Karolien and her husband Cliff definitely wanted a baby. But falling pregnant was hard. They tried for several years and became parents through IVF. Their son Cedric, five months old now, is thriving and Karolien and Cliff couldn’t be happier.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, Karolien was placed on bed rest, and was working from home. She describes the last couple of months of her pregnancy as a blur. Karolien’s son was born two months premature, and with that came complications.
“I had to wait a whole week before I could even hold him,” Karolien says. “There was such a build-up, up to that moment. When I finally got to hold him, it was a moment I will never forget.”
Her son was in hospital for five long weeks.
“We became so dependent on the doctors and nurses. I cannot commend them enough. They were amazing. They really put our minds at ease during such a scary time.”
An unforgettable Christmas gift
Karolien and Cliff brought their son home two days before Christmas.
“It was perfect.”
For Karolien, the most surprising part of being a mum has been the ability to function with minimal sleep.
“Those first few weeks – they’re so tough! Getting used to getting up in the middle of the night...even if you miss a lunch – a couple of meals, even, you don’t think twice about it. I have a whole new respect for mothers.”
Make time for mothers’ groups
Joining a mother’s group and having the support of other new parents has been a godsend, says Karolien.
“It has been so relieving and comforting talking to mums who are going through same thing.”
Karolien encourages other new mums to follow her lead.
“Being a new mum can be very lonely. Before you know it, you’re locked up in your house. I recommend every new mum join a mother’s group for the social aspect.”
“It does get easier the more you get to know your baby,” she adds.
First Mother’s Day
It was on Mother’s Day a year ago, in 2017, that Karolien received the exciting news of her pregnancy.
“It’s been a crazy ride. Seeing Cedric’s little smiling face beaming right back at me, or even a little giggle…he’s so happy and healthy. I’m so lucky to be Cedric’s mum. Every day I feel like my heart cannot feel fuller.”
About: 'Those who mum' series
Meet 40 women across Australia, from as far as Cairns in North Queensland to Baldivis in Western Australia, as part of a 40-part editorial and portrait series that celebrates the faces of women and mums from across Australia.