Age at interview: 35
Background: Josie is a research coordinator at a university. She lives in a large city. Josie is married and has a 12-week old baby.
Josie and her husband conceived their baby through IVF. Josie felt her 'positive' labour and birth was a good start to parenthood. However having a baby has brought several 'surprises', including pressure on her marriage, and difficulty with breastfeeding. Josie lacks family support and at difficult times finds it comforting to remember many other parents are 'going through the same experiences'.
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More about Josie
Josie migrated to Australia from Europe when she was 23 after meeting her Australian husband in her home country. They married six months after moving to Australia together.
Josie and her husband always wanted to have children but found it difficult to decide when to start a family. They were initially unable to conceive and underwent fertility testing before conceiving following their first round of IVF.
Josie and her husband chose not to disclose their experience of IVF pregnancy. This meant they had limited emotional support from family and friends, and instead Josie accessed online IVF support forums. She felt isolated, and found pregnancy uncomfortable and different to her expectations. On reflection, however, Josie felt guilty that she was 'self-absorbed' and thinking about herself rather than her baby during her pregnancy.
Josie feels that the care and encouragement she received during her labour now serve as a source of strength for her. She described labour as a 'really empowering' experience, and she felt an 'avalanche' of love for her daughter when she was born. Josie said hiring a doula was the best decision she and her husband made. She also appreciated the guided meditation she received from her midwife and was happy that she established a 'connection' with her obstetrician, as he had offered limited emotional support during her pregnancy.
Josie's baby was hypoglycaemic when she was born, and for this reason was given formula. Josie felt that bottle-feeding was stigmatised, and had to 'make peace' with the fact that she wouldn't be able to exclusively breastfeed. Josie also had her placenta cleaned, dehydrated and made into capsules. After taking these she felt 'pleased' with the results and felt that it helped her avoid postnatal depression.
Josie feels the key challenge of motherhood so far has been the pressure on her relationship with her husband. Initially they cared for their baby together 'as a team', but since her husband returned to work there is no longer as much 'balance' in the relationship. They don't get time to interact and she feels that he sometimes doesn't realise she needs his 'emotional support'. Josie described feeling at times she had a 'dual personality of a loving mother and a resentful wife'.
Josie acknowledged the 'emotional intensity' that comes with motherhood, and that the mother's needs become secondary to the baby's. She receives limited support from her husband's elderly mother, but misses her own family, who live overseas. Josie recognises this lack of family support as a challenge, though appreciates the help she has received from friends. She feels isolated living on the outskirts of the city, but appreciates that she is bringing her daughter up amongst nature.
Josie says the 'bigger picture' of motherhood - other parents going through the same experiences at the same time - is a source of comfort for her. She advises others to maintain a sense of humour, and she also thinks it is important that women regain their 'old' identity after having a child.