In the days after the birth of her second child, Heather Cooper was feeling overwhelmed by the anticipation of her first, a baby who would have to be nursed and fed.
The 24-year-old, from Ballymun, Co Tyrone, was desperate for a new baby and found herself living the most stressful year of her life.
“It was a really stressful time for me, because I’d just got the news that I’d been pregnant again,” she said.
“I was a bit over the moon with my baby and the fact that we were doing well, but the feeling of the whole thing, the rush, the pressure, the stress, it was really hard to digest.”
So what does a photo diary have to do with babies?
Heather Cooper found a photo of her son’s first birthday, in August 2010, as a baby and decided to record it.
The postcard, titled “Couple’s first anniversary”, features a smiling Heather and her husband.
“There’s something special about the moment when you have the first birthday and you’ve got that moment where you realise it’s just your first, it’s yours,” she explained.
“You don’t want it to be any different from a birthday cake or a cake for your mum or your dad.”
The postcards are a reminder of her child’s first year of life, when Heather and husband Sean met at a local pub.
“The last thing I wanted to do was have to put my son through school, but I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that he was special, and he was very special,” she added.
“We were all very proud of him.
We were all incredibly excited about the prospect of him coming home.”
Heather was shocked when she realised she was pregnant again.
“To me it was like, ‘Oh, wow.
This is something I’ve been planning for a very long time,'” she said of the postcards.
“When I realised I was pregnant, it felt really amazing.
The thought of my baby being born again, it just seemed like the best thing in the world.”
A photo of the couple’s wedding day, featuring a baby.
Heather’s son was born two years after their first child, in December 2011.
“He had the best birthday party, the best time with his mum, and I was just blown away by all of the support,” she remembered.
“If I had any questions, I’d be on my way to the pub.”
Her daughter, Olivia, was born three years later.
“A year and a half later, I still remember him walking into my flat.
I was thinking, ‘How is he doing?’
He was like the happiest, most energetic, best person I’ve ever met,” Heather said.
Olivia, now 16, was raised by her grandparents in Co Clare.
“That’s where I was raised,” she recalled.
“Our family is quite traditional, but we have our own little little bit of flair, and it’s great to be a part of that.”
Olivia’s birthday was the third of the year, and Heather’s eldest son, Noah, was due in March 2018.
“Noah was a special boy.
He’s the best child I’ve had in a long time, I think,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.
“His mum was incredibly supportive and so was his dad.
He was a very happy child.”
‘There’s no shame in being pregnant’ The post-baby period was particularly difficult for Heather.
“This was my worst period,” she admitted.
“But I’m still grateful for the support and the encouragement from the people that I’ve met through the whole experience.
It’s very liberating to be pregnant, and there’s no guilt.
There’s no fear of not being able to be the best mum or dad that you can be.
Heather’s baby is now in his father’s arms. “
In my head, I was so worried about what was going to happen, but at the end of the night I’m happy, I’m proud and I’m a mother.”
Heather’s baby is now in his father’s arms.
“They’ve both been so amazing to have come through this journey, and the love and support from everyone, from the birth to now,” she concluded.