We’re excited to announce that our very first Baby Luno Brand Ambassador is the inspirational Jessica Smith, and her beautiful baby girl, Ayla!
We first came across Jessica on Instagram where we became hooked on her honest insights on motherhood and we’re now loyal readers of her blog. Every mum’s story is unique, but Jessica’s perhaps more so than most - she was born with only one arm. There are times when every mum wishes she had more than two arms to juggle everything she needs to do with a baby, so imagine how much tougher motherhood becomes with just one arm! But Jessica has overcome many challenges in her lifetime - suffering serious burns as a child and anorexia in her teens - and now she is rocking motherhood too.
On top of being a devoted mother to her gorgeous eight month old daughter, Jessica is a motivational speaker, children’s book author and represented Australia for over seven years as a Paralympic swimmer. She also volunteers a lot of her time promoting positive body image and Mental Health awareness.
In 2015, she was a finalist for Young Australian of the Year, won a Pride of Australia Medal, released her first children’s book, got married and had a baby!
Jessica kindly agreed to chat with us about her experience of motherhood so far…
Tell us about you as a mother. What kind of mother are you?
A new mum! Which means I have no idea what I’m doing, I’m exhausted, I’m riddled with anxiety, but I am besotted, in-love and still can’t get over how lucky I am that this beautiful princess chose me to be her mum! My daughter Ayla (pronounced the same as ‘Isla') was born on September 15th 2015 – and since then, life has never been the same. Being a mother is a wonderful privilege, every day I am thankful for what my daughter teaches me.
It’s a tough gig some days, but by far the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of my life.
What are you biggest challenges as a mother? Both physically and mentally?
I was born missing my left arm, but I have never experienced anything more physically challenging than being a mother.
I was an elite swimmer, representing Australia for over 7 years. Physically there isn’t much that I cannot do. I do yoga, I drive a car, I do push-ups, I do basically everything that a person with two hands does… But when you are a mother and you need two hands so that you can carry your baby in one hand and use the other hand to do things… this is when life started to become a little more challenging for me. Thank goodness for the geniuses that invented baby carriers and slings – these are lifesavers!
As with most situations in my life, I just find a way to manage. Ayla and I have our own way of doing some things – but what I’ve learnt, you do what works for you!
My biggest challenge as a new mum, is one that ALL mums can relate to –
lack of sleep. Far out, the exhaustion is like nothing else. It is something that only mothers can understand. When my friends without kids complain how tired they are… I just smile.
Sleep deprivation is something that you cannot prepare yourself for. No amount of rest during pregnancy can make up for the lack of sleep that new mums experience. This has absolutely had an impact on my mental and emotional wellbeing. Ayla has never slept longer than 3.5 hours.
In those early weeks and months, some days I just cried. I had no idea how I could go another day without sleep. But, as mums, we just find a way of ploughing forward.
It really is a shame that this topic isn’t discussed more openly within society. I feel that mothers everywhere need more understanding when it comes to sleep deprivation.
I try to be as honest and transparent as I can when talking about this issue – because I am certain that the lack of sleep mums experience is directly linked to postnatal depression, and the only way to reduce the stigma that unfortunately still exists around PND – is to talk about it.
What is the main or best advice that you have received from your mother?
My mother had 4 children in under 5 years… when I was younger I never listened to a word she said – typical defiant teenager. Now I beg her for advice and guidance every day!
The best bit of advice she has given me is to throw out the baby books!
Thankfully I didn’t buy any… I just Googled everything instead – not sure what is worse!
There are far too many judgmental opinions out there for new mums – it is so overwhelming, new mums need to feel supported so that they can trust their own instinct when it comes to what works best for themselves and their baby.
How has becoming a mother changed you?
It has changed me in so many ways; mostly I believe it has made me calmer and a lot more patient & tolerant!
It has also allowed me to reassess what I find important in life. It has motivated me to work harder and lead by example, so that I can provide a safe and loving environment for my daughter to grow.
What advice do you have to other mums or mums-to-be?
In the early days I doubted myself so much. I questioned every decision I made, and because I didn’t follow my gut instinct I made some decisions that I wish I hadn’t. I let other people try to tell me how to be a mother. I realise now that no one can tell you how to mother your own child. If we just follow our own instinct and do whatever FEELS right – we can’t go wrong.
Society needs to focus less on giving opinionated advice to new mums, and more on supporting their decisions – whatever they may be.
The best thing I have learnt so far is to simply do what feels right to ME.
What made you want to be a brand ambassador for Baby Luno?
Baby Luno is the best online store ever!
I have spent so much wasted time searching for products for myself and Ayla. Searching so many different sites is a nightmare when you have limited time. And no mum has ‘spare time’!
Baby Luno makes life so much easier – I can buy everything in the one place.
Another fantastic thing about visiting the site is learning about new products, which I otherwise may never have come across.
The idea is simple and as a new mum, making life easier is top on my priority list.
Obviously, something like this had to be created by another mum – Louise is one clever lady!
We could not be more proud to have the wonderful Jessica as Baby Luno’s first Brand Ambassador. We absolutely LOVE this woman and you will too!
Check out Jessica's first children's book Little Miss Jessica Goes to School, which is a fantastic book that aims to break down stigmas associated with disability while discussing body image, self acceptance, friendship, social interaction, self esteem and stereotypes. It teaches children at a young age that it is GOOD to be different and addresses the issue of bullying in a simple way for young children.