“I knew I would love her,” says Samantha Christian gazing at six month old baby Clara. “Just not quite how much. It’s really struck me how it flows through every ounce of my body.”
Businesswoman. Magazine editor. Blogger. Advertising executive. Community advocate. Entrepreneur. Sam is all of these things and more, but the recent arrival of her first child has shifted her approach to all of these roles. Motherhood has come at just the right time for this self-confessed workhorse, forcing the re-evaluation of some long held perceptions and kick-starting a new era in self-care.
Alongside her mum Gaye, Sam founded LOIS magazine back in 2015. A free community magazine born out of the need to foster real and authentic relationships, LOIS has drawn together a supportive and inspiring community of women right across Tasmania. “The focus was always to create community,” says Sam when asked about the driving force behind LOIS. “The response has been overwhelming. It’s become a powerful network passionate about empowering women.”
Sam is often asked about the magazines namesake. Her grandmother had a huge influence on her growing up and the decision to name the publication after her turned out to be an easy one. “We’d been throwing names around for a while,” Sam recalls. “I remember calling mum up and telling her that I finally had a name that felt right, but that I needed her permission to use it.” She smiles, “Mum said ‘I think I know what it is.’ She’d had the same thought. There was a lot of synchronicity in that moment, and a lot of emotion including plenty of tears from me. After that we worked really hard to create LOIS for mums…working women…the everyday woman really – Lois herself was the perfect embodiment of that.”
Sam describes her grandmother fondly, “Nanna raised five children and was always the type to just get in and get things done. Her own mother passed away when she was very young and she was raised by her grandparents because her dad travelled a lot – he was a jazz pianist. I don’t have too many clear memories as I was only six when she passed away, but I do remember her teaching me to read and I remember that she was always well groomed, she loved having her hair done and was very well put together.”
“Nanna was a very private person and I think that’s a little ironic, because the mag is just the opposite,” muses Sam. “But she lived in a different time, it was a different generation. I like to think LOIS is giving her the voice that she never had back then. I often wonder how her life may have been different if she’d had access to a better education, better reproductive health and if society had been more receptive to open communication. I think she also suffered from misdiagnosed post-natal depression.”
Ovarian cancer took Lois at just 55 years of age. “It doesn’t discriminate,” Sam states. “My advice is to see your doctor if you’re ever in any doubt. Keep talking and be open.”
Sam also believes in the power of conversation, “I wish we had more conversations between generations. Important storytelling can get lost when people stop sharing. I hope that through LOIS, people are encouraged to remain connected and to keep talking.” Revealing a little mother-daughter gem, Sam explains, “Mum and I often ask each other ‘WWLD?’ It’s short for ‘what would Lois do?’ It keeps us focussed on real women and what they want to hear about and learn about.”
LOIS was quick to resonate with the Tasmanian market, demanding Sam’s undivided attention. Not being one to shy away from a challenge however, this feisty go-getter also embraced the project management of her new home build at the same time. It was a busy couple of years. “Looking back, that was a really hard time. I think I took on too much and I wasn’t kind to myself,” says Sam. “Things really turned difficult for me when my uncle passed away, and then shortly after that we also lost a close family friend.”
Finding out she was pregnant was a double blessing for Sam. “I’d wanted a child for a long time, I had just been waiting for Scott to catch up,” she grins. “But I’d been suffering from a mild depression and anxiety disorder when I found out I was having Clara. The pregnancy actually came along at just the right time for me. I really believe it turned me around.”
Never having been one to let her guard down, and never having stepped outside without a smile plastered on her face, Sam recalls vividly, “Being pregnant changed my mindset. All of a sudden it wasn’t about LOIS anymore, it wasn’t about the house anymore, it wasn’t about our losses anymore, it wasn’t even about me anymore – it was all about this baby.”
Sam pinpoints her pregnancy as a turning point on her perspective. “Maybe it was partly hormonal, but I just felt so much more balanced. I focussed on being fit and healthy and it really helped put life into perspective.”
Baby Clara babbles just as much as her mother, sharing her social nature and demanding to be part of the conversation. It’s not hard to see why Sam has reassessed her priorities. Six months into motherhood Sam says life has definitely changed, but in more ways than just the obvious. “No one tells you how hard it will be…oh my god, it’s hard,” she reveals. “I had this idea I could easily run a magazine while the baby slept all day! It’s not like that at all, it’s so much harder in reality…really hard.”
With this young family of three trying to find the right work/life balance to suit their needs, Sam says she’s also working on her own perceptions about herself. “Right now I’m trying really hard to work on body positivity. I loved my body when I was pregnant but I’m struggling at the moment. I’m consciously working on my mindset.” Sam thinks for a moment before pinpointing how she feels, “I think I resent my body in a way because it let me down when I needed it the most. I felt like it failed me because I had to have an emergency C-section. When it came to the crunch, I couldn’t give birth how I wanted to, and that was really hard.”
Sam is measured and open as she analyses her thoughts, “Things were compounded when I couldn’t breastfeed,” she says. “I tried for four weeks and it did nothing except trigger my anxiety. Another 11 weeks of expressing didn’t do much for me either.” Sam is looking to the future to inspire a change within herself, “I really believe in the importance of being body positive, especially as I now have a little girl. I want her to see that it’s ok to celebrate what you love about your body, and I don’t want to negatively influence her own body image.”
The juggle of work and family is real for this open and honest young woman. “Someone once told me that life is a case of selective neglect, and I truly believe that,” says Sam. “I hate this concept that women can have it all, you can’t…at least, not all at the same time. We need to be honest and be real about everything that life throws at us.”
A new blog is next on the list for this ball of energy. “It’s called ‘Mumma runs a magazine’ and it’s a blog for me. It’s helping draw a bit of a boundary between myself and LOIS – some people even call me Lois and forget my name is Sam,” she half laughs. “I love what I’ve created with the mag, but I also want to show people the real me and step outside of LOIS.”
The blog plans are simple. “I love to write, it’s cathartic. I do my best work after two glasses of wine, and edit after none,” giggles Sam. “I’m going to share the real things, the hard slog. I think I can help others by sharing what I’m going through…the real stuff.”
Someone recently told Sam that she made ‘having it all’ look easy. “When they said that I knew that I’d failed,” she murmurs. “I don’t want to contribute to that. It’s not easy – it’s sleepless nights, it’s crying, it’s a constant struggle and it’s always doubting if you’re getting it right. All mums feel like that.” They’re refreshing words in a world that bombards us with perfect images.
“I’m going to start sharing more of myself, the good and the bad, and keep building community.”
Sounds good to us Sam.