Meet Alex, Jenny and baby Evelyn, they are the first family that we found from the For Our Community nominations. They have faced challenges before the pandemic and are trying to navigate parenthood in a new world. We are thrilled to be able to help contribute to their family journey by gifting them a new pram, relieving the financial pressure but also the physical pressure of using a second-hand pram that fell apart with Evelyn inside. Here is their story.
Tell us a little about yourself & your family?
In our family, there’s Alex (Dad), Jenny (Mum), Evelyn (3 weeks), Annabelle (cat) and Flynn (dog). We live in rural NSW (Gunnedah) and are teachers, actively involved in our local community. We love to travel and explore new places, to read, and create!
My wife Jenny and I live in a really small country town called Gunnedah, NSW. Gunnedah is six hours drive north West of Sydney, and it's an agricultural and mining community. Unfortunately, though, for the last few years, our town has been impacted by a terrible drought. The reason why we are here in this community is because we are both teachers who are looking to make a difference. We were living in Sydney but wanted to serve others in less reached and less resourced community contexts. Gunnedah has a lower socioeconomic status, and 20% of our town identifies as Indigenous. Jenny is a Kindergarten teacher and I'm a high school teacher. We both love children and being involved in our community! Evelyn Wharton (baby Evie) was born, 19th of March at 12.03pm at Gunnedah District Hospital by natural birth. The midwives called her a "coronial" baby being born amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. She is so beautiful and we are in love. Evie is our first baby, and we are so in love. She is a little fussy (we guess all babies are!). She loves to go outside.
Tell us about your parenting journey so far?
Our parenting journey has been a real rollercoaster, in a good way! It’s an adventure, lots of steep learning curves, warm hugs, hot cups of coffee and cooler mornings watching the sunrise. Due to COVID-19, our parenting journey has been primarily based at home in isolation. We love the privilege of being able to love and care for our little one, but it’s also so taxing in ways which we could not have prepared for. We continue to take each day as it comes, connect with family and friends via online technology, and read lots and lots of parenting guidelines and content to help us see what works for us.
What has becoming a parent taught you?
We have become more present in the moment. We learn to never take these early days for granted and to treasure the gift that is today. We have learnt that it’s not just about us, but about putting Evelyn’s needs (and each others as co-parents) before our own needs.
What’s your favourite thing about being a parent?
We love that by being parents, we are becoming better individuals. We are seeking to better ourselves, to be the best version of us. That means we're constantly growing in our character as we get to grow with our baby girl. It’s a special time and journey for all of us.
What was something you took away from your childhood that you want to replicate with your child?
Excursions! We did so much travel and making memories as a family, both near and far! The car journey itself was an adventure (singalongs, games, stories, activities). We would go with our cousins and other families and the anticipation and excitement leading up to the time away was just as much of the activity itself. We can’t wait to share with Evelyn some of our loved places, special to us, and places where she too will make her own magic memories.
What has been your latest parenting challenges? And how are you trying to overcome them?
So many challenges! We have been challenged physically and psychologically. We tried to be as prepared as possible but in reality, it all just depends on the baby and so our biggest investment with time and energy has been into Evelyn and getting to know her. To address this, we’ve sought to love each other in new found ways, for example Alex is doing more cooking and household responsibilities to help out which is greatly appreciated. Jenny has taken on more demands physically recovering so well from birth and so acknowledging that such events take their toll. As a married couple, we have also had to define our relationship together, as we were used to and comfortable operating as a unit of 2, to now adjusting to life as a new family unit of 3! We have overcome this by being gentle and clear in our communication with each other, fair in our expectations and speaking truth and triumph into the ways in which we can encourage each other. Starting out as new parents is scary enough, and so we need to be kind to ourselves and each other, especially as we start out. Finally, we feel so isolated. We’re already in a rural community, so we are familiar with isolation in some ways, but in the midst of COVID-19, our traditional, physical support networks are not available. We’ve had to be extra creative to connect with our supporters (friends, family) and in using technology to do this, virtual connections and support have become even more important to us.
Tell us how the donation has impacted your family?
Prams are symbols for adventure, opportunity. With COVID-19 dictating social distancing, a stay home and isolation movement, the donation of the JIVE Pram provides a vehicle of hope for us as a family. As we are a family of teachers (Jenny on leave) we previously acquired a second hand pram, however, we had a lot of trouble using it adequately, and on one time taking Evie for a walk, the capsule fell off the pram with our newborn inside and it was very distressing. Being a part of the Redsbaby community means that we have a beautifully designed, Australian owned and loved product, that feels like it's a part of our family too, we love it so much!