Welcome to the ‘Upset to Set-Up’ Series: Interviews with Inspiring Women

This occasional interview series shines a spotlight on inspiring women and shares their stories of resilience in the face of upset.  Here we interview women who have overcome significant tragedy, loss or upset and used that experience to set themselves up in a new and different way.  They have turned their upset into a set-up.  Each guest generously shares what they have been through to find the joy in life.

Natalie Roberts

Natalie Roberts.  Photo: Emma Wise Photography

Today we meet Natalie Roberts.  Natalie is the founder of Miracle Mama, a global online sanctuary that empowers and inspires mothers who are raising special needs children.

Through coaching, community, and collaborations, Natalie’s mission is to create a space for women to reconnect with themselves and what is most important to them.  To rise to the challenge of special needs parenting and to meet each day with more ease and flow.

Learning more about Natalie in this interview was so inspiring , and I know you will be inspired by this amazing woman too.

1. Please share a bit about yourself and your experience of parenthood

I’m Natalie, a Melbourne based mama with two girls Grace (7) and Chiara (4) and Italian husband Mauro. I’m a Piscean through and through: lover of nature, the ocean, sunsets, organic food, live music, family and friends. I also love my greens ie: mojito’s ;-)!  I love to read; there’s always a good book by my bedside table.

I’m inspired to travel with my family; I really love a good adventure!  Previously, I used to ride a motor bike, sky-dive, rock-climb –  but now my kids give me all the adrenalin I need, thank you very much, especially my youngest daughter!  Usually, I have essential oils simmering away in the house and music in the background.

I left the corporate world of ten years and became a yoga teacher, coach, writer and speaker about all things motherhood.  I’m passionate about the ‘special needs’ and self-care connection, and am on a mission to help other mothers like me who suddenly find themselves raising a medically fragile child.

2. What is your parenting approach or philosophy?

Organic comes to mind!

We’ve been really fluid in our parenting approach, co-sleeping, barefoot in nature where possible, travel and creating a nurturing space for our kids to grow up in.

We value health and wellness and have raised our kids with this important foundation as much as possible. I met my husband when we were both studying Naturopathy, interestingly neither of us completed the degree, life had a different plan for us and we fell pregnant with our first daughter Grace.

We don’t sweat the small stuff now – certainly not as much as we did when we were at the beginning of our parenting journey.

3. Has your parenting approach changed due to your experiences?

To be honest our entire world turned upside down after Chiara was diagnosed with a serious brain injury at 5 months of age. It felt like our whole parenting approach changed so suddenly, we had no choice but to adjust quickly to meet the demands.

We needed to structure and manage our time better.  After Chiara’s diagnosis our life was suddenly overwhelmingly busy!

We attended hundreds of hospital appointments, therapy sessions, equipment trials and juggle a lot of medical paperwork and funding applications. Changes included cutting back work to provide the care Chiara needed.  The impact on our lives was massive.

Not to mention dealing with the huge life transition of becoming not only parents to a second child, but full-time carers for the rest of our daughters life.  It took a long time to come to terms with her diagnosis, I travelled through some very dark days and allowed the grief to surface where and when needed.

After the initial shock of Chiara’s conditions, we have learnt to value TIME more than anything.  Precious family time together, it’s more important that it has ever been.

We have been told Chiara has a shorter life expectancy.  News like this makes you question so many things.

It forced us to re-look at every single thing – from our faith, our fears, our patience, our acceptance, our love, our grief, our hope.

Through it all, we needed to ensure that our eldest daughter has all her needs met, given our focus is on meeting Chiara’s basic human needs as Chiara is fully dependent on us 24/7.

Creating healthy boundaries has been pivotal in maintaining our balance, learning when to say ‘no’ and making decisions that best suit and support our family life.

As much as we move mountain’s to help Chiara reach her full potential in this lifetime, we also have needed to let go of our expectations and things that are out of our control.  This is not an easy thing to do when your child is involved.

So we constantly find ourselves on the precipice of holding on and letting go; it’s a beautiful balance of both sometimes.

4. What have you learned along the way?

  1. {Strength and courage}.The incredible depth of our collective human spirit. Honestly, I am constantly in awe of children like Chiara and their families.  What they endure every single day is nothing short of a miracle.  You need a lot of strength and courage to show up each day, especially on the days when you’re tired, exhausted and feel that all hope is lost.  These moments are tiring but when move through them, we gain an inner strength that we never knew possible.
  1. {Trust and surrender}. I’ve needed to deeply trust in a higher purpose, even through my most challenging days.  I have learnt so much about myself as a woman, a mother and a wife that I would have otherwise never known. Looking back on the past few years spent in hospitals, waiting rooms, waking up hour after hour through the night to attend to her additional needs, all the ongoing therapies, special needs equipment – I think wow we’ve come so far and we need to trust that the best is yet to come.
  1. {Connection and compassion}. I have met some of the most incredible people on my journey. The gift of raising a special needs child is that we all get to experience compassion.  It’s a dual cycle of giving and receiving – just like our breath. I feel honoured that Chiara and her beautiful smile and spirit touches the hearts of many people in our community.

I’ve had people stop me in the street and stand with me and pray, or strangers in the park crying when they have heard Chiara’s story.  That always set’s me off!  Can you imagine a Piscean woman + emotions + my daughter + strangers connecting with so much compassion = floodgates open. And then I’m a teary mess in the check-out line at the supermarket, or in the parks, or waiting rooms!

Chiara is very engaging so naturally people to gravitate to us out in the world.  She hooks people in with her smile, so sharing our story has been a huge part of the healing.

Mostly, it’s the special needs sisterhood has got me through.  It’s a very isolating experience.  Some of my nearest and dearest friends would never know what I go through, yet another special needs mother understands.

5. What is the most important thing you need to do each day to maintain your well-being?

I hold a space for deep gratitude.

I say “Thank you”.

No matter what curve balls come my way (and there are many!!) I practice gratitude every single day.

I connect with my breath, mindfulness and I also get out into nature, read, write and meditate.

6. Complete these sentences:

  • Love is . . . your foundation for absolutely everything in life.
  • A life of joy looks like . . .  ongoing celebration’s!
  • My wish for my children is . . . my deepest wish is that Grace and Chiara both live to their full miraculous potential.

7. If you could travel back in time and give yourself once piece of advice before you commenced this journey, what would it be?

Never lose sight of the ‘light’ no matter how dark it gets. Incredible things await you, hang in there and you will witness miracles unfold.  Trust.  Be patient, bold, courageous and grateful.  And always, be self-compassionate.

More about Natalie and Miracle Mama:

Natalie is a qualified Yoga Teacher from the Academy of Yoga Learning and Life Coach from the Beautiful You Coaching Academy. Natalie also has a background in corporate Sales & Marketing.  She is based in Melbourne, Australia where she lives with her gorgeous husband and two beautiful daughters.

Miracle Mama is global online sanctuary for mothers who have a child with a disability or life changing diagnosis. It is a space specifically designed to help empower mothers to manage their unique life circumstances.  To help them reconnect with what is most important to them.  And to help them achieve optimum health and wellness through their extraordinary motherhood journey.

You can connect with Natalie and Miracle Mama on her Website, Instagram and on Facebook.

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If you have an amazing story of resilience and would like to share it, please get in touch. I’d love to connect and share your story.