June 13, 2014

heart to heart: emma steendam

In this space we are all about ‘letting go of the mother you think you are supposed to be and embracing the one you already are” – but what if you’re not quite a mother yet, in the most obvious sense? The child you hold in your body hasn’t yet reached your arms…though he or she is already is filling your heart. 
Six years ago this was me, the only proof of my impending motherhood were two blue lines on a stick, a queasy feeling in my stomach and a head full of blissful ideals. The excitement, the unknown and oh, the anticipation! 

Today ‘s Heart to Heart is something different. A fresh perspective from my good friend Emma Steendam, a mother-in-waiting, quite literally! Her first child is due any day but she kindly took the time to chat about her mama instincts, ridiculous expectations and the all consuming daydreams of that moment: meeting baby for the first time.

Emma Steedam
mother, photographer  |  emmasteendamphotography.com  |  shesowsseeds.com  |  @emmasteendam

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Louise Buma: Hey! Did you get my spotify playlist? Also...whatcha up to today? Feel like a 30 min FB chat? Aka a Wholehearted Heart to Heart?

Emma Steendam: Sure - can do today, when suits you?

Louise Buma: In half an hour? Or most anytime really!

Emma Steendam: Ok sounds good, 10.30?

Louise Buma: Sorry! Just saw your message - in true mama makes plans fashion Cedar decided to wake up and head butt the side of the cot. Babies! Ready when you are!

Emma Steendam: Ha! I mean...that's terrible. I’m ready when you are...

Louise Buma: Ok, let's do this! I've made a cup of tea, I have baby boy in the high chair beside me and a large bowl of yoghurt to keep him happy...it's now or never!

I made tea too! No baby boy...well possibly 

Ohhh maybe! How about we start with the introductions - tell us a bit about you...

Well, I'm Emma, I'm a photographer by trade, blogger/crafter/farmers wife are the other hats I wear on any given day! I'm married to my highschool sweetheart, we've been together forever, married 2 1/2 years and expecting our first child in 3 weeks (eeeeep!) We live in a little farmhouse in the green Gippsland hills on my family's sheep and potato farm.

Parenthood is imminent my friend! That makes it sound kind of scary - but you know what I mean. That beautiful moment is so close you can almost touch it. What are you most looking forward to?

I'm actually really looking forward to the birth, which is a good thing I'm thinking...I might change my mind about that at the time! That first moment I 'meet' our child is occupying a fair bit of brain space at the moment - it's so hard to fathom, it's not just the nine months of pregnancy, my whole life has been leading me to becoming a mother I feel. I'm also really looking forward to seeing my husband become a father, that was an overwhelming factor in my absolute need to have a baby - not only a baby, I needed to have Matt's baby. That was a pretty incredible and strong instinct.

Oh Em, I'm starting to get teary already! I love the way you say it's been a lifetime leading up to this pivotal moment...it's so true. Do you feel like this baby has been a long time coming?

Yes and no...I've always wanted to be a mother, I was that little girl with the dolls playing mothers and fathers and house in the cubby etc. I was always really orientated that way, and became an aunty at 15 so have always had babies around with my nieces. But then I also wanted to do lots of things before parenthood - university, working, traveling, living in different places, getting married, then it just seemed like the right time. I'm a big believer in everything happening for a reason.

Absolutely. It seems like a lot of things are really falling into place.  And there's almost nothing better than seeing the love of your life becoming a father. How is Matt feeling about it all?

He's pretty excited I think, he is a total baby stalker at the best of times let alone for our own child! He's pretty baby mad, always picking up our friends and family's babies/toddlers/children before acknowledging the parents! I think it blows his (and my) mind that we will love someone so very much, as much as we do each other. That's hard to wrap your brain around until it happens I think!

He is going to be amazing - you both are! Becoming parents together really does incredible things to a relationship. Love for this child will bind you together in the most inexplicable way. Life will never be the same! In the best way...and in difficult ways too. Is there anything that you are worried about?

Trying not to be 'worried' but hopeful that we have some awesome super-human amazing sleeper and feeder! Totally realistic. I'm hoping to get off on a good start to breast feeding, that's preoccupying my mind a bit at the moment, but at the same time trying not to overthink. Not so much worried, but I don't think I've wrapped my head around the fact that this is my baby...I'm the one that can fix it! That's kind of a big deal.

You are its person! WHOA.

Mind. Blown. 

It's so hard not to overthink these things especially when you're counting down the days... What are you doing for the next few weeks?

I've officially finished work, although I was still getting requests for shoots I just am getting too uncomfortable and tired and sore! So, I'm putting the finishing touches on the nursery, lots of little handmade things I still want to make, as well as still creating things for my handmade business Little Miss Emma. Oh and trying to fill my freezer with meals!

So just resting up then? Haha! Do you really need to be cooking all those meals? It looks like you've got quite a wonderful village of friends and family to sort you out!

So true. We just moved back home to Gippsland from South Australia, my mum is literally around the corner, as is my brother and sister-in-law, and Matt's parents are fantastic and close by also. We're very lucky. Being back home now a lot of our school friends are nearby too, some with little babes of their own, our village is growing!

So amazing! This little one is going to born into a very loving, very big family! Was this the reason for moving home? You and Matt have travelled all over the place since you were married...

Er, yes (understatement!) After our wedding we packed up our life, quit our jobs, sold our car and re-homed our dogs and hit the road indefinitely. We worked on a cattle station in outback Queensland for six months and then traveled around Australia (and Papua New Guinea) living out of our ute and camper. Homeless, unemployed but blissfully happy newlywed gypsies. But the heartstrings always pull us back Home - to where we grew up, fell in love, where our families are, close to Melbourne, friends, community. We always wanted to be back here but were biding our time for the right opportunity to arise, we didn't want to rush things like we had previously. Then somewhat unexpectedly Matt was offered a job which meant a great opportunity for him, for us, and it happened to be in Gippsland! We were all set to have our baby in South Australia, where we knew nobody and were a good ten hour drive from any family, and then within a few weeks we were back home! Like I said, everything happens for a reason. Timing, all about timing.

It's the most wonderful thing - MEANT TO BE. Your family must've been thrilled to hear the news you were coming home! The prodigal newlyweds. Before we finish up (because goodness knows I could chat all day m'dear!) has there been any "mothering" advice given or any parenting example set that has resounded with you?

I think mostly what's resonated is that people have told me to not listen to too much advice! Don't overthink, go with your gut, trust your instinct, relax, don't sweat the small stuff and don't try and people-please.

Brilliant. You're a wise, wise mama already. Finally, I think it's been so great chatting about all the 'what's to comes' - I'd really love to do a part 2 maybe this time next year when your little one (boy? girl!?) is on the brink of ONE. What do you think?

Sure! Sounds great, goodness, imagine my mind space then compared to now! 

It's going to be so cool. and chances are you could have a grumpy teething nearly-one year old gobbling yoghurt beside you just like I do now!

...one can only hope? lol

...er, I mean, a cherubic angel playing quietly at your feet?! Hehe.

Of course, didn't you get the memo about the awesome-super-human-brilliant-sleeper-feeder child that I'm growing? Sheesh.

Oops! Of course!...and in the spirit of hypothesizing in to the future - what's your gut telling you today: baby boy or baby girl? If you're right we can praise your mama instincts in a years time...if you're wrong we can laugh about it!

I've been all about boy boy boy all along, totally going to be a boy...then I realised I should probably wrap my brain around the fact that it could be a girl and not to be totally shocked! So this week I've been all about the baby being a girl...just to y'know, prepare myself. So really my mama instinct is shot to pieces at this point!

Ha! Well, just so I can pass on some cute boy clothes, I shall say BOY. You?

Boy still winning out at this point. Just.

Get ready to have a girl! HA! Either is ace - but I think you knew that already. Thanks so much for the chat Em, you're a treasure. And I can't wait to meet this beloved little one and watch your lives change with daily heart explosions.

Images:  Louise Buma


  1. All sorts of lovely Emma and Lou. It was like I was sitting across the table from both of you. Xx

  2. I loved this. Thanks so much for your beautiful and honest responses, Em! Lovely pics and stellar questions dear Lou xoxoxo