Instagram can be deceiving – particularly when you have more than 60,000 followers scouring through your inspirational images, wanting to vicariously live your life.
But Iyia Liu has been harbouring a secret – life is not all it seems on her social media feed. Behind the perfectly curated photos is a woman trying to do it all and feeling like she is failing.
The entrepreneur and star of reality TV series BossBabes has always been a juggler, so she expected to embrace motherhood for a second time with ease. However, she cannot remember being this shattered. Ever.
"I feel like the second time around has been so much harder," she tells Woman's Day in an exclusive interview. "I know that it's just a phase, but I feel like it is overwhelming some days too."
Millie Brooke Delmont was born in April, a sister for Summer, now two-and-a-half.
"I don't know if it's because I'm a few years older, but I definitely find it more physically exhausting," the 30-year-old muses. "It's mentally harder as well – like when they're both screaming at me at the same time. Having two isn't twice as much work – it's almost like three times as much!"
Iyia is mindful to be open and honest about the toll of parenting, wanting people to know it's not as glamorous as social media can make it seem.
"Some days, I'm like, 'She's so easy'. And then other days – oh, my gosh – it's so hard. The main issue is that their nap times don't align. But generally, Millie's actually very easy. She sleeps really well at night. She's quite relaxed."
Iyia was able to work on her business Tidal Hair when Summer was a baby, but with Millie, she has hired a manager to run the business and was grateful for not having to worry about working during the fourth trimester.
"I feel like I've had to give up a lot more work-wise. I'm happy I'm on leave and not trying to work as well because I just don't think I could do it. This is the first time I've had a break in eight or nine years. When you are your own boss, you are always switched on.
"But I know I get to see all the new things Millie does – that's amazing."
Now Iyia and partner Jordan Delmont are packing up their rental on Auckland's North Shore in preparation for moving to their newly built home on a lifestyle block in Coatesville.
Curled up on the couch, preparing for an early night, Iyia beams talking about how much Summer loves her little sister.
"Summer's a bit rough. She doesn't mean to be – she just wants to cuddle her, squishing her in a loving way."
It took a while for Summer to get used to not being the centre of attention in her parents' world and they laugh looking back at the distinctly unimpressed expression Summer had when meeting Millie on a FaceTime video call from the hospital.
Having had an emergency C-section with Summer, Iyia had booked a Caesarean delivery – even though she admits she found it traumatic to be conscious during the operation.
However, Millie spared her mother a similar birth and was born naturally, two days earlier, weighing 3.5kg.
"I was only in labour at the hospital for about six hours and definitely enjoyed the experience a lot more," shares Iyia. "It was obviously a lot more painful, but towards the end, I stopped the pain relief because I was wanted to get her out and I wanted to feel all the contractions.
"I remember Jordan promised me sushi and sashimi, and I really wanted it, so I was keen to push as soon as I could!"
When the family moves, the young sisters will share a bedroom. It was a dream for Iyia and Jordan to build a home that would be a long-term home for the family as Iyia moved at least 10 times growing up.
"We're actually going to put them in the same room," she tells. "I shared a room with my sister for a little while and I really enjoyed it. I was maybe six or seven – I am two and a half years older.
"We showed Summer her room at the weekend and she has never had carpet, so she was really excited. I originally went with a very white carpet, and then I spent weeks freaking out and got them to change it."
A hands-on dad, Jordan shares the nappy duties and night feeds, and together they plan healthy meals, trying to have evening meals together.
"Jordan also works quite long hours, but he comes home and helps do the bath. He makes dinner and always helps with nappies. We are pretty equal in terms of sharing the workload.
"We're trying to have reasonably healthy meals – day to day, our life is pretty organised. I have still been trying to go to the gym as much as I can and eat reasonably well, just making sure I have some routine.
"It's definitely hard, but I know the girls won't be little for long, so I want to be the best I can for them. I love waking up and knowing I am their mum."
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