This is the wisdom Hamilton mother-of-three Alexis shares with other Mums when she tells them about Bellyful. She’s used to curveballs – when her first baby, Kadi-belle, was born in 2012, Alexis was a newlywed living in a remote area of Northland, with little support available to her and her newborn daughter. Less than a year later, the family relocated to Waikato, where Alexis says the people are friendlier.
Following the arrival of her son James in 2014, Alexis embarked on a successful career as a Tupperware consultant, a job she could fit around her new baby and family life. Shortly after achieving Manager status with Tupperware, another curveball – Alexis discovered she was pregnant with baby number three.
“It took a little time to get used to the idea my family would grow, and how I would find my work/family balance,” she says. “Having a new baby was exciting and scary. I was already so busy, how could I fit another little life into my life and heart?”
On her due date, Alexis discovered her two older children had contracted chicken pox. Maddison was born the next morning, setting in motion a curveball unlike any Alexis had yet experienced.
Baby Maddison was perfect. Alexis was safe, comfortable and well. “But finally it was the Infectious Disease Control team that told me I couldn’t go home for 10 days,” Alexis recalls. “I was a mess. I already couldn’t see my older two due to them being infectious, but not being able to take my baby home was heartbreaking.”
A fellow Playcentre Mum offered Alexis and Maddison a sleepout to stay in while they were quarantined from the rest of the family. She would watch the baby while Alexis made brief visits home to see her husband and other children.
Alexis explains Dad did a spectacular job caring for two sick children under four, but the emotional toll on the family was heavy. She says her referral to Bellyful Hamilton, which she heard about from a friend, was a huge relief.
“We talked about the struggle to prepare dinner as a temporarily single parent, who’s not used to doing it alone.”
“The first time Bellyful dropped us in some meals I was mind-blown. I left four meals at home for my family while taking two for myself to share with the family that had given me so much help. It made me feel less helpless being able to repay my host family with one dinner, while knowing my family at home was well fed.”
Bellyful Hamilton’s support of Alexis and her family continued with additional meal deliveries after Mum and Baby returned home. Alexis says it was the icing on the cake.
“My heart swelled with gratitude, as I had no idea there was more to come. As much as I loved being home, my older children’s sleeping habits weren’t the best and I was exhausted.”
Alexis also found Bellyful doesn’t simply provide meals, but empathy as well. The volunteers who deliver Bellyful meals are always prepared to lend a listening ear and some adult conversation, with no judgement or advice attached. Alexis enjoyed a brief chat with the volunteer who delivered meals to her.Almost a year down the track, Alexis emphasises the kindness of Bellyful Hamilton’s service when she tells other Playcentre Mums about what Bellyful offers.
“Bellyful gave me peace of mind knowing my family had meals while I was away. Those extra meals really help us new Mums in so many ways. As a new Mummy three times over, having the support of meals already cooked and ready to go this time was amazing. I really wish I had known [about Bellyful] when I had my son. They’re lifesavers!”
Having become a bit of an expert in curveballs, Alexis is certain about the role Bellyful plays in supporting families experiencing the chaos a new baby can bring.
“Kindness from strangers is always going to give your heart a tingle,” she says. “It’s our family, friends, and help from our community that helps get us through these tough patches.”
Words by Rohani Alexander.
Photography by Kelly Stone.