STARTING a family can be an adventure with many twists, turns and surprises.
And the idea of a 'picture perfect' family can be a daunting image for mothers.
Four Wagga women have shared their pregnancy journeys with The Daily Advertiser, as well as the pressures and concerns they struggle with each day, to show all mothers that no family looks the same - and that's OK.
The Sheppard family
Corinne and Mark Sheppard are first-time parents to a little boy named Nate, who is 11-months old.
There was no waiting for the married Estella couple, who wanted to start a family soon after their wedding about two years ago.
"He was definitely planned, we started trying and got Nate about four months later," Mrs Sheppard said.
In the moment the newlyweds considered it "a frustrating process", only to realise their incredible luck to fall pregnant so quickly.
Other than the usual nausea and tiredness, the pregnancy was smooth sailing and Nate arrived via a scheduled C-section.
The Sheppard's started navigating the brand new world of parenting - one that came with many struggles and pressures on their relationship.
"Nothing can prepare you for the change in dynamic, where the mother becomes the CEO all of a sudden and the husband is bossed around," Mrs Sheppard said.
"It takes a toll on your marriage and when we became parents we had to find out who each other are again."
The biggest challenge for the first-time mother was learning to give up control.
"I felt like I was the only one who knew how to care for him, what to do and how he liked things. I needed to let Mark find his feet rather than doing it my way," she said.
The pressure came from within rather than outside.Corinne Sheppard
Like many other parents, she had a "perfect picture" of how life would be after Nate arrived. However, the reality was there were many struggles.
"The pressure came from within rather than outside. I thought I would be breastfeeding, juggling work with home-life really easily and marriage would still be perfect," she said.
Before Nate was born, she had worked in events, which meant late nights and weekend work.
She ended up switching to an office job when he was five-months old.
"He went to day care from six months and that worked out because we have a great day care down the road and it's all within arm's length for us," she said.
"It was unexpected, but that was just a sacrifice we had to make - your career comes second to your kids."
The Kendall family
Tiffanie and Jason Kendall have a daughter Elodie who is two-years-old.
In the months leading up to labour, the first-time mother looked into hypnobirthing, a technique that helped her have positive experience.
"It's not about swinging a clock or getting people to cluck like a chicken, but to get into a deeply relaxed and highly aware state. It strengthened my mind, body connection and gave me the tools to stay calm and reduce the intensity," she said.
Mrs Kendall said the "power and autonomy" has been taken away from mothers for sometime, but new trends are helping women stay informed about their delivery. Her experience encouraged her to start teaching expecting mothers about hypnobirthing.
"I never want to set someone up to fail, with expectation of a perfect birth because we all have a different set of circumstances present," she said.
"While we can't control the outcome, or exactly plan what our birth looks like, doing preparation of the mind can increase a positive, empowered experience."
The Wylie family
Shelley and Adam Wylie, of Turvey Park, had their hearts set on a big family of six before they had children.
After having Alistair, who is two-years-old, and Morgan, who is five months, the couple have pulled it back to three. But, they do struggle with the decision of when to stop.
"There is a big chunk of me saying stop - you have two children and can provide them with the best love, care, attention and financial and logistical resources. But, there is that impulse deep inside that says I am not done and that is different for each person," Mrs Wylie said.
A big part of her hesitation has come from climate change and the impact it will have on the world. An easy lifestyle for her and her husband might not be the reality for their children.
"If there was a war, resources become finite, but what if that's the standard? What if they grow up and birthday cakes are a lavish privilege," she said.
"There are many times where I think, will I have to explain to my child what a polar bear is because once upon a time bears on ice was normal."
Mrs Wylie, who is a high school teacher, said motherhood has come with many pressures to find a balance between work and family.
And along the way she has realised "having it all" was unattainable and being the best mum she could be was the most important.
"You're told it's the aim - work full-time or don't but either way you should be thriving, having homemade meals and a clean house, but to have so many hours of sleep each night and not to coddle your child too much, but coddle them enough," she said.
"The reality is it is absolutely not achievable - and that's OK."
The reality is (balance) is absolutely not achievable - and that's OKShelley Wylie
Most women face the pressure to look a certain way and becoming a mother only increased that insecurity for Mrs Wylie.
"I always thought I was body positive before I had kids - do things my way and screw the world, but that input from society and own guilt and shame only increases," she said.
"On the other hand, your experience and the tools for dealing with those pressures increases with it."
The Pattison family
Ashley and David Pattison started their family while they were still living in Sydney. The married couple have two daughters named Matilda, who is six-years-old, and Dorothy, who is three.
The cost of city living saw the family relocate to Wagga about 18-months ago in search of a more affordable lifestyle.
"When we decided to have children, we had to sell our house and move to a different area of Sydney because we couldn't afford the mortgage repayments on a single income," Mrs Pattison said.
Mrs Pattison said their Sydney home had a decent size garden for her daughters, so when they relocated they wanted to buy a house of similar size - if not bigger.
The parents, who are physiotherapists, now live in Springvale with a large garden, a swimming pool and property with views of grazing sheep from the neighbour's farm. And despite the idyllic setting, she still worries about the world they will grow up in.
"It's scary to think about the cost of purchasing property, the difficulty of employment and the cost of schooling," she said.
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