Hometown: Perth Hills, Western Australia
Star Sign: Gemini (we get a bad rap!)
Growing up, I wanted to be: An Olympic Gold Medalist (I was an elite gymnast in my childhood)
To me, wellness is: Cultivating and sustaining the physical, emotional and spiritual practices that empower you to show up as your best and most authentic self on a daily basis.
Self-care items you can’t live without: my running shoes, AirPods, guided meditation app, and set of Zingara Mists of course (Master Healer is my personal fav)
You have two beautiful girls that call you ‘Mum’ - Vienna, 3, and Ellery, 1. What’s your favourite thing about being their Mum?
It’s the little moments for me! Morning walks and scooter rides to the coffee shop and the park, the pearler one liners Vienna comes out with and the cheeky look of mischief Ellery gives when into something she shouldn’t be. It’s snuggles on the couch, reading books, dance parties and backyard running races. I also love that they are both so fiercely strong willed and independent.
Lately, watching the sisterly love bloom between my girls has brought me so much joy. It is just so special to witness and comforting to know they have each other. It makes the journey we’ve been on all so worth it.
Your motherhood journey hasn’t been an easy one; can you share about your pregnancy experiences and greatest teachings?
If you’d asked me two years ago I would have been embarrassed to share my story – for a long time I was ashamed that my pregnancy and birth journey wasn’t like ‘everyone else’ around me and I was resentful and angry that I was robbed of the magical experience I thought it would be. Now I look back and I couldn’t be prouder of strength and my two happy, healthy thriving girls, and relish any opportunity to raise awareness and sing the praises of those who helped me along the way.
In a nutshell, in 2018 I was expecting my first daughter (Vienna). At 25 weeks I was diagnosed with gallstones triggered by pregnancy hormones which would leave me in agony each ‘gallstone attack’, but it was too late in the pregnancy to remove my gallbladder safely and became a matter of pain management. Next at my 28-week appointment, I was told I had critically high blood pressure and protein in my urine consistent with severe early onset pre-eclampsia. I was put on bed rest in hospital immediately and told to prepare for my baby to be delivered that weekend at 28 weeks’ gestation. After being at the gym that morning and feeling fine (aside from the gallstones) I remember being convinced they had it wrong; but that’s the thing with pre eclampsia, it can all be so unassuming and everything is fine until it’s not. My baby had also become growth restricted as a consequence of the placenta not functionally optimally, and she was closely monitored. I managed to stabilise my health and keep her in utero for another 4 weeks, but on the 4th August 2018 my blood pressure spiralled out of control requiring an emergency ambulance ride to the only hospital that delivers babies so prematurely. Within 20 minutes Vienna Harper was born at 32 weeks gestation via emergency c-section. She was 1.4kg at birth and taken straight to the NICU, while I was transferred to adult intensive care to stabilise my own health. I also sustained a detached retina in my eye from my blood pressure skyrocketing so needed further tests to avoid a subsequent surgery to repair it. I finally met my daughter 2 days later after she was born, and though she was tiny she was fierce (and still is!). After four long weeks learning to feed and grow Vienna came home at 2kg and 36 weeks gestation, and she’s been a thriving, feisty little firecracker ever since.
I fell pregnant again when Vienna turned 1; we popped a gender balloon, my bump grew, and I excitedly started to tell those around me. However, my world imploded when a major abnormality was detected with our baby boy (Harvey). The impact this would have had on his quality of life, coupled with the increased risk of premature delivery again given my health, meant I had to make the heartbreaking decision to have a medical termination at 18 weeks. It was without a doubt the toughest time of my life and a decision no parent should ever have to make, but in my heart I know I did the right thing for him and his quality of life, and for my family. Motherhood is so often about doing the right thing, not the easy thing and putting the needs of others above our own. This decision was no exception.
Fast forward 6 months (with an early miscarriage in between), and my now Ellery was on her way, but not without some drama of her own. After all we had endured before her, at 13 weeks we were told she was high risk for Down Syndrome based on the Harmony test result. An agonising 2 week wait to get to a safe gestation to have an amniocentesis, but it confirmed what I always knew in my heart – she was perfectly fine and the result had been a false positive. It frustrates me how that these genetic tests are marketed as 99% accurate and don't get me wrong they have their place, but it is so important to remember they are only screening tests and not a diagnostic. Thankfully the excitement ended there and it was smooth sailing until pre-eclampsia reared its head again and Ellery Haven was born at 35 weeks but safely, perfectly healthy and thriving. She really has been my 'haven'.
Needless to say my journey to motherhood was nothing like I ever expected, and it continues to be a long healing journey. But It has taught me so much about the power of mindset - releasing control, surrendering and trusting that the universe is always conspiring in our favour and for our highest good even when it doesn’t feel like it. It has pushed me in directions I may have never explored, and led me to decisions I may not have had the courage to make otherwise. I would do it all over again for my two smart, funny, beautiful and spirited little girls.
What has been your greatest teachings from motherhood so far?
Where do I start! Every day I am reminded of all the opportunities for growth that motherhood presents me with (which often feel more like frustrations at the time!). Especially since becoming a Mum of two, I’ve really tried to lean into acceptance and presence – reminding myself that my girls will never be this young again and to really breathe in all the precious little moments. That said, I spent so much time resisting and fighting against how much my life and my priorities had changed and struggling to feel like ‘me’. My career had been such a huge part of my identity, and without it I felt completely lost, but equally I didn’t want to return to the corporate world on their terms and lose precious time with my girls. I beat myself up a lot for not identifying with or enjoying the ‘stay at home mum life’ that I thought I had wanted. Now - I have worked really hard to accept and embrace that motherhood is only one part of my identity (as is my career), and its ok to balance my own needs and aspirations as the other parts of me that make me whole.
I am by no means a perfect mum, but I know I am the perfect mum for my girls. I will never give up my pursuit to be the best, happiest and most authentic version of me so that I inspire them both to do the same.
In addition to running Zingara, you also run your own Corporate HR Consultancy and Career Coaching businesses; what’s the secret to doing it all?
There is absolutely no secret! In fact I would go as far as to say that achieving ‘balance’ is a myth. Instead I choose to look at it as a constant dance between the girls, the business and my career aspirations, and just flowing with the fact that each facet demands more of me at different times and I try and build flex into my schedule to allow for that. That said, learning to unapologetically set boundaries (I'm still getting the hang of it), and time block my days with my priorities has been a games changer. There is no denying it’s a hustle and I thrive off it, however a big part of the Zingara movement for self care comes from personally reaching burnout a few times in my life, and Zingara serves as that reminder to take time for me too. It might only be 5 minute meditations, 6am Pilates or a weekend long run, but building those micro moments into your daily routines really does create sustainable benefits for you and everyone around you. I try to remember that when we are busy and overwhelmed, this is the moment we need self care the most.
What is your biggest hope and aspiration for your girls?
That they always remember how wildly capable they are of achieving their dreams, and to make sure those dreams are truly their own and not someone else’s. To grow up unapologetically themselves not caring about what other people think, and shining their light so brightly on everything and everyone around them. And to have unshakable self-worth – with a deep knowing that the world is their oyster and they can have anything they desire, and that they won’t just settle for a life less than the one they are capable and deserving of living.
What do you hope your children think of you when they get older?
I hope they see a smart, independent and brave woman who stayed true to herself and triumphed in the face of adversity. Knowing that I love them fearlessly and unconditionally and that they are forever my ‘why’ in all that I do. I might not bake cookies, and I'm the mum always in a rush with coffee in her hand, but I always am and always will be fighting in their corner.
What piece of advice would you give to new Mumma’s finding their way in motherhood?
Remove all expectations of how you think it will be and try to accept and embrace it for what it is. Be kind to yourself. It’s totally ok and normal to miss your old life. The polarity of motherhood is what makes the highs so high. It’s ok to be vulnerable and share how hard it is and that it is not all rainbows and sunshine all the time. Seek out other Mum friends; if you don’t have some around you go to your local mothers group even if you don’t want to; I didn’t want to go either, and I’ve made two of the most amazing friends and our kids adore each other. There ain’t no other hood like motherhood – it will shake you to your core but you will discover part of you that you never knew existed, and find a love that you never thought possible.
This year has seen a lot of change for me both personally and professionally, and throughout it all I continue to hold on to "Feel the fear and do it anyway".