The #mezayamumproject is a chance to open up conversation around motherhood and share about our experiences as parents. 

Here we talk to Carolijn from bycarolijn.com

Carolijn Braeken is a writer, 27. She lives with her Partner Willem (30) and baby Olivia - 6 months old. Last year they moved from Amsterdam to a small village nearby, in order for Olivia to grow up with space and nature. And oh, there's also their beloved labrador Frits.



 What did you find most challenging about pregnancy, birth or during the early days?

Pregnancy: letting go of control - I was so worried something would happen to her, that she wasn't healthy, that I would have a miscarriage. I'm quite the control freak, so it was hard for me to not constant worry. I think I never really stopped worrying during the entire pregnancy.
During the early days, I had the same issue. She was so small, so tiny, so vulnerable. I was afraid something would happen to her, someone would drop her, or that she would stop breathing somehow. I'm pretty relieved she's not a newborn anymore and that she doesn't look that fragile anymore. 



 Birth. Is it what you had expected?!

No! I didn't do a birthing class or anything (only pregnancy yoga), but I did read a lot about it. However, I was realistic and aware that birth is one of those things that can be planned. So I decided to just wait and see what would happen. Once labour started everything went quite well, until the last hour: Olivia's heartbeat dropped rapidly and it turned out the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Luckily we were already in the hospital so a team of experienced doctors was there to help (in the Netherlands it isn't standard procedure to have your baby in the hospital, you can choose to have a home labour if you and your baby are healthy and if you didn't have any complications during your pregnancy). That last hour was traumatizing, the first weeks after she was born I kept having flashbacks. I thought I was going to lose my baby and it still makes me cry every time I think about it.


    The shift from maiden to mother is a sudden and epic one - the birth (or adoption) of your child changes life forever. Suddenly your shift moves from yourself to your new baby. How was this adjustment for you?  
It felt so natural. Once I was fully recovered physically and mentally (after two weeks) my boyfriend had to go to work again and here I was, all by myself, with a little baby that had made me a mother. I was nervous for the first 30 minutes, but after that I felt so strong. I knew I had this, that it was my job to take care of this little miracle. And after that first day alone together I was so proud of myself for doing such a good job. From that moment I knew I loved motherhood. 



There's a saying it takes a village to raise a child. Do you have or have you found it important to have a tribe or support network of help, family or friends around you? Or perhaps help from your own mother, sisters?

Of course, it's great to have my partner, my parents, my sisters, and my friends to help me whenever I need help. I'm always relieved when my boyfriend is home from his work, so that he can watch her for a second, so I can go to the bathroom without having to listen if Olivia is doing okay - for example. All you single mothers out there, I salute you. Some days I'm so tired and exhausted the only thing that get's me through the day is knowing that my partner is there to help me in the evening.


 How do you feel becoming a mothers has changed you as a person or your outlook/perspective on life?
It's such a cliche, but becoming a parent puts everything in perspective. A body thas isn't so slim anymore, a giant zip on your forehead, a photo that doesn't get that many likes on Instagram - I really don't care. As long I have my baby and my boyfriend, and we're all healthy - nothing else matters.


 What piece of advice do you want your babies to learn from you and always remember?

Just be you! Be proud of the person you are (becoming). You are unique and worth it and don't ever ever ever let someone else tell you any different.

What do you love the most about this chapter of your life, these adventures of motherhood?
Seeing a little person discovering the world around her, herself, her body. And, something I didn't expected, I get to know myself better too - my flaws and my strengths.


 I heard somewhere that ambition was once identified as part of a woman's maternal instinct. How do you feel your ambition for pursuing your dreams has changed since entering motherhood? Do you feel you have become more creative, less creative, longing to fulfil a different side of you but have a lack of time for yourself, or perhaps motherhood has made you feel beautifully content and complete? Talk to us about this..

A few years ago my career was everything for me - I was a lawyer at a topshot firm and being a lawyer was my whole life. It looked like I had it all, but deep down inside I felt empty and alone. I had a burnout, I quit my job and decided to follow my dreams - become a writer and a creative. I felt so much happier and saying goodbye to my lawyer life was one of the best decisions I have ever made. But still, there was something missing. That all changed when became a mother - I have never felt so calm, so complete, so serene. I don't care about career or status. As long as she is a happy, healthy baby - that's all I need.


 Mothers and caregivers raise the next generation, what values or mindset are you passionate to ensure you instil in your child/ children?

Confidence, for sure. I was bullied when I was younger and as a result I didn't have any confidence when I was a teenager. Integrity and kindness, also. Be yourself and be kind to everyone around you - the world would be a much better place to live in if everyone would teach those values to their children.


Mothers are constantly caring for others and often balancing their world on their shoulders! How do you carve out time for yourself and your spouse, not forgetting other family members and friends?

I have to admit, I don't know! Olivia is only 6 months old, and she won't drink any milk accept from me, so I have to be constantly around here. During these past six months I've only had a few hours in total alone time. Yes, that's pretty though from time to time. But I know it's just a phase - soon she'll be a toddler and I'll miss those baby days.


 Never underestimate the power of a woman is a favourite mezayamum quote. Do you feel having a baby has made you feel stronger and more confident then pre baby or do you find it's brought to the surface your vulnerability and emotions? 

Yes, I feel so much stronger. Hey, I made a human! I'm proud of myself for doing that, I thank my body everyday for her achievement. 


 What is your best piece of advice for new mums?

My mantra is: "It's just a phase!". Somedays your baby won't nap, or sleep during the night, or won't eat. Or your baby wants to be carried, the whole day. It's rough, you're tired, you want to sleep, maybe some alone time. But it's just a phase, this too will pass. Try to let go, don't fight it, it's okay. You got this momma.



Carolijn wears the Mezaya Oatmeal Linen sling. You can follow Carolijn on Instagram @bycarolijn and read her blog at bycarolijn.com

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