"It's important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story. "
- Iyanla Vanzant
Brave Mama in My Family Series is all about sharing real mum stories. Brave mums. Everyday mums. With each story, I hope they will encourage you, inspire you and so we can all be brave together in our own journey. Truly, it is easier to be brave together than alone.
Today, I have the honour to welcome Karen to our Brave Mama in My Family series. Karen has firsthand experience of journeying with a child going through major heart surgery and long stays in hospital. And with her experience, she now has started a wonderful business of creating clothing for children who have gone through these major surgeries or are undergoing treatments in the hospital.
Having a child who needs to undergo surgery or treatment is possibly one of the worst fears of a mum. There is so much that mums with little ones who aren't well need to juggle - manage the household, be your little one's advocate and take care of the other family members all while running in and out of the hospital daily.
Join me, as we read more about Karen's brave mama journey, and find out what helped her through this tough journey.
1. Tell us about yourself, where you are based and a little about your little one(s)/ the work that you do.
My name is Karen, and I live in Melbourne with my Australian born Greek hubby Demos and our three kidlets; Felix (5), Arthur (3 1/2) and Sophie (2 1/2).
Demos and I are currently building our business, Cocooned. It’s based around our clothing design for children who have undergone surgery or are undergoing treatment in hospital.
Through our website, we also deliver information, tips and advice for parents and careers who find themselves in this awful situation.
2. What is the most difficult/challenging thing you had to deal with in your mama-hood journey?
There have been quite a few difficult and challenging things
Currently my biggest challenge is to stop being a ‘just’ mama. When the kids ask for my attention, I feel like I am constantly saying things like; just give me five minutes, just let me clean the kitchen, just let me finish this email, just, just, just.
Instead of ‘yes’!
I’m getting better, however I need to stop myself sometimes and think; how important is it to wipe the bench down or put the washing away right now?
I’d also like to flag another challenge I faced, in case there are other mama’s feeling the same. I had undiagnosed postnatal depression with my first baby Felix, my husband had his concerns at the time, however it’s something I only realised when Arthur came along. With Arthur it was all so different, and exactly how it should have been.
I feel like I missed out on so much when Felix was a little baby, all because I thought I was just ‘sad’. Any mother out there who is currently feeling sad or not quite themselves, please make sure you ask for help, especially if you’re not sure you need it.
"(About PND) Any mother out there who is currently feeling sad or not quite themselves, please make sure you ask for help, especially if you’re not sure you need it."
- Karen Wasson
Brave Mama in my Family
3. What is the bravest thing you had to do as a mama?
At my 12 week ultrasound with Sophie, it was discovered that she had a complex congenital heart condition. This made for an extremely stressful pregnancy, during which we also lived in, and renovated our house (with Felix 2 years and Arthur 9 months old at the time) all so we had enough room! This could be classed as brave, or just plain crazy!
At four weeks old, Sophie had her first open heart surgery. What followed was an extremely tumultuous six months for our family, where Sophie had multiple complications and multiple surgeries.
Without a doubt, the bravest thing I’ve had to do is literally put the life of my daughter into the hands of strangers, and then watch on helplessly, as my little girl fought to get better, and then fought the barrage of complications that came her way. I’ve spent countless, sleepless, tear filled nights in emergency, by a hospital bed, being my daughter’s advocate, looking for answers and making sure I was there for my boys and husband too.
I read something beautiful the other day that made so much sense to me. It was about how we are all contradictions. It simply said; We are terrified, and we are brave. I was only brave, because I had no other choice, we cannot be one without the other.
"I read something beautiful the other day.... We are terrified, and we are brave"
- Karen Wasson
Brave Mama in My Family
4. Is there another brave mama who inspires you? How has she inspired you?
There are so many, including my own mum, my sister (who is brave every day) and my grandmother.
However the bravest mama I know is my friend Erin, whose little girl Bell, was diagnosed with Leukemia at just 18 months old. During our time in hospital with Sophie, they were fighting their own battles, and even though we live hundreds of kilometers away from each other, Erin would always send messages and check how we were doing.
Tragically, Erin lost her beautiful little girl Bell 2 years ago at the age of just six. Through all this heartache, Erin still makes sure we are okay, while she supports her two boys and her partner. In her job, she works to help others, and she advocates for research into childhood cancer.
She is so brave.
5. What would you say to another mama who may be going through similar circumstances?
Make sure you look after yourself. If your child is in hospital for any reason, no matter how trivial you may think it is, it’s hard.
It’s hard because you feel so hopeless and helpless and all you really wish you could do is trade places with them and take their hurt, fear and frustration away. Even though you feel this way, your child needs you, and they need you to be able to function! You can’t do that if you’re not looking after yourself too.
"Your child (in hospital) needs you, and they need you to be able to function. You can't do that if you're not looking after yourself too."
- Karen Wasson
Brave Mama in My Family
6. What is the one word/phrase for you in your mama-hood journey?
Self care is something that is often swept to the bottom of the to-do list for mums. And even more so for mums who have little ones in the hospital. But it is something so important, as we cannot give when we are running on an empty tank.
Mamas, don't forget to set aside some time to refuel and recharge because YOU are important.
We have something new and really special for mamas who have to spend a considerable amount of time in the hospital because of a child or because they have to undergo treatments themselves at the hospital.
Our new YOU GOT THIS! Heart Box was designed to be a good alternative to flowers for friends or family who are caught in this situation where they have to stay in the hospital or go through treatments.
This Heart Box contains something practical for the mama, with a touch of humour to lighten her day up. It's like a care package sent to convey your thoughts, encouragement and love.
We hope this Heart Box will bring sunshine and some lighthearted encouragement to women and mums who have to spend a considerable time in the hospital.
Have the most wonderful week ahead. And YOU are beautiful. Don't Change. (But change your socks though. :) )
You can follow Karen at: