Dimity Leigh Hand- 30
Michael Raymond Hand- 30
Zaeli Olimpiada Hand- 8 months
Living in our dream beach cottage in Sydney Northern Beaches. I met Mike at a house party 10 years ago; we got married 2 years ago and now we have been blessed with our first baby girl Zaeli. We are a young, active family that love being by the sea. I feel pretty damn blessed with how lucky in life I have been…I could not have written a better life for myself thus far, and it is only going to get better now that we have little Zaeli in our lives. I cannot wait for all our new adventures as a little family…and hopefully we will be lucky enough to add a couple more precious cherubs to our family in the future!
We live in the Northern Beaches, Sydney. Australia.
- Dimity: Visual Arts Technician (currently on maternity leave)
- Mike: State Sales manager for Orthopedics
5 favourite things/items?
- Family: My husband and baby are my whole world!
- Beach: I am happiest when by the sea
- Photos: I think it is so important to document everyday life. I love looking through old family photos and reflecting on the memories.
- Flowers: I have always had a passion for flowers. My husband always says that I should have been a florist!
- Iphone- As a new Mum I love that an iphone means we access to take photos at all times. Wether you love it or hate it, the iphone camera has changed the way we take photos. Social media is also a saviour during all the hours of sitting and breastfeeding. I love how instagram has a sort of ‘mum hub’ that connects Mummas from all around the world in a wonderful virtual way.
What are you most passionate about?
- Baby Wearing: I swear by baby wearing for a calm Mumma and Bubba!
For the first couple months of Zaeli’s life she only liked sleeping on me (like most newborns). I would be stuck on the couch with her sleeping on my chest all day long. Then I was introduced to baby wearing by the lovely brand Chekoh. For the first 3 months, I use to wrap Zaeli in my ‘Chekoh’ sling for every day-time nap. Zaeli would sleep in the sling for 2-3hrs at a time. I would just go about my normal daily activities (washing, walking, talking with friends, cooking dinner…yep even going to the toilet!!!). Zaeli would be deep in sleep and I had the freedom to continue about my day….my chekoh sling literally saved my sanity for those first couple months. I honestly believe that Zaeli was (and still is) such a calm baby because of those couple months that we bonded together. She got such a good amount of sleep during the day which in turn made her a fantastic night sleeper….and in turn made me a happy Mumma! Zaeli felt comforated by sleeping to the beat of my heart and I loved being close enough to kiss her all day long! She would have the deepest sleeps and in turn I felt calm and in control. Now Zaeli is a great sleeper during the day/night in her own cot but if I am ever out and about I put her in the sling and she will fall asleep straight away. I have been out in loud bars at night and she will sleep peacefully in the sling, it truly is magic! It gives you so much freedom without having to compromise your babies sleeping routine. I literally never leave home without a sling. I have one stashed everywhere for in case of emergency. I love that I can leave the house with just my Chekoh sling (and some nappies/wipes squished in my handbag) and I can be out all day. I never use my pram when we are out and about. I much rather wear Zaeli so she is up with me exploring the world together.
…Sorry, as you can see I am very passionate about baby wearing and could talk about the postives all day long!
Do you have any hobbies/things you do in your downtime?
Anything ‘crafty’…I am always making new things for my house, Zaeli’s nursery, gifts for friends/family or simply a hand-made thank you card. I constantly have to use my hands in a creative way or I would go insane. It is my form of meditation. In a world run by technology, it is sad to see that the hand-skills of the craftsmen are slowly disappearing. The love and time that goes into making something by hand is really important to me. The ‘handmade’ has unique aesthetics that you just don’t get with a mass produced item. I love that when you hand-make an object for someone, it makes you stop and think about that person….why are you making it for them, what type of person are they, how will they enjoy the item? I cannot wait until Zae is old enough to do Arts & Crafts with me. I think it is so important to learn with your hands and use your imagination….not only as a child but as an adult too!
How would you describe your family?
Young, energetic, healthy, happy, calm, loving, easy going, open-minded, compassionate
How did becoming a mother change you?
Becoming a mother has changed me in every way possible, yet at the same time it is the most comfortable role I have been given in life. I know I have only been a Mumma for 8 months now but I honestly cannot remember my life without Zaeli. It is crazy how they grow so quick yet at the same time you feel like they have been part of your life forever! Being a Mumma is by far the greatest blessing in life. It is amazing how such a tiny little human can bring you so much joy and puts everything into perspective. Mike is always saying that since Zaeli was born I have been the happiest he has ever seen me…as soon as Zae was born I just thought ‘wow, this is what life is about!’. It is a feeling you just cannot describe….being a Mumma is raw, emotional and one hell of a rewarding journery!
What’s the best part about being a mother?
Hmmm….EVERYTHING!!!! I would probably have to say watching Zaeli grow and re-discovering the world through her eyes!
Zaeli comes everywhere with me, we go out each day and explore the world together. Zaeli gives me a new appreciation of the world; babies have a way of making you stop and appreciate the small things in life again. Life gets so busy these days, we often forget to stop and ‘smell the roses’. Before having my baby, other mothers would try and explain to me just how much I would love my child. I thought I understood what they meant but you truly cannot describe the instant unconditional love that you have for your baby. You cant imagine your love can grow anymore…then it does again and again-every day!
Naming your children is always so difficult (or maybe it was just me!) Was it easy to pick your child’s name and why did choose it?
My next door neighbour growing up was my childhood best friend. She lived with her sister, Mum and Nan. Her Nan’s name was Zaeli and she was the most beautiful soul. She was the ultimate gypsy Nan; always had all the grandchildren around her legs, cooking meals for everyone and had the most beautiful rose garden. Even as a child I knew that if I was ever to have a girl I would call her Zaeli. It also just happens to be that Zaeli is dervived from the flower Azalea. And my name means small flower. I have always had a love of flowers so it just felt like it was meant to be! I also love that Zaeli is an old fashion name like Dimity, it is not based on current trends or popularity.
Has your personal style changed since becoming mother? If so how?
I wouldn’t say that it has so much changed, but I am now able to wear clothes I feel comfortable every day. I work in a private school so therefore I need to wear approriate clothing 5 days of the week. During maternity leave I have been able to get back to the roots of my own style. My style has always been soft/boho; I wish I lived in the 70’s. I love mixing soft textures like white lace with hard elements such as leather. If you look in my wardrobe it is 90% white crochet/lace. Spell Designs is by far my favourite label, it encompasses everything that I am about and I love how their clothes make me feel!
Is there anything about motherhood that has surprised you?
To be 100% honest, I was surpised how natural the role of being a mother felt to me. It is amazing that as a woman we just have this natural connection with our baby. I think it all starts from when you are pregnant…there is an instant love once you see that first scan! Sometimes I just feel like this was my calling; I was just put on earth to be a Mumma bear! I was also surprised at how natural Mike was in his new role as a Papa bear too. I always new he was going to be an amazing father but he just surprises me every day at what an amazing Papa he is to Zaeli. I can already tell she will have him wrapped around her little finger! So many couples had warned me that having a child can really change the dynamics with your partner and can cause strain on the relationship. But I have honestly found that we have become closer since having Zaeli and our love for each other has multiplied! There is nothing like going through pregnancy/labour together and then watching your man fall in love with your new baby…it just makes you fall in love with him all over again! It is a love on a whole new level.
Favourite thing to do as a family?
Going for evening walks along the beach with Zaeli wrapped up in her sling to watch the sunset….this is my favourite way to end the day. Mike and I reconnect and talk about our days while Zaeli is wrapped snug in her baby sling; watching the waves crashing and seagulls flying. I also love this time of day at the beach when the sky is pink and the water is pearly blue.
What has been the most memorable moment for you in motherhood so far?
Every day there seems to be a memorable moment in the first year of your childs life, which I am sure continues for years to come. Zaeli is constantly amazing me with new milestones and tricks! But I would have to say one special moment that still stands out to me was the first time Zaeli ‘latched’ on. Moments after Zaeli was born Mike and I were left in the room with our precious little bundle of joy. Once the initial exhilaration and tears calmed down we both looked at each other and said “what do we do now?!”. There is so much focus on the birthing process but then all of a sudden you have a baby in your arms and you are instantly expected to know how to be a mother! Zaeli was laying skin to skin on my chest, then all of a sudden she sort of ‘army crawled’ up my chest and latched on for her first feed! I could not stop crying as I was just so amazed at how natural and beautiful breastfeeding was to her! How did she know thats where food came from; she had just spent 9 months inside my belly feeding from her umbilical cord and now she just instinctively knew to get food from my boob. From that moment on Zaeli was the best feeder and still is. I have always taken her cues as to when to feed and when to stop…she has really been the one that has taught me how it is done. I feel so blessed that breasfeeding has come so naturally to both Zaeli and I, as I know it is not always so easy for everyone. I have never really been around women that have openly breastfed, so during my pregnancy this was the one thing that I felt concerned that I would not be able to handle. Now I just love breastfeeding Zaeli and will continue to until she decides to stop.
What are some baby essentials every new mother needs?
- There are the obvious practical essentials: nappies, wipes, breast pads, disposable change mats, singlets, bonds wondersuits, socks.
- My personal must have item is a baby sling. My favourite Brand is ‘Chekoh’ as they are made of an organic soft cotton that you can roll up in to your bag….plus they are on trend colours/prints!
- Other essentials are:
- Large packet of the cheap old cloth nappies to use as spew towels
- Coconut oil…I use this for everything (cooking, baby massage, my skin). You dont need any baby body products in the begining; We just bathed Zaeli in Olive Oil and used Coconut Oil to massage into skin/bum.
- Bath: we used the Stokke collapsable bath
- Bassinet: we used a wicker Moses basket and now we use it for a toy basket!
- Nappy bag: It does not have to be a big ugly nappy bag. I just bought a satchel bag from ‘Athinaeum’, that doubles as my handbag
- Baby hat: always have a hat stashed in your nappy bag. Also good to have a nice big floppy hat for yourself to cover that oily unwashed hair!
- White Noise toy- newborns are use to all the noises they hear in your belly, I found that white noise is the best to help newborns sleep.
- Wraps/swaddles- I quickly learnt that there is no point buying cute newborn clothes as in the beginning they are always wrapped.
- Water bottle- Breast feeding makes you so thirsty, so you always need water on hand. I find the ones with a sippy straw are best as you can grab them with one hand.
- Comfy crop bras (elastic free)- I hate maternity bras, so I live in these at home.
What are some of your favourite shops/websites for baby wear?
- Instagram is dangerous….I am always coming across new cute baby labels.
I prefer to shop from small companies that hand-make their items locally/ethically. I am a strong supporter of Australian run businesses. I am also so grateful that my Mum kept a lot of my baby clothes, so Zaeli wears a lot of my old knits.
- My favourite brands include: Nacido, Hubble and Duke, Children of the tribe, Daisy & Moose, Blue Daisy wears, Love Henry Boutique, The Little Hippie, Heart Me Luv, Peggy Clothing, Mrs Millahs, Feather Drum, Fabrik Store, Bandikoot Byron Bay, Arnhem Kids, Fable Baby, Eco Devine, Sophie & The Lion
…I am also extremely excited that Spell Designs is about to launch their own kids label!
- It is no secret that I am a sucker for headwear on babies!
I love: Arch n Ollie, Fawn n Finch, Tulip & Olive, Top Knot Girl, Briar Handmade and Etsy
What is the one thing you want to teach your children?
Like every other Mum I want whats best for my baby. I always try to parent from peace, understanding and love…as thats what counts! My only hope is that I raise Zaeli to be comfortable in her own skin, whatever that may be. When you are truly happy in yourself, it shines through in everything you do!
Have any advice for newly mothers/mothers to be?
- To put it simply: Follow your heart and babies needs. Mumma instinct will never let you down!
I never read a single book, some may thing that makes me naive but I think it allowed me to go into motherhood with an open mind. I didnt have pre-conceived thoughts running through my head confusing me. I feel like I am very in sync with Zae, I have always just gone off her cues. They are smarter than you think….Zae know whats she needs and I have always followed her cues. If you let them led it is much easier and less complicated. I honestly believe babies vibe off their mums. Chilled mum = chilled bub. As a Mum you constantly feel like you have to justify yourself. There are so many pre-concieved ways that society thinks we must bring up our child. Mothers are constantly being judged. It all starts from pregnancy when you have to justify what you are eating, then its all about what birth plan you have…mothers are constantly judged/compared. My advice is to be confident in yourself; listen to others for advice but ultimately do what you feel is right for you and your bub. As time goes on your routine will change and adapt, its all about juggling whats best for your family at that time.
My other piece of advice would be to take lots of photos! I am so glad I documented my baby bump as it is such an amazing temporal time in your life. It is such a blessing watching your bump grow, knowing there is a little human growing inside you! I am also taking photos of Zaeli literally every day; they seriously grow up so quick, so I think it is so important to document every single moment. At the same time it is also important to put down your phone/camera and be in the moment!
>>>>>Oh and one more piece of advice… do your PELVIC FLOOR exercises!!!
- Instagram @_Dimity_
** Keep an eye out for little Zaeli’s boho vintage nursery feature – Here’s a little sneak peek…