a season, not for a lifetime, but when you’re in it, it can like, it’s very fine. And, you know, whilst yeah, there’s many benefits to having my kids very close together.

[00:15:21] , now my eldest being 12, mm. From about the age of nine or 10, he desperately wanted a younger sibling. And I’m very lucky that we have your children now soon to be children in our lives, because that will help fulfill some of that need in him. So I feel it would have been a wonderful experience for him to feel that he could.

[00:15:39] Care for a younger sibling and love the youngest sibling. Unfortunately, we started quite late. So by the time he hit that age, I was already at 40 and my choice was not to do that, , at that age, but I can see how it would be a wonderful experience for our kids to have a younger sibling, if there was the big gap.

[00:15:56] So there are pros and cons to everything, and it always comes back to week. One of the things we didn’t want to do on this. Podcast was to tell you what the answers were. We actually wanted to tell you what we’ve experienced and struggle with and, and give you open up a space to say there’s so many ways to do that.

[00:16:12] Bree: [00:16:12] Yeah. And I think that a big realization for me has been that there is no perfect age gap, that there are pros and cons to every different age gap, and you need to figure out what feels most right for you. And. My little boy is now three and we’re expecting very soon, hopefully another one. So there’s going to be about three and a half years between them and for us so far, this feels like a beautiful age gap because he’s really understanding the process he’s invested in it.

[00:16:41] He’s excited about it. And also I know that I can communicate with him about my needs. So I can say to him, you know, mommy’s feeding the baby. I will come play with you as soon as I’m done, or, , I just need you to be a PA patient for a second, be patient for a second. I’ve got to go do something quickly and he can understand that and he can occupy himself.

[00:17:05] And that has been so reassuring for me that he won’t be confused by why I’m suddenly busy and distracted and unable to give him all of my attention, , and to see him. No, hopefully be really nurturing towards his sibling because he’s that bit older is something I’m looking forward to. So that’s some of the pros of this age gap for us.

[00:17:27] And they would be different if you had 200 to two, or if you had a big six or eight year age gap, or even further, I think there’s pros and cons for both. And if you do something because someone tells you it’s right, or because society tells you it’s right. It could end up being a lot tougher for you than if you just listened to what feels right for you.

[00:17:45] Definitely. 

[00:17:46] Kelly: [00:17:46] And you know, what we wanted to talk about today was how do you know. When you’re ready. And, you know, my experience was, I, I actually don’t think I was ready and I didn’t know when I’d be ready, but it was just, uh, uh, very much a bullish, get it done, kind of experience. And, and that’s not what I would recommend to others.

[00:18:05] Uh, it was what I did, but it. It is what it is. What I’d like to do is get a bit of, , a brief, I guess, thought process about what are the things that you felt that you needed to be ready to make that decision for yourself? Because the time is almost irrelevant. It’s actually more what the pieces of the puzzle you wanted to put in place to rebuild your sense of foundational stability in your role as a mother, to be prepared for the next 

[00:18:29] Bree: [00:18:29] child.

[00:18:30] There was a lot, honestly, there was a lot, it was that entire kind of two and a half years that I spent trying to figure out what would make me feel ready. And this is a conversation that I’ve had with another m in who’s currently in the thick of it. And she was saying, you know, I don’t think I’m ever going to be ready to go back.

[00:18:46] And that is fine. And that is valid. If you choose one as being right for your family, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I reassured her from my experience that the day will come and you will know. And you will be ready. And for me, that didn’t just happen. It was a very intentional process. So a big part of it was setting myself up for a positive birth, I believe in the power of a positive birth to give you a great start to postpartum.

[00:19:16] And so. I worked hard to assemble my birth team and get clear on my priorities and my values around birth prior to even falling pregnant. So when I did, it was a case of just locking that in. , I also worked with a counselor and am still working with a counselor to process that experience and. Work out what made it so hard for me because postpartum is hard in general, but if you can identify a few things that really compounded that, that are within your control, I think that gives you that feeling that you have some control over this experience being different.

[00:19:52] , that was another shift was. Just being able to recognize that no two pregnancies are the same. No two births are the same. No two children are the same. And just because that was my experience once does not mean it will be my experience. Again, I am older, I’m wiser. I have some experience in parenting.

[00:20:13] I have more support and that this could be a positive experience for me. , so there was a lot of things that I had to do to get to that place. And when I did it, I, it came to me in a moment. I, it was one day and I was like, I’m ready. You know, it didn’t sneak up on me. It was just one day when I went. Ah, I’m ready for their second.

[00:20:39] I can do this again. And I shared that with my husband and he was like, okay, like, let’s go, let’s go. We had, we had sex that night and I fell pregnant. So there was no opportunity to change my mind. , which I think was good. And, but yeah, it did, it did happen. I got there in the end and it took a while, but if you’re in that place where you are.

[00:21:04] You know, really unsure of going back for another child. If you put in the work and trust in the process, I think that you will get there. 

[00:21:12] Kelly: [00:21:12] Yeah. Something has just come to mind, which neither of us experienced, but I know many people will have is making up your mind that you’re ready and then not being able to conceive.

[00:21:23] Now, we obviously had an opposite experience, which was very quickly after going into that falling. Pregnant straight away having no chance to back out, but I think there’s a whole other element of unpacking the whole, taking a time to decide you’re ready and then being so ready and not being able to conceive, which is not an area that I feel that we, , that certainly that I don’t have, , the.

[00:21:48] Anything to add on, but I know, I know there’ll be people out there and if need be in the future, if people are interested, we can certainly seek out someone who can give us some advice on that front. So please do let us know in the 

[00:21:58] Bree: [00:21:58] comments. And I definitely. I’ve had this conversation with many ms, , in my life personally, of knowing that you were ready and then things just not lining up for you.

[00:22:10] And that is a very common experience. And as you said, it’s not one we can speak to, but that is a whole different emotional process. And, , I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to find someone to come on and share from that perspective. , but another thing that is relevant to this conversation. Are experiences like postpartum, depression and anxiety in that they have really high recurrence rates in subsequent pregnancies.

[00:22:35] It doesn’t guarantee that you will go through it again, but it’s quite likely. And so, yeah. Once, you know what you’re getting yourself into, you’ve been there and experienced that it can be really hard to entertain the idea of putting yourself back in that position. And I think that that is why it is so important to work in with a professional to understand that experience and as much as possible set you up for success.

[00:23:01] , and while I felt really confident. Going through the majority of my pregnancy in the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a switch from focusing on the birth to starting to think forward to postpartum. And those, those feelings are coming up for me again. And I’m incredibly grateful to be linked in with a counselor who knows me and has a baseline for, you know, this is Bree, as I knew her.

[00:23:28] And to then help me identify like, Hey, you seem a little bit off or. You know, the, the tone of these conversations is changing. And to know that I have someone who will be able to flag me if things are going downhill, because when you’re in it, it’s so hard to identify just where things took a turn and started to head downhill.

[00:23:49] And so that’s been a big part of this experience is sharing with you and sharing with my husband and with my counselor. Like these are the things that I’ve identified as being red flags for my mental health. Things like I stopped wanting to do basic, , like personal care things. Like, I don’t want to take my makeup off at the end of the day.

[00:24:11] I don’t want to have a shower, things like that. I don’t value myself and want to, you know, tend to myself. So saying to you, like, Hey, if I’m on day three of not showering, we probably need to have a chat. And knowing that I have other people who have my back and Ken. You know, it helped me identify where I’m at has been really reassuring for me.

[00:24:31] Kelly: [00:24:31] Yes. And the postpartum experience and the spectr of joy through to, , the feelings of loss. It’s a very wide spectr. And whilst there is a lot of amazing resources now and focus on postpartum depression, I think there’s a space in between that, which is actually just. Postpartum living and life and acceptance and expectations of yourself and others, which doesn’t fall to the end of spectr of depression, which I think we have some work to do, but some great resources.

[00:25:10] And it’s this middle area of uncertainty. So when you’ve done it the first time around you now have a better framework with which to put the. The support mechanisms in place. But when you go into the first time, you actually don’t know what you don’t know. You have no idea what you might need. There’s other things you think you need, but those can be often quite.

[00:25:33] Bree: [00:25:33] Yeah. And you’re totally right. And that was something that was really tough for me to make sense of. Is that okay? I’m not sure whether I fell under the banner of postpartum anxiety or depression. I very much suspect the postpartum anxiety side of it fit me very well based on my experience, but I was never diagnosed with it.

[00:25:53] And. Therefore I had this feeling of, well, why am I finding it so hard then? You know, I, I have good support. I have people that love me. I have a great supportive partner and I have no, you know, mental illness to, in my mind justify why I was suffering so much. And so I really invalidated my own experience.

[00:26:13] And I think that that’s quite common for women to feel as though. They’re doing it wrong. And sometimes that label can make people feel as though it makes sense. And it’s justified. And I want to reassure people that you don’t need that label. If you feel that you need to go through that process and be diagnosed and get that support.

[00:26:32] Absolutely do it. But if you’re just having a hard time recognize that that is valid too. And that the way we parent in this day and age. Makes it hard and it’s not that you’re doing anything wrong. It’s that you’re doing it. Right. And it’s just hard in itself. And that you don’t need to justify. Why you’re struggling 

[00:26:50] Kelly: [00:26:50] so much.

[00:26:51] Yeah. Yeah. And I think this is probably the first, one of the first times in these conversations, you probably revealed just how challenging that postpartum period has been, which has also been part of that channeling of this creative energy. That we have around the Matrescence podcast and your Instagram to really help others prepare.

[00:27:12] And then I’m sure we’ll do the same in the postpartum, because that is almost part of your process of healing and sharing so that others can benefit from that as well. 

[00:27:22] Bree: [00:27:22] Yeah, for sure. And I think that it’s an interesting point because that was probably the single most important factor in me being ready to have another child was.

[00:27:32] Bringing things back into my life that made me feel like me because it’s so easy for those to get lost in motherhood. And for you to feel disconnected from what. Makes you, you and brings you joy and pleasure and what you find fun. And it wasn’t until I had brought those things back in and felt like I had set myself up as a woman, not just a mother, that I was ready to return to that role.

[00:27:57] So for me, that was. Volunteering and returning to uni and, , going on dates with my husband again, just recognizing that I was a person before I was a mother and that I was still that person, , allowed me to go back into the motherhood experience and immerse myself in that. , so I would really advocate for that if you were in that stage too.

[00:28:20] Look outside of motherhood and what fulfills you and what brings you joy? And I think that that can be a really important step. 

[00:28:28] Kelly: [00:28:28] Yes. There’s something that sparked my interest that we talked about a little while ago. When we bring back, when we fall pregnant, typically we find out somewhere between four and 12 weeks.

[00:28:40] Now there’s always outliers, but typically that period of time, which means that we have between six and eight months to prepare for this process. And there’s very few pregnant women I’ve ever met, who haven’t got to. 35 30, six, 38 weeks. And be like, I am kind of had enough now. I’m pretty tired. I’m uncomfortable.

[00:29:03] So there’s this build up and then we give birth. And when there’s a lot of focus on that initial postpartum period, particularly the first 90 days, and I’m wondering if this is almost like a mirroring, if you think of the nine months before in the nine months after that, that warning period as you approach that, that eight, nine month period.

[00:29:24] Big things are coming up. Like, should I continue to breastfeed? How is my child going with solids? But you’re also from a motherly perspective, all of those reserves have run out. You’ve tried every possible thing, but it’s right at the point where society is expecting that you got this now. , like you dress the baby up pretty, you’re able to go out.

[00:29:46] People are thinking about returning to work. And so it’s such an important crux point. I think between six and 12 months for mothers, when at that time there’s so much focus on the baby. And that’s also that time when you’ve got people that you say searching Instagram and Pinterest and Googling about what sleep and feeding and solids and all of these.

[00:30:10] External things about trying to get control in our lives. And I wonder how much of that if we force focus inward was actually about our reclaiming and, and identifying again as other roles in our life. But you know, what, who am I as a woman again? What are the things that I like to do? How do I rebuild my energy reserves?

[00:30:30] And. So that I can continue to support and nurture this child. Yeah. And I think 

[00:30:35] Bree: [00:30:35] that begin begins with an acknowledgement that the postpartum period is a lot longer than we typically acknowledge in our society. So generally we. Limit that to about six weeks postpartum. Sometimes they step stretch it to three months, but it is years, you know, some people say, and I believe that once you have a baby, your forever postpartum, and I think that’s very true and eventually.

[00:30:59] The intensity wanes, and you have more time and more space and more capacity to start to think about, you know, what you can bring in and make space for in your life. That is yours. And when you’re in the newborn period, that is incredibly difficult to do, but. As you approached that 12 month Mark and beyond, there is a little bit more space for that.

[00:31:19] And that continues to increase, you know, when your baby is three or five or seven, and you know, you now have a lot more time for that in this stage of life. , granted it’s filled with other things, but I think that that is really important to know that if you, in the thick of that newborn period, It stays hard, but it’s less intense.

[00:31:40] And if you can prioritize that as your child is getting a little bit older, you can have a better sense of self and what’s important to you. And what makes you, you, and that then funnels back into your parenting and makes you a more calm, more relaxed, more fulfilled parent. So it’s not at all selfish.

[00:31:58] It’s. It’s actually a very selfless thing to do and so 

[00:32:00] Kelly: [00:32:00] important. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, I guess one story to give you a reflection on that at that stage, I am out of parenting this week. We had a couple of rough nights with sleep and that’s another taboo thing. People don’t talk about that, that disrupted sleep occurs right through, into teenage years.

[00:32:18] Uh, because as we sometimes have a bad night’s sleep, so to our children, , there’s always musical beds that goes on in almost every family that I know. Well enough to tell me the truth. And so I had some of those nights what’s shifted for me. And this process of talking about things it’s helped me to really immerse myself in it is lying there with a 12 year old boy and realizing that this will end one day and sooner than you realize sooner than you think.

[00:32:46] And we are so much, you know, on the precipice of precipice of him becoming an adult, that if he needs me to be up at night with him, then. I just need to just let everything else go and be there with him big, right. At a time when I’m also reclaiming my identity as a woman and having my own interests and lives outside of being a mother, I’m choosing to step back into that wholly and just be there with him and hold him through that period, because he’s not an adult yet, but he’s no longer my baby either.

[00:33:17] So, you know, the whole roles we play and in. Our lives as women and throughout our Matrescence journey is very complex, but that, you know, mindfulness of being in it and, and almost enjoying it, even though I have lay there at night and going, Oh, but I haven’t done this and I’ve got this tomorrow. And what if I’m tired just saying stop for this moment.

[00:33:40] Just, this is what it is, except it. Yeah. And being able to then talk about that and share that with others who may have felt the same thing, but didn’t talk about it. 

[00:33:49] Bree: [00:33:49] So those who aren’t there yet, you know, there were many stretches of time in early parenting for me, where I was not enjoying it, I was just surviving.

[00:33:57] I was doing what needed to be done. I was taking long exhales to get through the day or through the night. And. You know, knowing that it does get easier, it’s still gonna be hard, but it will get easier. And you will be able to find those moments of joy as time goes on. It’s reassuring because if you’re not there yet, that’s okay.

[00:34:17] And you will get there. 

[00:34:18] Kelly: [00:34:18] Very true. And look, I think that’s probably a good place to wrap up this conversation as always. It’s about solidarity. It’s about sharing our stories, that in the hope that you might pick something up out of it and, uh, As I love my sayings when things are tough, I often say to myself, well, do you want to be on the rollercoaster or the roundabout?

[00:34:36] And you know, I’d pick the rollercoaster any day and Parenthood is a rollercoaster, but sometimes when you’re at the top of the curve, you’ve got to remember to put your hands in the air and scream with joy. And when you’re down on those big dips, just hang on because at the other end, there’s 

[00:34:48] Bree: [00:34:48] another app.

[00:34:50] Absolutely. And we plan to bring you another podcast on some things you can do to prepare for a positive postpartum experience. This is not an advice podcast. This is our, we see you. We feel you. We are right there with you kind of podcast, but there are definitely some tangible things that you can do to have a better experience next time round.

[00:35:09] And we will definitely bring you that if that is something you’re interested in. 

[00:35:12] Kelly: [00:35:12] Thanks and bye for now.

[00:35:17] Thanks for joining us for today’s conversation. If you want to hear more like this, don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode. If you’d like to learn more about anything that you talked about or you heard on the podcast. Check out our website, http://www.birthofamother.com. You can find us on Instagram at Matrescence dot podcast or send us an email to  dot com.

[00:35:42] Bree: [00:35:42] If you think others could benefit from this podcast. Take a screenshot of you listening to this episode, to post on social media and tag us, alternatively, consider leaving a rebate is your favorite things about the Matrescence. This really helps us to increase our visibility and ensure we every month as many women as possible as always thank you for spending your time with us.

[00:36:03] We hope you will tune in next time.

Kelly and Bree


kelly@birthofamother.com.au
brianna@birthofamother.com.au

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