We all have those moments in life that knock us to our knees, life is full of them. What matters most is that we learn how to rise afterwards and see the gifts we have unlocked in the process.
One of the most pivotal times in life, was the moment I sat across from the team of doctors who delivered devastating news about my youngest daughter Chiara. News that no parent would ever want associated with their beautiful precious child.
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, Quadriplegic 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 odds 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.
About the Author
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 Roberts-Mazzeo is a passionate writer, coach and speaker, and the founder of Miracle Mama. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and two beautiful daughters. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.