Georgia Perry makes things that trace people back to joy: a checkers umbrella, a wall chart of flowers, an enamel hair barrette that reads ‘paradise.’ On Instagram she shares new drawings and encouraging words in uninhibited colour palettes. I went into our conversation wanting to know the cause of her optimism, as if it were some kind of affliction. And how she managed to see such spectacular colour in the shadows of our modern world.
Georgia’s mum was a florist. Right up until she passed away in 2009. She loved helping people celebrate their lives, and cheering them up when they were sick, even when she was sick herself. Georgia is the same way. She discovered she was pregnant with Daisy the day before Melbourne’s first lockdown, and an exceptionally lonely induction into parenthood followed. Yet she continued to make things to delight, like her illustrated card deck ‘Rise & Shine,’ a build-your-own-morning-ritual of yoga poses, meditation and words to ponder.
When I asked her about her seemingly relentless optimism, she said she didn’t want to be known as ‘the sunshine and unicorns girl.’ She’s surprisingly dry. But I think she hit the nail on the head. Georgia Perry is warming the world and reminding us that there is magic in it. She sees colour in the shadows, because she paints them any way she likes.
How have you navigated new parenthood? How lonely has it been on a scale of 0-6,000?
I found out I was pregnant the day before the very first lockdown in Melbourne, so I was truly entering uncharted waters. I barely saw any of my friends or family throughout my whole pregnancy, and we didn’t have any of the corny, but life-affirming rituals like babymoons / baby showers that I’d always imagined. I was so happy to be pregnant, but the world felt (still feels) insane and overwhelming at times, so it was a tricky time to navigate emotionally.
To cope, I just did a lot of meditation and reading and watching TV throughout my pregnancy. Then, given it was so hard for me to get pregnant, and also the fact the world had been turned upside down in 2020, I chose to have a planned c-section. I’m not going to lie – it was amazing. I have fairly traumatic associations with hospital and medical stuff after losing both of my parents so young, so anything that gave me a sense of calm and control – I embraced. It was the best choice for me, and the day of Daisy’s birth was truly the most amazing day of our lives.
Can you speak to your experience getting pregnant and how that all went down?
We tried for years to get pregnant before I found out I had stage 4 endometriosis. I had no idea how common it was and, unbelievably, the only way to have it formally diagnosed is via surgery. We were told you can often get pregnant naturally / easily after the surgery, but it wasn’t the case for me. About a year after the endo surgery we started down the IVF path.
What is it like choosing pregnancy so consciously?
With IVF everything is so… deliberate? There are so many points where you have to consciously keep saying, “OK yep! We’re gonna do this! We’re doing this! This is the right thing to do! Let’s keep going!” Rather than, say, just falling pregnant naturally and it just being done. There is certainly nothing spontaneous or romantic about IVF. Having to take so many active steps toward getting pregnant (hormone injections > a million blood tests> egg retrieval > embryo transfer, etc) gives you so many opportunities to overthink and psyche yourself out. Especially given everything going on. My partner Dave and I had so many late nights awake asking ourselves, does the world really need another kid right now?
We were super lucky all in all, as we only did one cycle of IVF and got two viable embryos. The first one failed, which was unexpectedly devastating / a low point, but thankfully the second one stuck.
How did you find those early days of pandemic parenting?
Unfortunately after we left the hospital I really struggled with postnatal depression and anxiety. Still being in various states of lockdown / restrictions, not having my own mum or much support around, etc. It was kind of a lot. I think I also just severely underestimated the level of hormonal fallout that can come after the birth of a baby. Just. So. Much. Uncontrollable. Weeping. Dave and my sister, Brighid were incredible though. And I sought out the help of my GP and a psychologist super early, which was life-saving. And eventually the dark fog did dissipate.
I hear you. I’m so glad you got the help you needed. Parenting is hard enough without state-sanctioned lockdowns.
Pandemic / village-less mothering is pretty insane. There are lots of ups and downs. We still don’t have all of our usual coping mechanisms available, and there is a lot of family that Daisy hasn’t met, but we’re doing ok.
One of the hardest adjustments since having a baby for me has been fully accepting that your time is no longer your own. You go from doing whatever you like on a whim to this little creature being completely reliant on you 24/7. It’s such a complex feeling.
How have you found the transition back to work?
I had three months off work after Daisy was born, but (for better or worse) my wellbeing is so closely tied to my work and having a creative outlet. I had to get back to it as soon as I could. This has only been possible thanks to my incredible partner Dave, as he’s taking some time off work and does the lion’s share of the baby-raising during business hours.
I really like the idea of Daisy seeing her mum working and doing something that she truly loves. I’m hoping long term that I can strike a good balance between feeling fulfilled with work and balancing family stuff. I think it’s a continual work in progress.
Where is the most unexpected place you’ve found support?
Instagram! I’ve been sharing a bit more personal stuff and it’s been such an unexpected source of comfort and encouragement. To realise there are other new mums in the same position as me, doing this without family around, in and out of lockdown, etc. It’s honestly been so uplifting.
What sparked ‘Rise And Shine’ for you? What other daily rituals do you have?
I LIVE for routines and rituals, which definitely helps when you have a baby. I was approached by Hardie Grant to create Rise & Shine at the beginning of 2020 – little did we know how important daily rituals and “self-care” would become.
While the world is still in this state of flux, I find the tiniest things can help delineate and give meaning to the day. For me, it’s things like putting music on and lighting incense every morning, stopping for a proper lunch every day and then turning on calming lights and lighting a candle at 5pm. Small actions like that keep me grounded in the moment.