Aaliyah radiates a warmth and friendliness people gravitate towards. After meeting her just once, you'll feel like you've made a forever friend. Underneath her warmth is a woman who has navigated the challenges of first time motherhood, diagnosed with post partum depression and anxiety, she candidly shares her journey and hopes for little Leo.
We’re so privileged to share the story of our friend Aaliyah, and what motherhood means to her.
Tell us about yourself, and some of the pivotal moments that have shaped the woman you are today…
My name is Aaliyah Armstrong, I am a creative that likes to dip my toes in a lot of different things. I guess you could say I was never really bored growing up. I was always playing sports, dancing or singing. I did hit a bit of a slump during my high school years (as most of us do) but I kept going. Fast forward a few years and I gave birth to my sweet boy, Leo in 2020. Having my son was such a pivotal moment in my life. It was a hard time, and I thought I was alone. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety and more recently PTSD. The hardships that I have faced and continue to face, keep showing me how resilient I am. I really didn't know how strong I was until I had my son. And I am proud to be the woman I am today.
Thank you for sharing your struggles with postpartum depression and anxiety so openly. How did you get the help and support you needed?
I was pretty open with my Plunket nurse, who was super supportive and she told me to see my GP. And once I saw my GP, he referred me to maternal mental health. I always made sure that I could be open with my family and friends, so they knew what was going on for me. I've also kept a journal for my postpartum journey, which helped with processing feelings, venting and would also be such an empowering experience to look back on once I've worked through it. I also would hope that one day my children would read it, and know that if they ever experience mental health, that their mama has been there and will always be there.
If you could go back in time, what would you say to yourself now?
Breathe. I was so stressed about so many things. By taking each day as it comes, that is all I have true control over. So take each day as it comes and practice gratitude.
How can those supporting someone in early postpartum months help?
I think being an ear, or shoulder to cry on. When you visit your friends, do the dishes or hang washing out or something simple around the house. Little things go a long way. Also chocolate...!
What does motherhood mean to you?
Motherhood to me, means to be selfless and to love unconditionally. It's definitely not easy but I like to take it each day as it comes. Motherhood is bit of a roller coaster, but a beautiful one.
Tell us about your son Leo; What is he like, the things you cherish about him, the things that test you, and what he’s taught you…
I'm a bit biased, but Leo is pretty darn cute. He is adventurous, and loves to explore. I love watching him grow. He's recently learned that he loves to kiss his mama, and I am soaking it all in because one day he will probably be too embarrassed to do that.
He has also taught me patience.... A LOT of patience. I'm not the greatest at it. But it's something I am working on everyday. My little boy is at an age where he is discovering that he can climb onto everything, as well as realising that he has emotions. So I try my best to let him explore physically as well as emotionally without sheltering him too much. It's hard to figure out the balance in it all. But all in all, he is a happy little dude and I feel so blessed that Leo was sent to me.
What values do you hope to instil in Leo?
I hope to instil kindness above all. He will be growing up in a world that is pretty intense. But kindness goes a long way. I also hope that he will learn how to be courageous so that he can stand up for what he believes in.
He’s still very young, do you see traits of your own showing up in him?
Definitely! He is so cheeky like me. But very hands on like his Dad. He loves books but I have no idea where he got that from, haha.
It takes a village to raise a baby, who have you got in your corner?
My best friend of 14 years had a baby boy 6 months before Leo was born. So we have gone through motherhood together, she is definitely in my corner.
Definitely my family, my in-laws and of course my husband. We have quite big families so our 'village' is quite large.
Balancing the needs of your little one with your own can be a seriously tricky thing to do. Do you have any coping strategies you live by?
I've really had to learn how to ask for help. And I guess one of my coping strategies is having some time to myself. That way, I get to recharge and be at my best for my son.
What advice do you have to share with someone about to embark on their own journey into motherhood?
Always do what's best for you. Don't compare your journey to anyone else's and take each day as it comes.
We both love Saben handbags, tell us about when your bag obsession started?
When I was young, I was called "the bag lady" - I always had a bag, and I always made it very obvious that I had a bag. My parents called me this from like the age of five and I still get called that even now. So, picking a bag is a very serious decision for me ha-ha.
I’ve got my eye on the Coco handbagin black currently. I LOVE this bag. I love the style, the size and the overall classy look of the bag.
Aaliyah wears the Beatrice in Navy, the perfect bag for hauling the essentials with room for Leo’s things too.
Spoil them with Saben this Mother's Day - Shop the Mother's Day edit