Wild surfer wives Jessie and Millie are two eco-conscious mamas living completely off the grid in a picturesque Australian coastal town with their newborn, Tide.
After a three year journey to motherhood involving fostering, miscarriage and IVF, they’ve embraced a mindful, purposeful life centered around living slowly and sustainably with their beautiful young family.
Along the way they’ve shared their raw and emotional experiences with their followers, while using their inspiring voices to advocate for positive change and empower their audience to become the best versions of themselves.
Thank you so much, being authentic and transparent is something we pride ourselves on so that's great to hear that comes across on our feed.
Our journey to becoming mamas was a bit of a long one… we started fostering although of course the nature of fostering is always to help the children get back home, so although we learnt a lot about parenting, it was never a means to a family. When our foster daughter was finally reunited with her birth mother at the age of 16 we decided to try IVF.
Our initial fertility checks found an 8cm dermoid ovarian cyst that I had removed. They then found endometriosis that took two surgeries to remove. We tried to conceive at home first via donor insemination, and ended up getting pregnant, but lost the baby. After several more failed attempts we decided to move forward with fertility treatment and from that point the process was actually pretty straight forward for us. We went with a fertility clinic specifically designed for LGBTI+ couples called Rainbow Fertility, who were amazing. Our entire fertility journey took over three years, but the IVF process from first conversation to conception was less than 6 months!
You’re part of the LGBTQIA+ community and we know the road to having a family can be hard for so many in it. What’s the experience like for two mothers like yourselves today wanting to become a family? What were the challenges you faced, and did you have any support?
There is a lot of personal turmoil that goes into coming out, and part of that was the realisation that the road to motherhood would be far from easy. No-one chooses their sexuality. We did not choose to be not able to fall pregnant without fertility treatments and donor sperm. The biggest thing that most people don’t understand is that there is often a period of grieving associated with realising that having children will be a difficult path. Most people have a good understanding of the sadness that comes with having to resort to IVF for couples with fertility issues. What people often don’t appreciate is that not being able to conceive “naturally”, regardless of the circumstances, comes with feelings of loss and grief. Yet, so often LGBT people are omitted from this narrative - our struggles to conceive are left on the sidelines.
I genuinely used to believe that coming out as queer meant resigning myself to a life without children. That might seem shocking, but, growing up, there was simply no representation of LGBT families with children in the media. People are also quick to forget that it was only 2017 when every state in Australia legally allowed access to IVF for same-sex couples and single lesbians as well as adoption for LGBT people.
There is of course also the financial burden, as well as big decisions such as which donor to use and the stigma and misunderstanding that comes with that too. Doctors, Midwifes, Ultrasound technicians have all used the word “father” instead of donor multiple times.
It sounds like you had a lot of ups and downs along your path to motherhood. How was your birth, and what did finally having little Tide in your arms feel like?
I absolutely loved giving birth, everything about it, even though it was by society's standards quite traumatic and I had a lot of intervention. I think there is a lot of pressure for women to have a “natural” birth and although I am a big believer that our bodies are designed to birth, I also believe that medical intervention and drugs are an absolutely valid choice as long as you're informed and educated. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia so I received a call basically to tell me to come into the hospital to be induced and I hadn’t even packed my hospital bag yet. I was induced and labour progressed quickly with my waters breaking 3 hours later, I progressed to 8cm with no drugs and then opted for an epidural and proceeded to have a blissful 2 hour nap, loved it 10/10 would recommend.
By the time I woke up the midwives kept losing Tides base heart rate and my blood pressure was rising due to preeclampsia. I remember the midwife telling Jessi to press a button and there being about 20 people in the room, I was given some drugs, an episiotomy and Tide was out with three pushes and some forceps. I lost 1.5 litres of blood so by the time they put him on my chest after removing the cord that was wrapped around his neck, I was feeling really unwell. The first thing I ever said to my baby was “I’m going to be sick get him off me” - not quite what i imagined. Once they got Tide breathing steadily I was able to have a proper cuddle and he latched straight away and it was absolute bliss, I said to Jessi then that I was already ready to do it again.
One thing we truly admire about you both is how you live and breathe your intention of practising a fully eco-conscious, ethical life. Tell us a bit about where and how you live day-to-day, and how bringing a baby into your world has worked with your lifestyle.
Living a life that’s as sustainable as possible has always been something we have prioritised. We knew we wanted to create a life for our family that was focused around being mindful, living slowly and with purpose, and didn’t feel that we could do that in a city so we opted to move off grid.
Living off grid is much more high maintenance than living in a regular house so there is always work to do and things to balance. It definitely comes with its challenges and is much more work, from making sure you have dry wood for the wood burner in winter, to making sure that you don’t leave power points on, especially on a rainy day. Our power comes from solar panels, water from rain tanks, our waste water (including bath water, grey water, and sewage) is processed by our worm farm and we compost. The worm farm has the most incredible output of nitrogen-rich run-off that is completely sterile. We use it to grow more veggies!
Throwing a baby into the mix makes things a bit harder to find the time to tend to the veggies and also there is a bigger responsibility to make sure the house is warm when its cold and cool when it's not so that means conserving power as much as possible
What motivates you to live off the grid with your family? And what’s something you think we all need to think of when it comes to our planet?
We really value time in nature and have dreams of our children growing up in a simple and uncomplicated way. We really believe the fate of the planet lies in the next generation and we want to make sure our children learn to love the world we live in.
In terms of what we all need to think about, my advice to everyone is that it doesn't take a handful of people to be perfectly sustainable, it takes millions of people doing it imperfectly. Global warming and plastic pollution are huge issues that sometimes seem so big and overwhelming that people think they can’t make a difference. Unfortunately, I think that narrative is often perpetuated within the sustainability / off grid community where it tends to be that you have to commit to it all and anything less is not good enough. Instead of motivating people this can have an adverse effect and make living eco friendly seem out of reach for most people. We tend to believe that by introducing small changes and doing them consistently it leads to bigger outcomes overall. For example if you love cheese you don’t have to be vegan but just eat less meat. You don’t have to get solar panels but be conscious of your power usage. You don’t have to go plastic free but make a conscious decision every single day to use less. If you find it hard to make changes in your personal life because you are time poor and don’t have the resources, then vote for political parties that will promote positive environmental changes.
What’s been your favourite part of your motherhood journey?
Honestly all of it, the mothering part has come so easily to us and has been nothing but enjoyable. It's so nice now that Tide is 5 months old because they are really starting to get their own little personality. There are definitely some outside elements that have been much harder, I have struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety which has been rough.
You live by the mantra of ‘why not go every day?’, can you tell us what this means to you + what makes you two mamas feel good?
A while ago we watched a documentary called “My Octopus Teacher”. The gist of the story is he decided to snorkel every day and visit this octopus he discovered. It really resonated with us because we are obsessed with the ocean, hence why we named our baby Tide. We made a commitment to try and spend time in the ocean every day… have we managed to do it, no not quite. A newborn and el nina have made it a little more difficult, but we try to go as often as we possibly can. Nothing makes our mental health feel better than spending time in and around the water.
Can you share some of your best eco-baby tips for mamas who also want to look out for our beloved Mama Earth?
Our belief as I mentioned is to do as much as you can without feeling so much pressure you give up. In an ideal world we would use exclusively cloth nappies, but currently our washing machine has broken which makes that a bit harder. I breastfeed exclusively as it's free and makes no waste, but of I am lucky that my breastfeeding journey has been an easy one and I know it's not achievable for everyone, a fed baby is best. If you are able to breast feed then using reusable breast pads is a great option.
We will be weaning Tide soon and hoping to include some fresh produce from our garden that we will freeze in small portions to save on wastage.
A huge percentage of our clothes are second hand and we plan to gift them on once we use them for the next baby. We don’t believe in clothes being gendered and Tide has plenty of pink clothes that have been passed on to us.
Our Becoming Mama journal is a sacred place to capture your motherhood journey, what is your favourite thing about our journal?
It has such a luxurious feel to it and the graphic design and artwork is just beautiful. I love the real life stories as well as the thoughtful prompts which question you to think more deeply. There is plenty of space to write your own thoughts and feelings too plus the journal is a great size to fit in your handbag.
Finally, what’s one thing you’d like to say to all the mamas out there that you wish someone had told you?
Listen to your instincts always. There is no wrong way to be a mother as long as your baby is safe, happy and loved. There is no wrong way to be a mother as long as you feel supported, heard and empowered. Don’t be afraid to ask for help but equally don’t be afraid to say no.