Tell us a little bit about your journey, your awesome charity One Mother to Another, and how you’ve come to arrive here.
This initiative started in May 2016 when I took my 19 month old to my GP to check what I thought was just a stubborn nappy rash. Things took a serious turn when I heard the word ‘meningitis’. My Dr was confident it was not meningitis, but as the rash was typical of meningitis we were sent to the hospital. To be honest I kinda didn’t hear much else about how he was sure it was not meningitis, I just knew in that instant that was terrified at the thought of something seriously wrong with my baby girl. I cried the whole way to the CAAU (children’s Acute Assessment Unit) of Christchurch Hospital. Even though the staff are truly amazing, it was very a stressful, emotional and difficult day. Our beautiful Nurse gave Arabelle an age appropriate ‘goodie’ bag full of things to entertain her while we were waiting for test results and I clearly remember thinking that Mums need encouragement and presents just as much as the kids do! After a long day we were lucky enough to be sent home after being diagnosed with a disease called HSP (Belle has cleared all her further checks). I didn’t realise it at the time, but that 6 hours of stress in the hospital ended up changing my life in amazing ways I could never have dreamed of! I talked to the Charge Nurse that day when we were discharged, to see if giving Mums and carers gift bags was appropriate. Once I got the go ahead I self funded the first 10 packs, which I dropped back to the ward the next week when we had to get another check up. I was unsure of what the reaction would be, but was thrilled to hear the feedback was super positive.
After hearing about the first packs being a success my best friend, Joy Reid, leaped on board with amazing determination, and has been a driving force in propelling One Mother To Another to levels beyond what I could have dreamed of just a year and a half ago. This means so much to Joy as well, as she has been through the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) experience first hand with her first born son, Jonathon. Jonny spent his first week of life in an incubator in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Joy describes herself as being a ‘angry Mumma bear’ being separated from Jonny, and it was a very frightening and vulnerable time for her and Geoff.
Fast forward a year and a half and we are now a registered charity! We supply 130 gift bags a month to these two wards, and have big plans to expand around other New Zealand Hospitals. Our bags are filled with practical and indulgent items which have been generously donated by companies (or offered to us at great prices). Every one of our beautiful gift bags has a hand written note, telling Mums we have sat in their chair and we know how hard it can be. At the heart of what we do, we just want every Mum to feel the love and support from a stranger, and hopefully brighten their day just a tiny bit.
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
How did you choose your kids names?
I had loved the name Bear since discovering how cool Bear Gryliss is! Then when I was pregnant with Bear, and we knew he was a boy, we just loved that name for him. His middle names are Jack and Leon (both family names)
We knew Arabelle was going to be a girl and I had loved the name Belle forever. We also loved the name Snow. When she was born, and we looked at her, we knew she wasn’t a ‘Snow’. But Belle didn’t quite seem enough. Scoot just said out of the blue ‘What about Arabelle”? We had not even heard the name before or talked about it, Scott just said it came to him in that instant! We looked up the meaning and it means’ yielding to prayer’ and it just felt right, as we did alot of praying through her pregnancy for things that were not in our control.
Christchurch, New Zealand
Pharmacy Technician, small business owner, Mum and co-founder of the charity One Mother To Another
What is your favorite book?
Three Wishes – Liane Moriarty (and anything by Liane Moriarty)
How do you unwind?
walking, cooking, winery lunch with Joy, and a good Netflix binge
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
Anything outside together. Fresh air, nature, friends and phones away.
What are some silly/fun things that the kids do or say?
Everyday they make me laugh out loud at the moment. With Arabelle nearly 3 and Bear 4 and a half, they spend their days joint at the hip and having cute conversations with each other. The other day I left them watching tv while I got dinner cooking. I could hear the sound of a sticky tape dispenser going and I thought Bear was fixing one of his planes, when I came out I was shocked to see that he had taken his pants off and completely sticky taped his willy up! Like, a good three times around really tightly. Kids are funny and random!
What is something you wish you had known before having kids?
I wish I had have known how life changing it was for the better. People talk so much about the lack of sleep and the fact that you cant go to the toilet anymore without a little person checking in asking “are you doing wee’s or poos Mummy?’. As much as those things are true, the joy and connection you feel is beyond anything you could dream of. You are someones Mum! Someones world! You have the power to kiss an ‘owie’ better, and help shape this little person. Its a privilege.
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
I dont think I dreamed or worked hard enough when I was a teenager! I feel like I’m really dreaming in my 30’s so much more, and taking active steps to making those things a reality – which is really how One Mother To Another began. I have learnt so much from One Mother To Another and one of the biggest things is to just start. Thats all – just start somewhere. You could be very surprised where you end up.
What are some things you really believe in?
Keep moving forward. Find ways to move forward in all aspects of your life (physically, mentally spiritually), whatever your season of life is. Be compassionate to others, we are all doing life together. Make God your centre with strong foundations and it will make you stronger.
Where do your passions lie?
In relationships with others. Deep, meaningful connections. I’m recently learning the value of those small exchanges with strangers and the power they have to improve my day, and other peoples day as well. I’m trying to slow down and smile at the coffee server and tell her that her dress is amazing. All those small connections are important to me.
Has your relationship with your other half changed since having kids? How do you stay connected?
Scott and I were fortunate to meet each other young, and so by the time we were ready to have a family we had been together 10 years. We had that time to really get our relationship foundations deep enough to have grace with each other when we were both exhausted and cranky from lack of sleep! I feel like that was a key part of getting through those years together, so while we were not always at our best, we knew each other well enough to know the other person was in there somewhere – just a lacking sleep version of ourselves. With leading very busy lives, when we do get time to purposefully connect we go for hikes and walks together and with the kids as well. We find its a great way to really talk to each other and connect with nature as well.
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard).
Dont sweat the small stuff – its just small stuff
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
Find a way to be of service to others , the rest will follow.
What do you find most challenging about being somebody’s parent?
The feeling of always being ‘on’, even when you are sleeping you have one ear open for that call of ‘Mummy’. WORRY! My worry metre went onto overdrive the minute I became and Mum, and I’ve had to work hard to keep that in check ever since.
What do you want your kids to learn about the world?
That their individuality is a gift and that there is no one else like them and thats ok. I want them to love and accept others. I want them to find their unique gifts and use them, I dont want them to be influenced by the world, but an influence TO the world.
What are 4 things you can’t live without as a parent?
- Coffee 2. Best friends that keep it real with you in all areas. 3. Scott (super ninja Daddy) 4. Faith in God that He works all things for good.
If people would like to help One Mother to Another, how can they get involved?
They can go to our website – http://www.onemothertoanother.org.nz/
Also follow us on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fromonemother2another/
We have a give a little page – https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/onemothertoanother
One Mother to Another was set up by two mothers who personally experienced the vulnerability and fear that comes with having a child in hospital. As a result they have set up this charity providing 130 gift bags a month to Mums and Carers of children in two wards of Christchurch Hospital.