River MacPherson was born on 29 Sept, 2016 and has since followed Plunket’s newest fundraising campaign ‘Raise a Bundle’ (RAB). Onto day 552 of Raise a Bundle's life she has had quite the amazing and transforming start! Plunket had a chat with her mother, Jana, about River's life in the first 500 days.
Below you will read about River's first few challenging weeks, Jana's amazing support system from her Plunket nurse and some great advice from Jana about raising a bundle!
Plunket: How have the first 500 days been for River’s life?
Jana: River’s first 500 days were very up and down. At 7 days old River was diagnosed with hip dysplasia, everything was going very well, including her birth – but on day 7 we went for a hip check and were very shocked to have been diagnosed. We had to have River in a hip harness – 24 hours a day for 4 months. We couldn’t bathe her, and we had a lot of trouble with various things – from putting her in a car seat or pram, to simply dressing her.
Although it was a really hard start, River coped really well with it all, which kept us positive. She slept relatively well (which didn’t last long unfortunately ha!), she was a very easy-going and happy baby.
She had also suffered a lot with colic which we struggled with, and made it hard for River to settle. I tried a lot of different things to help her – but it was cutting out dairy which almost immediately made her better!
River bounced back really well from her hip dysplasia which kept us really positive.
Plunket: What has been one of the biggest struggles for you during the first 500 days of River’s life? And how did you overcome this?
Jana: Hip dysplasia has definitely been the biggest struggle with River, but it made me realise how lucky we are to have the support we have in New Zealand, if you know it’s there. I found a really awesome Facebook page which helped me A LOT while we had River in her hip harness - @HarnessHeroesNZ. This page and the people on it, helped me through this a lot. I struggled with what clothes to dress River in, and other simple things which I found great help and support with through this page.
I also got really exhausted when River was really young, and my oldest was only 18 months so there wasn’t a big age gap! Neither of my babies slept particularly well. Throughout this time I was struggling, I learned to try and be kind to myself and learnt to listen to my body. It’s so important for parents to continue to look after themselves as well – cut yourself some slack, you can live without a super tidy house, and freezer food can be just as good and nutritious as a home cooked meal!
Plunket: What has been the biggest value of having a Plunket nurse?
Jana: I live in Arrowtown and we have an awesome Plunket nurse down here, I have been seeing her for nearly 3 years. The Plunket clinic is located just down the road so it is easy for me to visit my nurse. I struggled a lot with my first child during breastfeeding and I was very determined – I got on super well with my Plunket nurse. She was not pushy in opinions, but really open to trying as hard as possible – which I felt I aligned really well with. She was always available to help me, or have a chat – one time I texted her after hours and she was at my house first thing in the morning to help and support me. She offered support every time I needed it – whenever I felt low, or had questions I was always felt supported by her.
I take my children to the Plunket playgroup here in Arrowtown every week, and I sometimes bump into my nurse. She is always interested, paying attention to what is going on with my family and I
I feel as though, through my Plunket nurse, Plunket has become a part of my family. There is a genuine community connection, feel and support in Arrowtown which I value a lot.
Plunket: I understand you have an Instagram for your family and what you do on a day-to-day basis. (@the_macpherson_diaries) Can you tell me a little bit about why this is important to you?
Jana: We live in a small town where I sometimes feel quite isolated from my side of the family and the rest of the World! I mainly run this Instagram as it makes me feel connected to the rest of the social World and it connects me with ‘real life’. Recently my son was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and being able to talk about that to all different kinds of people made it feel not as strange or different. It normalizes things for me. I think, social media can make people feel level and solidarity – being able to connect to a stranger is a really beautiful thing.
We live in an amazing part of the World and I love to be able to share that with people too! I love to cook, be social and have a lot of other passions – so to be able to share these made me feel great. It all fell together nicely.
So for me, The Macpherson Diaries channel is about normalizing things which go on in everyday life within families and children. I don’t try to be perfect, but I love to realistically share my life with others.
Plunket: How has the support from Plunket positively enhanced your child’s life and/or baby experience?
Jana: I would have to say resources. I get a lot of external resources from my Plunket nurse, she can always point me to the right person for support or help. For example, I took River for her normal check-up and asked about her eyes, as she has a bit of a lazy eye. My Plunket nurse referred me to someone who specializes in this – and I would never have known this specialist existed until she referred me.
She always manages to connect us to other great people. She’s awesome and fits me, and my style of parenting really well.