Meditating with Mantras – utilising the power of intention {monday meditation}

Thank you to Belinda for continuing to help us find solace and serenity in amidst our busy lives. This is the third post in our ‘Monday Meditation’ series in October. If you’ve missed our previous editions, you can find Belinda’s first post here and second post here. ~ Annie x


Ever experienced the feeling of being stuck? Stuck in your thoughts, stuck in a way of living that’s not working for you or just stuck in a job, a place or relationship you’ve outgrown?

It’s a powerless feeling, isn’t it? Often when you’re stuck in just one area of your life it can end up affecting all the other areas of your life and your overall happiness. As humans we can have a tendency to subconciously focus our energy on the things that are not going so well, rather than all the other areas that are ticking along quite nicely.

So, how do we change the things that we feel stuck in without dwelling on them and becoming negative?

One way is through meditating on mantras and using the power of positive energy and thinking to move some of our ‘stuckness’ and shift our perspective on some of our inner turmoils and outer problems.

I’ve only just recently started to work more with mantras in my personal meditation practice and have found for me it has been a really effective way to work on some areas in my life where I feel stuck.

I find that focusing on a positive mantra can help me centre while I’m meditating and then be more aware of how I want to be and behave when I’m not actively meditating. A mantra can be a phrase or a word that means something to you – the simpler the better. For example, if you’d like to inject more calm into your daily life, your mantra may be something like ‘I am calm’. This is your anchoring phrase, the phrase you repeat in your mind, while focusing on your breath. You may also want to put it up in places you can see around your house to remind you, particularly when the kids are driving you crazy and it’s not yet 9am.

To come up with your mantra, have a think about the things you’d like to attract in your life rather than what you want to remove, as the more positively you can word your mantra the better. So, instead of saying ‘Stop acting out of frustration’ you might want to say ‘I am ease and grace’.

Personal mantras can be very powerful and they’ve definitely helped me feel less stuck this year and move towards living a mindful and happy life. There are a whole heap of sanskrit mantras, which is the language of yoga, that are very powerful in shifting energy and thinking too. I’ve done some of these in yoga class and online meditations and find them very effective (if very hard to pronounce at times!). The simplest of these is chanting Om – which is said to remind us of our connection to the divine and each other.

I’d really love to hear what you think of mantras and if you’ve used them successfully in your life. Feel free to share yours if you feel comfortable. If you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below, pop over to the blog or join me on facebook, twitter or instagram.

Belinda is a journalist, yoga-addict and mother to two boys, always searching for ways to live a purposeful and stress-free life. Join her over at her blog Save Mum’s Sanity in celebrating the perfectly imperfect journey of motherhood.


42/52 {inspired}

As much as I love being at home with my children, escaping on occasion is also quite good for the soul. This week (with the help of a lovely friend and my mum to juggle my children), I was privileged to attend The Future of Leadership conference and came away feeling so inspired. So much genius in one room, it was pretty darn a-mazing.

Amidst all the gems, there were so many references to the power of storytelling and personal connection. I have felt so blessed over the past 18 days to share stories from around the Down syndrome community. I just wanted to say thank you to all those who have entrusted us with your stories and shared a piece of your heart here in this space. Thank you also to those who have graciously read and received those words into your hearts. I feel honoured to witness the exchange of words, love and encouragement throughout October so far. And there is more to come.

With love x

52-42-7nicholas: You were in rock-throwing heaven when we had our little family adventure to an out-of-the-way creek over the weekend. Unfazed by the cold water, you were happy to wriggle out of my arms and explore, delighted to get soaking wet and throw every available rock into the pools of water. Moments like these confirm to me that you aren’t a baby anymore. You love getting amongst the adventure.

52-42-8sam: While you’re a bit out of sorts while on steroids at the moment, our attempt at a strategy to keep you active and distracted this weekend seems to have worked pretty well. You and I enjoyed sneaking out for an early morning walk/scooter ride to a local café on Saturday morning, and we all had fun going on our adventure to the creek. When we picked you up from a friend’s birthday party this morning, it was nice to hear a few of the parents comment on what a lovely boy you are – even when you’re on edge, your inner beauty shines through.

52-42-9charlie: While you would have much preferred to stay in your pyjamas at home than go on this ‘family adventure’ we kept rabbiting on about, your excitement was tangible from the moment you spotted the rocky creek bed and knew you had a new world to explore.  You have been extra cuddly lately, and we’re loving all the affection. I love that you snuck into our bed as the sun rose this morning, snuggled into me and went back to sleep.

Joining in the 52 Project at Practising Simplicity ~ a portrait of each of my boys every week in 2014.

Portraits this week by Daddy-love.


Osteopathic Treatment and Management of Children with Down syndrome {guest post}

I consider the fact that Nicholas has had osteopathy treatments from a very early age a ‘happy accident’. My sister is an osteopath and one of her friends and colleagues, Sharnie, asked if she could treat Nicholas as part of a university assignment. Nicholas and I both fell in love with Sharnie and happily continued having regular appointments, and it was only later I read more about the benefit of osteopathy for patients with Down syndrome. Our whole family receives and loves osteopathy treatments, but I have been particularly impressed with very visible results for both Nicholas and Sam, whose post-Leukaemia limp significantly reduced after his first osteopathy treatment post starting chemo. As well as being so lovely, Sharnie is super clever and I am grateful that she is able to share some of the scientific background behind osteopathy treatment for children with Down syndrome. ~ Annie x


Osteopathy is a form of manual healthcare that has a holistic approach in assessing, treating and managing the structure of the body and the way it functions. Osteopaths are five years university trained primary health care workers, with a thorough understanding in anatomy, physiology, pathology, general medical diagnosis and osteopathic technique. Using skilled evaluation, diagnosis and a wide range of hands-on techniques, osteopaths can identify important types of physical difficulties in the body.

A paediatric osteopath uses the application of the these osteopathic principles to practice and promote the health and wellbeing of babies, children and adolescents. Using specific knowledge of the child’s developing body structure and function, and psychosocial considerations, a paediatric osteopath understands that a child develops best through the interactions between their primary caregivers and other key persons, such as health professionals.

Osteopathic treatment has been shown to be an effective therapy for children with Down syndrome. While it is understood that Down syndrome is a growth disorder due to an additional 21st chromosome, affecting all systems of the body, it presents fundamentally as a disorder of the nervous system. More recently, it has been thought that postnatal hypoxia (a reduction of oxygen to the body, after birth) as a result of upper airway obstruction, contributes to many of the developmental difficulties associated of Down syndrome, rather than a direct impact from the additional chromosome. Osteopaths consider the implications of this new information to help formulate their therapy for babies and toddlers with Down syndrome at this important time in their development.

Sharnie2The effect of the extra chromosome slows the growth of the baby during weeks 6-12 of pregnancy. This slowing of growth causes a shortening of the front-to-back measurement in length at the base of the skull, a region referred to medically as the cranial base. In a child with Down syndrome, two of the bones that make up the cranial base are shorter and more vertically inclined. This near vertical angle affects some of the tissues that attach to these bones and form the throat. The position of these tissues and bones shortens the airway passage from the nose and mouth. This often increases the airway resistance and likelihood of hypoxia. Children born with Down Syndrome can also have a flatter palate within the mouth, a shorter chin, and a smaller septum that divides the nostrils within the nose. These changes can contribute to the obstruction to the upper airway. As a result, children with Down syndrome tend to breathe through their mouth. These differences can also contribute to feeding difficulties.

Other physical differences that are common for children with Down syndrome include absent or narrowed sinuses within the bones of the face. When this happens, it leads to poor drainage of mucous. This provides an environment for middle ear and upper respiratory infections, which can further contribute to additional difficulties in breathing. The narrowing of their airway can also lead to a condition called sleep apnoea, where the walls of the throat close during sleep and reduce the oxygen supply. This lowers the amount of oxygen within the bloodstream. It is thought that when the body does not receive enough oxygen over a sustained period of time, altered development can occur to the nerves within the brain that affect behaviour. This may be why these children can experience learning difficulties, hyperactivity and/or aggression.

Sharnie3While it is unlikely that postnatal hypoxia alone is the complete cause of this pattern of developmental difficulties found in a child with Down syndrome, it is probable that it has some part to play. Osteopathic treatment may be used effectively to reduce hypoxia, by offering a safe, non invasive and effective means of maximising and maintaining an open airway.

In the mid 20th century, osteopathic physician William Sutherland suggested that the bones of the skull and face were flexible, allowing some movement against each other; later, Retzlaff & Mitchell demonstrated that the joints between the bones of the skull and face contain connective tissue, blood vessels and nerves; and Viola Frymann later demonstrated that the cranial bones do move. This movement, or reduced movement, of these bones, especially the cranial base, can be detected and gently manipulated by an osteopath whom is adequately trained in Sutherland’s development of osteopathic medicine. This form of treatment is referred to as cranial osteopathy.

Not all osteopaths treat with cranial osteopathic technique, so it is recommended to request this treatment technique at the time of booking the initial consultation. While not all osteopaths treat with cranial technique, other gentle osteopathic techniques applied to the neck and chest can assist the drainage of the sinuses, further assisting with the breathing difficulties that children with Down syndrome can experience. Osteopaths can also help with the development of muscle tone, through a combination of movement therapy and manual osteopathic technique, in assisting children with Down syndrome to reach their motor milestones. This can be a useful addition to the other therapies children with Down syndrome may receive.

Osteopaths are covered by most private health funds and also by the Medicare Chronic Disease Management (CDM) scheme. To locate an osteopath, either access the Osteopathy Australia website and enter your postcode, or the Southerland Cranial Teaching Foundation.

Sharnie McCooke graduated from RMIT University Melbourne with a Bachelor and Masters in Osteopathy. With a passion for paediatric and perinatal osteopathy she is also an internationally qualified Lactation Consultant. Sharnie is the Director of The Brisbane Children’s Clinic that is currently practicing at Osteocare in Nundah. Outside Osteopathy, Sharnie enjoys yoga, gardening and swimming.

Photography credit: Jess Nicholls



The View from Here: a dad’s perspective on receiving a prenatal Down syndrome diagnosis

Tonight, I have the pleasure of sharing the raw and unfiltered words of the man I am lucky enough to call my husband and the father of our beautiful boys. Our journey hasn’t always been easy, but I am thankful to share this crazy life with someone so calm, clever, compassionate and committed. I know it was hard to get these words from your heart out into the Universe, so thank you my love. ~ Annie x

201220May_2313At the risk of stating the obvious, being the father of a kid with Down syndrome is different to being the mother of a kid with Down syndrome. I say this not as someone who has experienced both perspectives (having never been the mother of a kid with DS), but as someone who has realised that we all have different ways of viewing and engaging with the world, and things just work better if we recognise and support each other in these differences. Even better yet if we are able to see and use these differences as a source of combined strength and resilience.

As a man, pregnancy and childbirth has always mildly terrified me, and the diagnosis (are you allowed to call it that?) that my wife was pregnant with our third brought with it that now familiar knot of anxiety. She on the other hand ascended into a Zen state of quiet satisfaction as her world continued to shape itself quite nicely indeed into the vision she had always had for it.

When we received prenatal confirmation of T21, neither of us coped overly well. Her world of quiet satisfaction and confidence came crumbling down, as my fears and anxieties were given a name and began to crystalize before my eyes. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my life, and hope I never have cause to again. My world splintered even further as I felt my wife and I moving apart and becoming isolated from each other as we each worked through the process of grief in our own way.

I felt about as isolated and lonely as I think a person can feel. I desperately needed emotional support, but the one person who I needed the most was not there for me. She was too busy fighting for her own sanity to help with mine. As I watched her spend time with her family and friends, talking, coming to terms with our news, forming opinions and making decisions, I became even more isolated. She didn’t need me. She had an amazing support network around her that had nothing to do with me, nurtured with care and devotion over the years, and now proving its worth. I had no such thing. As with so many men, I had committed so fully to my work, my wife and my children, that I was now stranded without any hope of the perspective or support of others.

Or so I thought. At the point where my days were darkest an old friend who I rarely see reached out to me. I spent the next two hours pacing my back yard, confessing my deepest fears to him on the phone, half the time unable to speak through the tears. After this I was still not alright. But a light had been turned on. I could start to see that I wasn’t as alone as I had once felt, and I could start to hear the words of concern and offers of support around me.

My world had splintered and fallen apart. I had become lonely and isolated not only from others, but from my wife. But now we began to move towards each other again and we lent in. We rediscovered each other. We were now able to start to see the world around us once more. We were able to listen to each other’s fears and hopes, and to see the differences and the similarities, draw strength from that and start to move on.

Having a child with Down syndrome has changed who I am, and how I see the world. It has given me perspective and empathy, love and resilience. It has brought me closer and strengthened my relationships with my children, wife, parents, family, friends and neighbours. It has shown me who will reach out when I need help, and who won’t, and importantly, it has taught me that needing and accepting help is not a sign of weakness.

By day, Ben runs Grassroots IT in Brisbane and by night, he transforms into Daddy-love. If he can squeeze any time in between his family and his business, he loves running, gardening and photography (when he can wrestle the camera from his wife’s hands ;).



Photo credit for first image: Kathy Corcoran.

Emily and Me: growing up with a sister who has Down syndrome {guest post}

Meeting Lucy was one of those Universe-conspiring moments. I stumbled upon her blog one night whilst feeding my baby and I immediately felt connected to her words, beautiful in their simplicity, describing life as a creative spirit and mother of two small girls. It wasn’t until later that I discovered Lucy has three sisters, one of whom has Down syndrome, and I realised we were both part of ‘the club’. Thank you Lucy and Emily for sharing stories of sisterhood here with us. I am honoured. ~ Annie x

L1060126My younger sister Emily is married, lives with her husband, works at a local café and has two fish. She and her husband also both have Down syndrome.

When we were teenagers Em used to ask me: “Do we look alike? Will I ever get married? Will I have babies? Will I be able to drive?” I used to fend off her questions: jolly her along with dreams of being an aunty to my children, to being so busy helping me that she wouldn’t possibly have time to do anything else. I look back now and think – how patronising.

While our family always told the world she could do anything she could dream up, secretly, behind hushed hands and whispered questions, we wondered if it were true. Not because she wasn’t capable. Because the world, and the people living in it, might not allow it.

As we grew up – four sisters – we all began to make choices as to which direction we wanted our lives to take. Emily was no different. She came to realisations about things she would like to try and do. And with some additional persistence, surrounded by her family and a great support team who truly believe in her potential and right to choose what she wants in life, choose she did. The day I stood at the front of the chapel as her Maid of Honour, and watched her walk down the aisle towards her future husband, I felt overwhelmed with a sense of righteousness and pride. I looked around at the teary-eyed faces of her closest friends and family – people who believe in her through thick and thin. Ultimately she makes things happen, by actively choosing and following certain paths, but the support of the people around her was, and is, absolutely immeasurable.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 12.06.43 pmI am so immune to her difference I forget that for some people it is amazing or wonderful or strange that she is married and works in a paid job.

Quite literally last week someone asked me: “So does she live at home with your parents?” When I stated that no, she lives with her husband, they were shocked. After some more discussion about her life I was surprised to hear, “Oh, that’s so sad.”

I didn’t know how to take it. I never think of her life as sad and thought it odd it might be seen this way. Some part of me actually preferred hearing a comment about sadness rather than the nervous, gushing, “Oh my god, she’s so cute!” I find it difficult to hear my sister reduced to a stereotypical image of a ‘cutie’ with Down syndrome cuddling inappropriately and dancing and loving music. (I have never actually met anyone who doesn’t like music… have you?) There was something real and honest about someone seeing an element of sadness, which is probably there if you look hard enough at anyone’s life.

A number of years ago Em asked me why things were so easy for me. We both cried and cried and I can’t remember what I said. But I’ll never forget her words: “How come we’re so different? Are we the same? Why is it so easy for you?”

I can’t tell her why things are the way they are. Although I know now she just needs me to listen. To listen and to act. To rally up the support needed. And with the right support, anything is possible.

This much is true.

My life is forever impacted having Emily as my sister. I am forever impacted. I don’t know who I would have been, who I am, if it wasn’t for her. And I can whole-heartedly thank her for that: for teaching me about difference, about values, about life.

Real life.

Em is now planning her next steps towards a career in childcare and we are behind her all the way. I asked her to share some of her thoughts about life, marriage and Down syndrome:

UnknownWhy did you want to get married?

I wanted to get married because I really love the man in my life and I’m so glad to have him. Being married gives me a lot more confidence. It’s a wonderful thing.

What would you tell other people with Down syndrome or other disabilities who wanted to live with someone they love?

I want to tell them: ‘Would you guys ever believe in love at first sight?’ And hopefully for most of them it will be yes. I did believe that one day I would find a guy I would want to marry, and he would be the man of my dreams.

What if they felt like they couldn’t live out their dreams? What would you say?

Well I might say that’s not true. Everybody can easily get married or do anything. I know they can. We just have to believe in each other. Also, if they want to get a job at a café or chemist or any kind of job they want to get – it’s their future.

Lucy is the mother of two small children and in between kinder drop-off and working part time at a not-for-profit, she occasionally finds the time to write. She is passionate about disability culture, community development, parenting, birth choices and simple living. She blogs at Notes for Emily and Motherwho. You can also find her on twitter @hellolucybain and instagram @motherwho.


Jahkai’s Rainbow {wordless wednesday}

KAi4 Kai3 Kai2 Lani

Kai1 Kai5 Kai6Today’s {wordless wednesday} photographs have been shot by Karlea, beloved wife and (very busy) Mum to three girls and two boys, including Jahkai who has Trisomy 21. The gorgeous Kai and his family have faced a number of serious health challenges in his life so far, but they face each day with tenacity and fierce, boundless love. Karlea often credits Kai for inspiring her to pursue her photography dream, and she has recently launched Voyage Photography.TTR31for21-5

Lessons from Reuben: what my son has taught me about life, Down syndrome and myself {guest post}

While Elisa and I have never met in person, from our very early interactions in an online forum, it was clear she is a woman who exudes love, warmth and empathy, a woman with a strong faith, and a woman devoted to her family. As it turns out, we are both mums to all boys and have exceptional taste in boys names ;) Elisa, thank you for sharing your heart with us here today. ~ Annie x


2010. Fourth pregnancy. I am 36 years old. After a bleed at ten-and-a-half weeks, I am told I have had a miscarriage…we grieve, but two days later, a heartbeat is found.

At nineteen weeks, we are told our baby is a boy, that he has a chromosomal abnormality, that it is most likely Trisomy 18, and that he will not live long after birth. We name him Reuben that day and vow to love him and hold him close as long as we can. Reuben means ‘to behold a son.’

At twenty weeks, we find out Reuben does not have Trisomy 18 but a diagnosis of Trisomy 21 (or Down syndrome) is confirmed. Trisomy 21 means there are three copies of chromosome 21 in every cell of Reuben’s body, rather than the typical two copies. A termination of our pregnancy is offered. We decline.

Over the next few months, we begin to grapple with the effect the extra chromosome is having on our son’s development.

I grieve the child I thought we were expecting, fiercely love the one moving inside me, choose to trust God through my tears with what I don’t understand, research like a crazy woman, grieve some more, and try not to fear the future.

At thirty-six weeks, Reuben arrives four weeks early.

There are more surprises, more diagnoses, more hospital visits and seemingly endless tests and scans. But life begins again…a new ‘normal.’

photo32014. Reuben is now three and a half years old and these are the lessons he has taught me…

Lessons Reuben has taught me about life:

Reuben has taught me about dreams…

When Reuben was diagnosed, so many dreams I had in my heart for him and for our future died. Life suddenly didn’t look like I had imagined it.

I realised in order to love Reuben wholeheartedly, I had to let go of the old dreams I had of the child and future I thought we were expecting and embrace all of him with his unexpected chromosome and all that entailed.

As I have grown with Reuben, he has helped me to fulfil many forgotten dreams I have held in my heart, and I now realise it is still possible to dream about the future…dreams like travelling overseas, fun family experiences, and Reuben being able to live independently can still happen.

Reuben has taught me the necessity of hope

Hope has kept me walking when my heart has been overwhelmed with fears of the future…fears of Reuben dying, fears of him getting seriously ill, fears of him not walking or talking. Hope keeps me believing that one day he will learn to jump and run, that he will be able to communicate effectively, that he will one day move out of home, that he will live a long life. And hope also helps me believe I will be ok and that my heart will not be overwhelmed by the ‘what-if’s’ of the future.

Reuben has taught me not to take anything or anyone for granted

During our pregnancy, we were told not only that our baby had miscarried but that Reuben would also probably die soon after birth. Thankfully neither of these predictions came to pass and we are eternally grateful he is here. Harder days are made easier when a choice of gratitude not grumbling is made.

On this journey, I have had the privilege of meeting families online whose little ones have become seriously ill and have passed away. Each of these children holds a special place in my heart. They have taught me to never take life or our children for granted and to be grateful for what we have.

Reuben has taught me to live in the moment – to live mindfully…

I have spent a lot my life fearing the future and not fully experiencing the present. I now realise life is to be lived not feared. I have learnt too that the root of my anxiety is the fear of more emotional pain. Pain may or may not happen, but there is no point missing the wonderful everyday moments of life fearing an uncertain future.

Reuben has taught me about love, grief and joy

These three emotions manage to co-exist in my heart, though as time passes, the feelings of love and joy grow stronger and those of grief are lessening. Reuben has taught me all emotions are valid and that I need to be gentle with myself as each one comes and goes.

I suspect grief will always be a part of this journey as I see Reuben experience areas of developmental delay alongside his typically developing peers, but deep love, overwhelming joy and great pride will always be present too as we celebrate the milestones he reaches.

Reuben has taught me God’s presence is very real

I understand not everyone shares a faith in God, but for me, God has faithfully carried me through some very dark and overwhelming moments. I know He is with me and will hold me no matter what the future has in store for Reuben, myself, or my other family members.

Reuben has taught me about living simply

One day during Reuben’s third trimester, I was feeling overwhelmingly concerned about the future, and was writing in my journal. I felt the need to write the words,

“Trust Me [God] and love Reuben.”

These two simple instructions, while sometimes easier said than done, changed my thought process and helped keep me grounded when my mind started racing too far ahead.

Lessons Reuben has taught me about Down syndrome and those with an intellectual disability:

Reuben has taught me what true beauty is all about…

True beauty has nothing to do with the outward appearance. No matter how a person looks, how responsive a person may be, or how many chromosomes they may have, that person is worthy of great love and a wonderfully fulfilling life.

Reuben has taught me never to compare him to anyone else…

Every person who has Down syndrome is an individual. They may have similar features or medical conditions, but no two individuals are the same. Each grows and develops at their own pace. I realise this may seem obvious, but Reuben has shown me that an individual who is developing at a seemingly slower pace has as much value as one who is reaching their milestones more quickly.

Reuben has taught me that communication is not just about words

Communication to me is about hearing and seeing the heart of a person and taking the time to listen to them, however they are able to communicate, so they feel understood. Communication may take place using words, gestures, sounds, facial expressions, sign language, communication cards or an assisted communication device like an iPad, all of which we are using with Reuben.

Reuben has taught me that every person with an intellectual disability deserves acceptance and respect

I wish I could say this wasn’t the case, but before I had Reuben, my attitude toward people with an intellectual disability was one of condescending tolerance. I did not see them as being equal to those without a disability or place much value on their lives. Reuben has helped me examine my own heart and has revealed the prejudices I didn’t realise I had.

Reuben has taught me the importance of connection with people on a similar path…

Friendships and support networks, both face to face and online, literally keep you walking when you feel like giving up. Hearing someone else say the words ‘me too’ is incredibly reassuring.

My journey with Reuben has taught me that doctors and medical professionals need to be listened to and respected but they are not always right… We were told many worst-case-scenarios throughout Reuben’s pregnancy, and none came to pass. And thanks to the advice of a good friend, I am learning not to cross any diagnosis-bridges before I have to.

Reuben has taught me that people with Down syndrome understand a great deal more than they are able to communicate…

and that they have a unique and wonderful sense of humour and way of seeing life. Reuben has brought great delight and laughter to our family, and has been nothing but a blessing to his brothers.

Reuben has reminded us of the importance of optimum health and nutrition

Like all of us, Reuben particularly needs to eat foods which will hopefully lead to a long and healthy life, without diseases like diabetes, obesity, or Alzheimers, which people with Down syndrome are more susceptible to. He has inspired me to reassess our family’s diet, to help give each of us the best possible future.

photo2Lessons Reuben has taught me about myself:

Reuben has taught me about the importance of looking after myself…

On a journey like this one, I am finally learning that looking after myself is not self-indulgent but is crucial for survival. If I am not functioning well, my children and home fall apart. For me, it’s about taking a mental break from being constantly responsible for Reuben’s needs, and those of the family.

I am learning to schedule some ‘me-time’ into my week, like I schedule in Reuben’s therapy appointments.

Reuben as taught me to be the playful, fun Mum I always wanted to be.

He has taught me to trust myself more and rely on the opinions and approval of others less.

He has helped me find my voice again, and has shown me that I can advocate on his behalf.

He has taught me that my worth as a mother does not lie in what my children can or cannot do…Reuben was unable to breastfeed, but that does not make me a failure as a mother.

Reuben is the most wonderful gift and I am forever grateful he is our son and part of our family.

Elisa, her husband and their four boys live in Tasmania. She has a Bachelor of Music and a Certificate IV in Christian Ministry and is currently a stay-at-home-mum and primary carer for their youngest son Reuben. For work experience in Grade 10, Elisa elected to spend two weeks in a Special School, never realising the journey she would find herself on many years later.