We may be fortunate enough to have our own mothers still in our lives, or to be mothers ourselves, but May 12 is also a day to support the women who have lost their children and also to show compassion for those who desire to become a mother, but haven’t yet been able to hold a baby in their arms.
It is a day to celebrate the aunties, grandmothers, sisters and foster carers who have opened themselves up to others as a source of strength and support to fill the void when mothers are absent physically or emotionally.
My Weekly Preview has connected with four Sunshine Coast mothers to shine a light on just how different every path is for each of us, so when we celebrate this May 12, let’s show love and support for one another, drop all judgement and embrace our differences to provide a greater future for all mums and the next generation we are raising as a community.
Mix FM radio host, blogger, columnist and mother of Avalon, 8, Nixon, 6, Augie 4.
I was that silly person who paid for one of those courses that teaches you how to change a nappy and how to hold a baby.
My first month of being a mum was pretty terrible, as I was in and out of hospital with mastitis, trying to breastfeed. Everyone wanted to give me advice.
I was not sleeping at all and poor Avalon was crying around the clock as she was clearly hungry, but at no stage did anyone say give her formula and give yourself a break.
It took until she was about three weeks old and I was mentally exhausted and physically broken from expressing around the clock and she was losing weight, when a nurse told me to give her a formula bottle.
We locked the door and it was as if we were trafficking illegal drugs. Things got so much better from that moment on and we have such a close bond it blows me away.
I will never forget the day I left the hospital with Avalon. I felt as if I should have to pass an exam to prove I was going to be able to keep this little being alive without any other adult supervision.
Since then, I think I have ticked off just about every ‘Mum Fail’ on the list. When Avalon was about three, she stuck a sultana up her nose and I did not believe it was really wedged up there. We had to go to hospital to have it removed.
There was also the time I left my three-year-old son in a holiday unit in Rainbow Beach by accident. My husband had phoned to say he was pretty sure Matt Damon and Chris Hemsworth were in the foyer. In my rush to go and have a look for myself, I only grabbed two of my three children. We all went and got photos with the movie stars and could not believe we met them when finally I looked around for Augie and realised he was back in the unit watching TV.
I am still really emotional over the fact that we will not be having any more kids, as we tried for years and years to have one more, but I left it too late.
My husband and I had more than 10 miscarriages over eight years and it has left me very raw emotionally. All those babies are hopefully waiting for me over the rainbow.
Miscarriage is something we don’t talk about as it makes people feel embarrassed. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, but friends never seem to know what to say.My advice is to always acknowledge the loss. All this hiding and not talking about it just makes the suffering worse.
My pint-sized roommates are hilarious little people to live with and I am blessed to have a full and happy life. But those miscarriages happened and they were such a huge part of my life, so I think they are an important part of what has made me the person I am today. They have certainly made me appreciate the three beautiful children I have to hold every day.
Barnardos Mother of the Year Queensland and mother of Courtney, 29, Nathanael, 27, Wesley, 26, Hannah, 23, Samuel, 19, Toby, 12, Jemimah, 10.
Being a mum is an evolving experience and I think you get less dogmatic as a mother as you get older and more experienced. I was so idealistic in the beginning and there’s a standing joke that you sterilise everything with the first kid and the fourth kid eats dirt – there is an element of truth there.
There are definitely values that I hold onto strongly, but I’ve raised all my kids the same way and they’ve turned out very differently. That’s because they are individuals and make their own choices.
What I’ve learned is that you have to hold on firmly, but not tightly.
My youngest, Jemimah, has severe special needs. She was born with a rare chromosome 22 duplication and she copped the gauntlet of physical and mental challenges. She is very tiny, only 12 kilograms, which makes her vulnerable health-wise, especially with her chronic heart condition as well.
When I was pregnant with Jem, I kept getting told they didn’t know if she could survive. Even though it was touch-and-go from the start, she is very feisty. She’s non-verbal and immobile, but she knows how to reach out and touch people’s hearts.
Glen and I have been through a few challenges with kids battling mental illness as well. Between that and with Jem, you do have to look at life a little differently. I used to think that being independent was this huge achievement. If you could cope in life and not need anybody, that somehow made you a better person.
But having Jem, made me realise that I do need other people in my life, like the therapists and doctors, just to get through each day and sometimes, being independent is not a strength, it’s actually a weakness.
International speaker and best-selling author
Biological children: Adam, 35, Brandon, 14, Bella, 11. Step-children: Melissa, 46, Cameron, 44, Jasmine, 37. Grandchildren: Michael, 14, Mitchell, 13, William, 11 , Dane, 11, Tate, 9, Taj, 8, Hannah, 7, Ocean, 6.
My motherhood journey has been far from conventional, going from a young mum in my early twenties to stepmother in my thirties and then mother again in my forties. I was pregnant at the same time as my stepdaughters and my children with my husband Allan are fraternal twins born three years apart.
I vividly remember the day my step-daughter Jasmine and I decided to go to a baby expo together. I was only a month ahead of her in the pregnancy and we were excited, giggling and chatting when a woman commented how great it was for two friends to be having babies together. Jasmine looked at her and started laughing and says, “This is my mum, she’s carrying my brother and I’m carrying her first grandson”.
I delivered Brandon first and when I went to check in to hospital, the staff referred to me as a geriatric mother because I was over 40. That’s a term that really didn’t work for me and I pointed out that I hadn’t planned to check into the old folk’s home after my son was born.
When I first met Allan, he already had three kids and I had one son, Adam, and I accepted we wouldn’t have any more children. When Allan was diagnosed with prostate cancer 15 years later, we realised that if he died there would be nothing left that was jointly him and I – no evidence that we ever even existed – and so it was then that we decided to have children.
We made this decision despite my ‘geriatric’ age and Allan no longer having viable sperm because of the cancer therapy. Allan attempted a new procedure involving the transfer of his DNA to my eggs.
We faced incredibly negative attitudes from others, with many people telling us Allan would be dead and I would be raising our kids by myself and, as two doctors said to us, “Buy a dog”. But I was positive that we could achieve it.
There were many occasions where the moral judgments of others left me in a sorry emotional state, so we decided to sideline all negative people.
We went through IVF combined with DNA transfer three times and I kept a positive mind and just decided I was going to be a mum one way or another – there would be no compromise.
We lost our first round of fetuses due to an error in the lab, so we went to Sydney to try two more rounds. Despite the odds – less than three per cent – I fell pregnant with Brandon and we still had two embryos left. One was a C grade and the other was a perfect female, B grade, so we named her Bella and snap-froze her into cryo-suspension for the next three years.
When Allan and I are interviewed about our books and our successes, they often ask what my greatest achievement is. It’s all of my children. What we do for work is fulfilling and we love it, but watching my children grow into loving, caring and kind young people is the most rewarding.
Olympic swimmer and businesswoman
Children: Jett, 24, Morgan, 27, Jaimi Lee, 31 Grandchildren: Flynn, 1
I always wanted to be a young mum and I had Jaimi Lee when I was 24. My kids were Olympics apart. I had a good four years between each child, which I really liked as it gave me a couple of years to enjoy them growing up before the next one came along.
When Jett was born, he had two older sisters that would carry him around like a ragdoll, it was always lots of fun to watch.
Back in my day, we just winged it as a mum. We didn’t have many people to talk to or resources in those days and we just did the best we could.
I took all the kids with me when I worked. At times they would sit on the stage while I was in the middle of my presentation. Once, one of them actually fell off the stage when I was part way through a presentation. I just picked them back up, calmed them down and kept on going.
Grant and I made every effort to be hands-on parents. We would go to all the school carnivals and dancing eisteddfods, soccer and acting, swimming carnivals, gymnastics. Everything the kids got involved in, we were involved with them.
Like any mum, I have experienced the dreaded number threes. I was sitting in first class [on a flight] once with one of my daughters and she had filled her nappy to overflowing. It was literally leaking out the sides, and we were on descent, so I couldn’t get out of the seat to change her nappy. I just wrapped her in a blanket to contain it and had to apologise to the guy sitting next to me.
As youngsters, the kids taught me patience and the power of bribery, but they also showed me the importance of allowing them to choose their own path. We can give them opportunities, but ultimately they start to have a desire to go on their own path that makes them really happy and that’s all I want for them.
I am so happy to be a Granny. It’s amazing to see your baby have a baby. My kids are always my babies and are the most precious thing to me ever. To see my daughter go through that whole process was magical and while Morgan knows how much I love all my children, it has been incredible to see her discover that love for her own son – the kind of unconditional love you have as a mum.
[My husband] Mark and I are hands-on grandparents with Flynn and love having him as much as we can, playing and looking after him.
My mum, Pat Curry, is 84 now and we have four living generations. My mum is my biggest fan. She taught me to be strong, to be resilient and she was so supportive and encouraging of every single thing I did. It was mum who got up every morning and took me to swimming training, sitting on the hard seats for hours on end and came to a couple of Olympics with me.
My business, Happy Healthy You, is a community of 140,000 women and is all about helping and empowering women in the prevention of illness and disease and showing them how to look after themselves through health and fitness to ensure they are there for their children.