Natalie's motherhood story - My little miracle
It took me a while to fully surrender into motherhood. I was studying to become a Yoga teacher when I first fell pregnant. Little Grace arrived 9 months later with her golden hair and big brown eyes. A few months after her arrival, I was back at school part-time. I would take my breast pump to CAE in Flinders Lane, look out to the city landscape and watch this liquid gold pour painfully slowly into the bottle. The things you do as a mother hey?
The thought of becoming a stay-at-home Mama scared the sh*t out of me to be honest. I was so used to my freedom, working in the corporate world and living by the sea. All of a sudden I was a new Mum, living with my in-law’s and husband-to-be and with no ocean in sight. So finishing my yoga training was super important to me, to keep a little bit of ‘me’ through this new transition into Mamahood.
Not long after I married my Italian love Mauro, we bought a home and I set up a local yoga business. My work:life balance was in check, YAY! Grace was enjoying a few days at the local day-care, whilst I was working and growing my business. Win-win.
Then, drumroll. I fell pregnant three years later. I kept teaching Yoga throughout my pregnancy and felt excited about the new life chapter. At the 20-week ultra sound, we were told our baby had a clubfoot, a common and treatable condition. We welcomed little Chiara into the world, it was confronting to see her foot in the wrong position but I was assured after treatment it would re-position and she would be able to walk on it no problem.
10 days after Chiara was born we were at The Royal Children’s Hospital commencing the clubfoot treatment. This involved so many hospital trips with my newborn and long unsettled nights with a heavy cast on her leg. I was unable to bath her properly she was becoming increasingly unsettled and upset around the clock.
Screaming baby + peak hour Melbourne traffic + long hospital waiting room times + very little sleep/rest + every.single.week = extremely stressed out Mum. Around this time, I was so overwhelmed with all the hospital appointments and sleepless nights, my family just thought I needed some rest. Yet intuitively I knew something wasn’t right, Chiara wasn’t breast feeding well and I felt like I was losing a grip on this whole ‘motherhood’ experience.
Chiara was 5 months old when we were booked in for the brain MRI at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Two days later, our life changed in an instant. Her MRI results were in and doctors revealed she had a severe brain injury. At this stage the cause was a possible stroke she had in utero. Stroke in utero? I didn’t even know that was possible. Chiara would not be able to walk, talk and would require many operations, interventions and need 24/7 care for the rest of her life. They spoke of a shorter life expectancy and many secondary concerns associated with her diagnosis. Microcephaly, Bilateral Perisylvian Polymicrogyria, Quadraplegic Cerebral Palsy and Global Developmental Delay. The odds were well and truly stacked up against her.
Within a flash, my entire Motherhood experience flipped on its head. I was in so much shock and it took me a long time to come to terms with Chiara’s diagnosis. It’s so bizarre because she looked like any other healthy baby, but things for her would soon unfold very differently.
Then next few months were a blur, EEG tests for seizures, early intervention programs, post-natal depression and also reviewing medical letters - that would leave me sobbing on the kitchen floor. Life catapulted us into a reality that was so fast-paced and all I could do was try to keep my head above water and love her fiercely, as I did Grace. A mother’s love can move mountains.
Once the shock wore off, we were on a mission to help Chiara reach her full potential. Our quest for healing and miracles sent us off on adventures, both locally and overseas to access the latest neurological therapies. Fast forward to today Chiara is almost 4 years old, doing well and defying the odd’s in her own unique way. This kid, she blows me away. With all her physical limitations, she still manages to pull of the most incredible smile. Not to mention her big sister Grace who has the most incredible connection with Chiara. Makes me the proudest mum in the world!
So motherhood sure has kept me busy. I had to close down the yoga business given all the care, therapies and hospital appointments we needed to attend. So recently I created a website ( Miracle Mama) offering soulful support for special needs Mama’s.
As a passionate advocate for health and wellness, special needs and self-care, I wanted to create something to help serve the special needs sistahood, who in turn helped me find my own footing in the post-diagnosis life. I wanted to create a community for other mama’s to share their experience - it can be a very isolating experience and even your closest friends may not understand what you are going through.
The stress of raising a medically fragile child isn’t going to go away. What is in our control is how we deal with that stress and we can do that far better when we’re honouring and valuing our own self-care practices.
I can stand tall in saying that my life has been blessed three times over. The first in a soul mate of my husband Mauro, the second with a beautiful spirited daughter Grace and the third with a courageous and angelic daughter Chiara.
It’s funny like that life – sometimes the most amazing blessings are found within your biggest challenges.
And for me, my greatest life blessings have been given to me during my motherhood journey.Motherhood in a nutshell: magical, mystical and lovingly miraculous.
Natalie says: Piscean: lover of nature, the ocean, sunsets, organic food, live music, family & friends. Love my greens i.e: mojito’s ;-)! Love to read, there’s always a good book by my bedside table.Inspired to travel with my family, love a good adventure! I used to ride a motor bike, sky-dive, rock-climb but now my kids give me all the adrenalin I need thank you very much, especially you Chiara if you happen to read this someday! I usually have essential oils simmering away in the house and something brewing on the stove top too.
Children: Two little lionesses
Motherhood in 5 words: Heart-expanding and deeply transformative!
Fav cafe: Second Home Café in Eltham.
Coffee order: Either extra hot soy latte or chai with honey.
Biz: Miracle Mama
Miracle Mama is global online sanctuary for Mums who have a child with a disability or life changing diagnosis. Specifically designed to help empower mothers to manage their unique life circumstances. To help them reconnect with what is most important to them and help them achieve optimum health and wellness through their extraordinary motherhood journey.
Professional photo credit: Emma Wise Photography
This is a place where you can connect with Melbourne mothers to share the good, the bad and the topics that we don't talk about but really need to.
Join the hood.
Share your motherhood story.
The information in this story is a unique and personal reflection of the writer's experience. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.