Tracy is the first Insta friend I made. She is warm and welcoming. And she runs a kick-ass business called Mums with Hustle. Mums with Hustle comes up with weekly podcasts that provides inspiration and very often, practical solutions to some of the issues Mumpreneurs or mums in business have. Tracy has always been on the other end of interviews so I'm very honoured to be one of the first few to be interviewing her.
Join me as we find out more about Tracy's brave journey. I hope you will be inspired by her story.
1. Tell us about yourself, where you are based and a little about your little one(s).
I'm Tracy, a positive mama and wife, based in Camden NSW. I’m a mother to Ethan - he’ll be two in March (can’t believe it). In October 2015 I launched my own business, Mums With Hustle, a platform which exists to champion and support mums taking their own leap and turning their passions into their pay cheques. I also work as a primary teacher, part time at the moment, since returning to work after maternity leave.
2. What is the most difficult/challenging thing you had to deal with in your mama-hood journey?
Only one thing?! Haha! I say that because being a mother is SO challenging everyday. At least, it is for me. I’m such a thought-out, organised, high achieving, people pleasing, doer of everything that the day I became a mother, my world was flipped upside down. It took a lot of re-thinking about the way I viewed my world, my idea of what success was, my ideas around what I could achieve. I had to do a massive mindset shift and that was something I wasn’t prepared for. Being an academic and a bit OCD (it’s a teacher thing), I found parenting to be too much trail and error, too much ‘winging it’. I didn’t read all those baby books before Ethan was born because I wanted to trust my instincts but that was more difficult than anything. I loved my precious bundle so much I was an anxious mess trying to make sure everything was still “perfect” but it wasn’t. I didn’t get one of those sleepy babies. I got the normal baby. My decision to exclusively breastfeed into the toddler years remains the biggest challenge for me to date.
"Being a mother is SO challenging everyday"
- Tracy Harris
#Brave Mama in My Family
3. What is the bravest thing you had to do as a mama?
Now, when I say I didn’t read all those baby books, I did read one and I loved it. It was recommended to me by a midwife and it’s called Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering by Dr Sarah Buckley. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to educate themselves on different birth options and breastfeeding. It is an academic read and personal at the same time, very factual and great for going into your birth and mothering with knowledge. This knowledge helped me to make my own decisions and own my birthing experience and my mothering choices.
I am a massive advocate of breastfeeding. NO, it’s not easy, even if it comes ’naturally'. It’s a very exhausting thing in the beginning (takes months to get over the exhaustion) but it’s so healing for Mum and bub. I’m still breastfeeding Ethan now. I think breastfeeding this far has had the most challenges for me.
From the onset, there were people who just didn’t get it. They were constantly asking, “How do you know he is getting enough?" or making statements like, “He’s not very chubby”, “Oh, he should be sleeping through the night by now”.
Then there was the public breastfeeding escapades, which I don’t mind, I just made myself do it where ever I was because I knew I had to get over that issue if I was going to feed into toddlerhood. It is a challenge though, I do remember feeding him at the hair salon one day when he was about 2 months old and literally spraying my liquid gold everywhere (picture a crazy fire hose out of control - that was my boob) after he got the letdown going and then pulled away! My sweet hairdresser is a mummy herself so we were both in stitches of laughter as she was throwing towels over me to contain the fire hydrant that was my boob! I also had to become a pro at sliding out breasted in public and remembering to pop them back in after a feed. I can’t tell you how many breast pads I have left in odd places. When Ethan was two weeks old we were at an event at the Botanic Gardens and I had just fed Ethan when a friend discreetly asked me if I had lost a breasted because she can see it had made its way to the group behind us and had taken position on their picnic blanket - yes, they all saw it. She was a good friend so she went and got it for me whilst I was swallowed into the ground with embarrassment.
Breastfeeding is tricky. Going back to work whilst still breastfeeding is tricky. Mastitis sucks. I make no apologies for having to leave work after a certain time to go and feed my baby and that’s that.
Exclusive breastfeeding means that I don’t go out at bed time or after bed time because, yes, I feed him to sleep and through the night when he wakes (yes, he still wakes). This didn’t come as a surprise to me because I knew what kind of breastfeeding mummy I wanted to be but I do think it surprises a lot of people when I say that I can’t travel out into the city for a night of clubbing or dinner when the travel time alone takes me over two hours. “Why don’t you just pump?” There’s a few reasons for that. I feel like I’ve answered this question a thousand times. In the beginning, ummm… “because my baby feeds every two hours and the pump doesn’t do it as well as he does, so I’m left engorged anyway"… and "I don’t want to spend time in a toilet pumping while you’re out taking shots"….. and "I don’t want to have to carry around my cooler bag (Mimco should really make a sexy one)”. Sure, as the months go on, baby can go longer without a feed and Ethan doesn’t feed that often now but my pumping days are gone because my body has slowed down to make just the right amount for him when he needs it, there nothing extra in between, so no, I can’t “just pump” in advance these days. It doesn’t work like that, for me.
Then there was the biting - seriously, I’m cringing right now thinking about it. About 10.5 months into our breastfeeding journey Ethan thought he’d give his choppers a go on my squishy nips and boy, did it KILL! The biting phase lasted about two weeks and a few times there, I actually cried, in the dark, too afraid to look down at what I thought may have been a dismembered nip. Plucking up the courage to look down at myself, I saw lots of blood but everything was intact! This was the time, the one and only time, I thought about stopping. Luckily I’m stubborn and knowing too much about the benefits of breastfeeding, I pledged to myself and to Ethan, to make it till his first birthday and then reassess. We clearly got over the biting phase and kept going.
Breastfeeding is still a challenge but mostly a joy. He still doesn’t sleep through the night but we’ve never had night waking with tears and the need to resettle. We co-sleep so feeding him is for comfort and it’s easy. I’m pretty much asleep as we feed, and he is sleeping too. It means that I am his comforter in the night and so no, he hasn’t had a sleep over at Nanny’s (yet) and I don’t mind. I know these days are passing by so fast. Everything is a phase. Our breastfeeding journey has been full of phases, high, lows, different struggles along the way, but they always end and when they do, it’s without a moment’s notice.
Out of this challenging journey, I have come to learn so much about myself, my body, my mindset, my expectations, my ability to surrender and trust in my body and in my baby. I have had to be brave to be the kind of mama I want to be in a world with so many opinions.
"I have had to be brave to be the kind of mama I want to be in a world with so many opinions. "
- Tracy Harris
#Brave Mama in My Family
4. Is there another brave mama who inspires you? How has she inspired you?
Absolutely! There are so many. One that I really look up to though is my hairdresser (the one who came to my aid with towels and no judgement). She’s a business owner and a Mum of three (including one set of twins). I love her positivity and work ethic. Massive shoutout to you Tara Bakik!
5. What would you say to another mama who may be going through similar circumstances?
For every argument, there’s always a counter argument so get that knowledge behind you, the 'fors and the againsts', then make up your own mind. Surround yourself with like-minded people and don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Lean on others for support - talk to mother’s who are also on the same journey and don’t be too proud to seek advice from the experts (clinic nurse, lactation specialists). I love the support provided by the volunteer counsellors through the Australian Breastfeeding Association. There’s no judgement and it’s great to call them and just vent and express all of your breastfeeding concerns and experiences with them. They’ve all been there and so the support is invaluable. You can find them on social media or call the hotline at 1800686268. The website is one to bookmark and is packed full of advice https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au
"Surround yourself with like-minded people and don’t listen to the nay-sayers."
- Tracy Harris
#Brave Mama in My Family
Everyday is an opportunity to go forth and be bold. Everyday has its own set of challenges - whether it's relating to breastfeeding, or bottle feeding, toddler tantrums, teenage tantrums and all that motherhood throws at us. Let's surround ourselves with people who inspire and uplift, cast away the doubts and fears and do this together, mamas!
You can find Tracy at: