self care ♥ self love

“I choose to show up for my highest possible potential”

How do we show up every single day, especially at times when we feel completely exhausted?

As I write this, I am k.o’d with the flu. Naturally my body has decided to take a stance and I have taken all the right steps to help get back on track. Visit to the Naturopath, bottles of liquid herbs, herbal tea’s, mindful moments, yoga, pausing, breathing, and resting as much as I can in between looking after my girls, therapy for Chiara and all the rest.

It all comes down to self care – self love. THIS is one of the most powerful things any mother can do, especially a special needs Mama! It is the number one, numero uno, paramount thing to do. Yes, I repeat, number one. Self care. Self love.

Unfortunately a lot of Mum’s associate some sort of guilt when doing something for themselves, a sense that they should be putting everyone else first.  The role of the Mother is one that is often judged, whether a mum decides to go back to work too soon, or too late, breast feeds, or gives the bottle, puts their child in childcare, or not, the list goes on and on.

Mama’s, do your thing, and don’t waste precious moments questioning otherwise.  Take time for YOU! You are no good to others if you cannot look after yourself. If mum goes down, a touch of chaos soon follows. The mother is like the glue; she keeps the flow of the house moving along.  She is the mother ship after all 😉 And in my recent role of becoming a mother to a ‘special needs’ child, I have learnt very quickly that in order to cope, in order to get up every day, roll my sleeves up and get on with it, I need time to replenish. Being a Yoga Teacher and Student has definitely helped, oh the joy of Savasana or Yoga Nidra. Nourishing.

Although, I’ve learnt the hard way a few times, after the birth of Chiara, my stomach muscles had separated. I had already undergone surgery for an umbilical repair a year prior. So not long after the birth, it was suggested by the medico’s that I attend weekly physiotherapy and pilates sessions. I think I managed two sessions, before the influx of Chiara’s medical appointments took over and financial concerns started to kick in.

Due to fact that I never followed up regular and consistent care, my hernia repair has now completely relapsed. Soon, I will undergo another operation to repair the hernia again, which requires a 6-week recovery period with months of physio to follow. How on earth will I find the time? I’ve got a child to heal? Crazy though, I was so worried about the money for the phsyio sessions, when in fact it’s going to cost me a whole lot more now. Prevention is better than a cure! Let that be a lesson!

And to add to the mix, I have a 2-year-old daughter who cannot move, sit, or stand. So I need to carry her a lot more than any other mother would of a child the same age, and due to the hernia I’m not supposed to lift anything more than a few kilo’s as it further complicates potential damage and causes me a lot of pain. Mauro does heaps of the holding and lifting for Chiara, but naturally there are many times I have to, need to and want to. Alas, it’s taking its toll on my back. So yes, I learnt the hard way.

Mama’s please take care.

I also learnt a few other things the hard way too. After I received Chiara’s blunt diagnosis, I was left with an extremely unsettled and seemingly ‘broken’ baby. Chiara simply did not sleep for months and months, she would scream most nights through and I needed a medical degree to understand the rare brain conditions she had.  I recall a visit to The Unsettled Babies Clinic at RCH. I filled out a 2-page questionnaire, and then sat down with the doctor, towards the end of the session, she said that based on my answers to the questionnaire, I had ‘Post Natal Depression’, no shit I thought to myself, I have not slept more than 2 hours straight for months on end and any chance of resting throughout the day have been impossible due to the amount of specialist appointments I needed to attend. Let alone the constant worry for my baby girl and her future.

I felt depleted, exhausted, cheated, angry and fucking furious at the cards I had been dealt. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the coolest of cucumbers to be around in those early months after Chiara’s diagnosis, but I was hurting, I was hurting so much that I felt my heart was going to break into pieces. I was hurting because I could not understand why a beautiful innocent child like Chiara should suffer so much. Let alone be born with a body that wouldn’t work, with words that she could never talk and a shorter life span pinned to her name.

We had to watch her scream through plaster casts, car-rides, an operation, EEG tests, eye tests, ear tests, blood tests the list goes on and on. Our family life was mostly spent in hospitals. Why Chiara? Why me? Why us? My child was falling apart before my eyes and I felt hopeless. I wanted to fix her, heal her and make it all go away for her.

Self care. Self love.

I had forgotten these golden tool’s, only for a short time, but it was enough to see the effects of a Mother who does not take time for herself.  So I soon took the reigns, and re-connected to what matters most, good old-fashioned self-care – self love.

I rested in between hospital visits, instead of cleaning the house first; I listened to my favourite teachers on the ipad, Meditations and Music when Chiara slept. I took baths, I got out my tarot cards, I cooked nutritious meals, I walked in Nature, and I slowed down. I reignited my Yoga & Pranyama practice, connected to Mantra’s, I caught up with friends, spiritual teachers, professionals, family, I shared my world, I listened and I trusted my intuition and most of all I wrapped Chiara & Grace with the most beautiful healing love in every moment I could. And where I felt I couldn’t give my 100%, I simply gave myself Compassion.

It’s okay if it doesn’t come naturally to care for a child 24/7 with the kind of intensity that a special needs child requires. It certainly did not come naturally to me; I needed to come up for air. My other daughter Grace at the same age, was crawling and walking, I was working in corporate and had just started my own small business teaching Yoga. These things have since been put on hold, well not the corporate work, I have officially left that behind. woo hoo 😉

But my little poppet Chiara requires constant, and I mean constant care. My husband and I have to tag – even if it’s to go to the toilet (it’s funny these days the toilet has become a mini respite station!) to make sure one of us is with Chiara, if it’s holding her or watching her so she doesn’t bite her finger, or her body get stuck in a bizarre way, or when she has those “Myoclonus” body jolting episodes that make her scream. If we sit her up with cushions and support, we need to be close by as she is unable to keep her body upright, her body can suddenly fall forwards, backwards, sideways and her reflexes don’t work to protect her.  The other day I saw her stuck under her beanie, it was covering her eyes and mouth, she was unable to take it off as her little arms can’t do that for her. So many little things. But we get on with it, why – because any parent would walk over hot coals for their child, it’s a deep and profound connection and one that gives you a reservoir or strength, will and determination.

Though at times it’s tough, even with the greatest amount of LOVE; it still has its moments. Physically it’s demanding, socially limiting (even a trip to the supermarket is a mission) and emotionally taxing as you watch your child suffer.

You only have to look at Mother Nature herself, the animal kingdom where you see parents fiercely protecting their own, you do it, because they are part of you, from you and always within you.

Self love. Self care – to give you more power to provide more care. Simple as that. It’s so very important, and when Chiara begins to stir from 4am and we know our day has to begin (even if we got to bed at midnight) we need to show up for our highest potential and the only way we can continue to do it (without burning out) is through Self Love – Self Care. I think I’ve repeated it enough in this post 😉

To all the mums of special needs children, please reach out when you need to. Give yourself the gift of Self Care and Self Love without one drop of guilt. Do it NOW! Be compassionate to yourself. I have raised a neuro-typical child (omg I can’t believe how much medical language has infiltrated my diction lol), and it has no comparison to the amount of additional care you need to provide for the special needs child with conditions like Chiara’s.

The beautiful thing about honouring your ‘self’, is that things become clearer – more so, on a spiritual level. I can honestly say without a shadow of doubt, that I have never felt so completely guided, supported, intuitive and so completely sure of my purpose in life since Chiara (& Grace) came into my life. I have come into my power, and feel so much more at ease with life, with Chiara and her host of medical health concerns. It’s not to say I don’t have rough days, the reality is it’s still hard work and my heart still breaks, but there has been a shift. I’m a mum, like so many, running on very little sleep but with a mountain of LOVE. And I believe it is because I take time for Self Care – Self Love.

I felt this just the other night. I was a guest speaker at an event at The Pullman Hotel. I was tired with the flu and I was feeling a little nervous about public speaking. Yet, as I stood before the crowd and began to share my journey with Chiara, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be, I felt so aligned with my life’s mission and completely authentic in who I was and what I was sharing. As I glanced at my husband, my Dad, my beautiful girls who were featured on the power point slides and the sense of my family, friends and community, I knew everything was going to be okay.

Later that night, as I lay in bed I thought about Chiara. I smiled to myself through my tears, thank you Chiara (& Grace) for choosing me to be your mum and providing an opportunity for such immense growth and transformation. I have a sneaky suspicion that this has been part of your Grand Plan all along, cheeky one.

Your Papa and I will try our very best to provide both you and Grace with the tools you need to reach your highest potential – and it all comes down to Self Care and Self Love.

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