I first stumbled across Rachel after seeing her pop up on Australian Birth Stories. I was so intrigued to read that she had unexpectedly conceived her gorgeous son Lenny whilst she was living in Bali. She came back to Australia when she was 12 weeks pregnant for some space and opportunity to think about how and where she would birth her baby. Rachel and her baby’s father ended their relationship when she was 39 weeks pregnant and she has gone on to rock this Mum gig solo.
Rachel shares about how reaching out to another solo Mum whilst she was pregnant and hearing her say something positive about her motherhood experience was a game changer for her. I hope that this article can foster a similar sense of relief and the possibility of there being joy again for any Mummies reading this who already are a single parent or are in a relationship that no longer brings them happiness.
How old is your little man and what is something you adore about him?
I always like to ask what is one thing about being a Mum that drives you bonkers?
You came back to Australia when you were 12 weeks pregnant. Was this to take 5 and catch your breath?
It ended up being the best decision I could have made for myself, years ago I was diagnosed with a bowel disease called Ulcerative Colitis, I have managed to keep it really well under control for the last few years unmedicated however pregnancy flared everything up pretty badly and so I felt pretty sick. For my health and mental health I am grateful that I was in the comforts of my home environment and our health care. I think physical distance and space was also really important for me to connect with my own thoughts and get really clear on that without the external noise around me.
You decided to stay in Australia to birth your baby. Are you planning on returning to Bali?
To the Mum/Mum to be who is newly pregnant and unhappy with her situation however is petrified of doing it alone, what advice would you give her?
I think it would be completely unnatural to not feel petrified of doing it own your own and there are so many reasons for this; fearing it’s going to be too hard/ impossible, conscious of other people’s thoughts and feeling judged, feeling like you have failed because you don’t have a ‘whole’ family, feeling like you have already failed your child, financially worried you will struggle forever, thinking you will never meet anyone again, still caring and loving your partner etc etc etc I could go on forever.
I remember the first time I reached out to a single mum who I met in Bali, I had heard so much negative feedback regarding the possibility of becoming a single mum and it was hard not to feel scared and the only safe option would be to stay. The general narrative around making this choice was really to try just ‘sticking it out’ and hoping for the best- but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something didn’t feel right. When I spoke to her she said that while she did not want to sugar coat it, it had moments where it was really hard she spoke most about how beautiful it was to be a mum, how magical her relationship was with her daughter, that we would figure things out whatever that looked like. It was the first time I breathed a little lighter and the first time I felt like I could get excited about becoming a mum and doing it alone.
I think women know in their gut when something doesn’t feel right, for me I felt it. I kept trying to push it away because I hated the idea and did not want to accept ‘single-mum’ as my reality. Then I started to think about what kind of life I could imagine in the future, did I want to live an ‘ok’ life or did I want to choose a thriving one? Did I really believe that choosing to be a single mum was signing off on all possibilities of happiness? Did I really believe that I was destined for a life with zero money to my name always? Did I really believe that I couldn’t still live a fun and adventurous life? Did I believe that meeting another man and one day having a family was impossible? No, not at all.
I also thought about what kind of mother I wanted to be and what world I wanted for my child. While I wished so much to be in a family and I felt sad he wouldn’t experience that togetherness, I realised to me the most important thing that I wanted for my child was for him to grow up with a happy mum and happy environment, a mum that could show him that no matter your circumstances we always have the choice to choose the kind of life we want- even if it’s hard and messy and sometimes chaotic it is still our own. I want Lenny to always choose himself first, even if that goes against what society says or what his friends say and especially even what I say.
I am not flushed with cash right now, I have no idea how I am going to navigate the dating world again, I don’t know exactly what the future holds- but that’s ok!! I trust in the process and I do really believe that I can still have it all. Lenny and I have so much fun together, we go on adventures and for now I am enjoying this time so much- I don’t doubt that there are challenges ahead but that’s life.
I don’t really have any advice but I hope if it is something that you feel then I hope you can lean into those fears, ask yourself those real questions, give yourself the time and space to get clear on what you really feel and what you want for your life.
It does make me feel sad to think that there might be women who are frozen in fear choosing to stay in unhappy or even dangerous relationships in fear of doing it alone, I hope that I can be the voice that my friend once was with me and that said ‘ it might be hard but my god it’s beautiful too’.
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What has it been like not only transitioning into a role of a first time Mum but doing it on your own?
To be honest I don’t know motherhood any different- so to me, doing it on my own is just my normal.
For me personally it was also a huge transition into motherhood as pre- pregnancy I was living a VERY free and spontaneous life in Bali. Suring everyday, eating out for every meal, napping when I wanted etc etc- so my transition from maiden to motherhood was extreme. So much of motherhood for me has been trusting the process and surrendering into what is. It has been a hard but beautiful time letting go of my expectations and old self and leaning into each moment, going with the flow. I want to share my story as a single mum because when I was pregnant it felt like there was always this big elephant in the room, people almost pitied me, felt sad for me and that was really hard- people only spoke about how hard motherhood was but they forgot to mention how beautiful it is too.
What do you think is the biggest misconception society makes about single Mum’s?
I think the general misconception is that you are going to be miserable alone and everything is going to be hard.
I often find that when people ask me how I am, they are a little bit taken back when they hear how much I have been loving motherhood and my experience as a solo mum.