Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood. Not because I'm planning on having a baby! I have a fur baby called Bear a cheeky wheaten terrier. The Mama Muse project was an idea I had while walking Bear one Sunday afternoon in Sydney Park. I wanted to celebrate mothers, real women in an authentic, unfiltered way and what better way to do this than their children becoming the photographers, taking photographs and doing it on 35mm film with no editing what so ever.
I knew from what I saw online and from speaking to friends that motherhood was often sanitised on social media with images of mamas with the perfect blowout, designer clothes and idealistic life. Real-life I don't think so!
As the project grew and more friends of the brand wanted to get involved the nature of the conversations about motherhood began to open up too. Sometimes to more challenging topics, but it feels a good way to share the highs and the lows of motherhood. As Mama Muse Rachel says in her interview below, if her story can help or comfort even one woman going through the tragedy of losing a baby, then it's worth sharing. Meet, Rachel and baby Harrison.
There is something particularly personal about the letters you have chosen for your necklace, do you mind telling us about it?
I’ve got 2 H’s on my necklace. My sister gifted me my first H in July last year on the day of our son’s funeral. Hugo was stillborn on July 27, 2018, and he was our first child. My second H is for our beautiful rainbow baby Harrison who I truly believe was a gift from Hugo, born on July 23 this year. It has been an incredibly difficult year with many lows and some beautiful highs.
When we fell pregnant with Hugo, I was aware loss was common, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. And until we experienced it firsthand, I didn’t realise just how common it is. Loss during pregnancy comes in so many different forms, from infertility to miscarriage, and stillbirth amongst others. It’s devastating and I don’t think anyone can understand it unless you have experienced it. You become a mum or a dad the second you get those double lines on a pregnancy test. I believe that is something society needs to recognise. I didn’t become a mum when Harrison was born, I became a mum when I fell pregnant with Hugo and I am a mother to two beautiful boys. The only difference is for my story, one of those boys is in heaven watching over his little brother. For so many mums and dads out there who have experienced loss, the title of ‘parent’ is devastatingly ripped away from them. And that’s not right at all, they are just as much of a parent as is someone who has there child at home with them.
If I had any advice for those that haven’t experienced loss, it is to recognise that when you fall pregnant you dream of what your child might be like, you start to plan all the things you will do together. You are constantly thinking of your baby, all day every day. It’s incredibly difficult to go from that dialogue to facing the reality of having all of that ripped away from you. Those that experience loss haven’t just “lost their baby”, they have lost their babies first word, first step, the first day of school, their wedding…they lost the opportunity to see that child grow and develop…they lose every moment with that child, your whole future is altered in that very second.
Do you have a message for other women or couples who have had a similar experience to you?
That you aren’t alone, and to try and connect with others who have experienced loss. It’s a club you never want to be a part of but once you are, you need people around you who truly understand. There are ways to connect with other grieving mothers and fathers on Instagram, there are private Facebook groups, charities and counsellors who can all help. Having these connections got me through those first weeks and months, something I will forever value and be grateful for. Talking about it helped me process it all, and I believe that’s so important to do.
Find your way to grieve, and in whatever way works for you include your child in your life moving forward. Grief is such an individual journey but for me having Hugo constantly part of our lives helps us. He will always be part of our family and a day barely goes by that we don’t say his name. With Christmas approaching something we have decided to do is to get a stocking for both Hugo and Harrison. Each year as a family we will pick a charity to donate to on behalf of Hugo. As Harrison and any other siblings get older, t’s something we can decide together as a family. For me, having meaningful moments and experiences like that helps.
And remember grief is a messy road, it’s okay to have good days and bad days. And be triggered by various events or circumstances over time, grief has a way of hitting us when we least it expects it sometimes. It doesn’t mean you have taken several steps backwards, it’s just the nature of it all. Be kind to yourself. Let yourself feel those emotions and process the grief if we fight it…it has a nasty way of coming back or bubbling away under the surface and can hit us a lot harder down the track.
1 What do you love about being a mother?
Honestly….absolutely everything. Harrison is a little ray of sunshine that brings me so much joy. My unconditional love for him and his for me. Even at just 4 months old to see the resilience in him is so amazing. He recently learnt to roll and he just wants to practice it (all day, every day!)...I think children are a great reminder of not giving up, and even if you can’t do something initially or if it is difficult, they just keep practising and practising and never give up.
2. What do you find the hardest thing about being a mother?
This is a tricky question for me to answer because if I answer in regards to Harrison, it would be nothing. He makes my job as his mum the most enjoyable thing in the world. But if I was to answer in regards to Hugo, it would be to never be able to hold him again or see him grow.
3. What are your go-to beauty products and any favourite brands?
I’ve recently rediscovered Miranda Kerr’s skincare range, Kora. The ingredients are certified organic which I have been attracted to since falling pregnant and becoming a mum. I’ve got the serums, oils, face masks…the lot! And I am a big makeup fan as well…Charlotte Tilbury, Nars, By Terry, Dior and Chantecaille are amongst my favourites.
4. How do you manage to stay in shape?
Being only 4 months postpartum this is very much a work in progress for me! I used to love going for walks, Reformer Pilates and did personal training sessions a few times a week. I am slowly easing back into exercise which is so important for my mental health as well. I’ve been doing short workouts at home when Harrison sleeps, or I’ll pop Harrison in the pram and we go for walks together (which I love doing with him). He is such an active and inquisitive little guy so he loves looking around and I explain all the sights and sounds to him.
5. How do you find time to rest and relax?
This hasn’t happened much yet! My husband will have some playtime with Harrison in the morning before he goes to work which gives me a bit extra sleep and gives my husband and Harrison some special time together. During the day, when Harrison has a nap I need to try do something for me. Sometimes I will do some exercise, other times I will lay down and have a nap, other days I will do absolutely nothing! I try my best to listen to my body and not feel guilty if I don’t do anything. I might only get 5 minutes some days but for now, that is working for me.
6. Where are your favourite places to go in Sydney, restaurants, cafes, kids activities etc.?
We absolutely love living in Potts Point as we can walk everywhere, which is a big plus with a pram and being so close to home. Gypsy is a local favourite for coffee and breakfast. Pre-motherhood my husband and I loved going out for drinks and dinner but this has changed to lunches since Harrison joined us! Going out for lunches on weekends has been a great way to get out of the house with Harrison, a few favourites are Fei Jei, Lotus and Cafe Giorgio’s all in Potts Point.
7. What are your favourite things to do together?
Weekends are really special at the moment to have that family time. We love going for walks, picnics, hanging by the pool, seeing friends, and out to lunch. It was harder to do these things when Harrison was just born so now he’s getting a little older it’s been great to get out and do the things we love. We also love entertaining so having friends over for drinks or a BBQ is a common occurrence as well. I can’t wait to keep doing more fun things as Harrison gets older. I’m looking forward to some family holidays we have coming up as well.
8. Any travel tips with small children or a new baby?
We have had a few weekends away with Harrison and what I found helped was to be prepared, I may have overpacked a little (or a lot!) but it was a big comfort knowing we had everything there with us. And to adopt a ‘go with the flow’ attitude. We were meant to have a picnic but Harrison decided to have an extra-long nap in his cot that day, so we had the picnic on the lounge room floor instead! It was still really fun and we made it special. I’m not sure if this will change as he gets older though!!
9. Where is your favourite place to vacation with your family?
Growing up we would do a family holiday to the snow every year, I can’t wait to continue that tradition with Harrison. And beach holidays in summer, Maldives is my all-time favourite destination but it might be a while before we return there with Harrison!
10 Who’s your favourite fashion brands and what’s your signature style?
My wardrobe is full of dresses. I love Zimmerman and Thurley for special occasions and some of my more casual dresses are from Auguste, Sheike and Rodeo Show. Although I have recently discovered that hardly any are breastfeeding friendly so my style has evolved a little. Comfort is key at the moment, and being able to adapt dresses from day to night is a big plus. I might wear them with white sneakers during the day, and at night change to a pair of heels. If I’m not in a dress I’m in my activewear…I am currently loving Nimble Activewear and have found a few of there tops are breastfeeding friendly.
Rachel wears Love Letters HH necklace in 18k solid white gold.