Whether it’s an official diagnosis, a worrying eating habit, or bullying at school, children throw endless challenges at us. So how do we find the strength in those moments to keep showing up and follow our instincts?
Tammy Reid’s mamahood journey has thrown many challenges at her. As a mama to three little girls, each child has brought it’s own challenges (as they do) but from the moment her second child was born, she knew that something was ‘different’. She spent years persisting with her instincts despite all the negative tests and dismissals of ‘normal behaviour’. Eventually, her mother’s intuition proved right, and her beautiful daughter was diagnosed with a condition that affects her motor skills. But in the process, Tammy uncovered her own strength – and herself.
“Becoming a mama was something I always had dreamed of. I came from a broken home – my Mum and Dad left me at my grandparents’ house when I was six months old, and growing up all I wanted was that nuclear family. My grandparents did an amazing job and I wouldn’t be who I am now without them, but I just wanted to have that Mum, Dad and children around me that I felt like I missed out on. I craved connection with my own children, and dreamed of raising little human beings and creating the happy family I always wanted.
However, I found pregnancy really hard! I enjoy being pregnant and connecting with the baby inside me, but everything else that came with it was really hard for me. The sickness, the tiredness, the questioning of everything. I remember looking at my daughter for the first time and being overwhelmed with this sense of having to now look after her – all those doubts of what if I do it wrong came up. Looking back now, though, I can see that I was very blessed with my first baby: she slept through the night at eight weeks old and the first year with her was everything I had dreamed of. I was thinking it was all so easy and we could definitely do it all again!
When my second child came along, she entered the world very unsettled. She would cry non-stop, she always seemed to be in a lot of pain, I would be up until 4 in the morning with her. We just knew something wasn’t quite right, and it become even more obvious as she grew older. As a teacher too, I could see that things were different with her – she was picking up cups the wrong way, she was tripping all the time, it was like her spacial awareness wasn’t right. It was so frustrating.
Everyone would just keep saying to me ‘she’s a normal one year old’, ‘she’s a normal two year old’, ‘she’s a normal three year old’, but my instincts were telling me something different.
She wasn’t giving us eye contact, she wouldn’t hug us, she couldn’t give us a high five. It was so frustrating. We felt like no-one was listening to us.
Eventually, we were finally prescribed melatonin to help her sleep. She just couldn’t sleep at night, she’d be anxious and jumpy and the melatonin was meant to help her sleep. I fought it for so long – I felt like I was drugging my child. But in reality, I was starting to lose my mind a little trying to get her to sleep every night. Eventually, things started to shift: she seemed calmer, she would sleep a little better overnight, she seemed better. But it wasn’t until we saw a particular pediatrician that we finally got the diagnosis of Dyspraxia – which is a delay in the development of their motor skills. It used to be called the ‘clumsy syndrome’, and it’s estimated that one or two children in every class probably has it, but undiagnosed.
“I really struggled at the beginning. Even though my instincts had told me that something wasn’t right, the reality of a diagnosis is very different. It’s really hard to hear. I went through a time of blaming myself – because my other two were so different, I started looking for what I had done wrong. Was it what I ate in the pregnancy? What had I done? I was so tired and overwhelmed. And I realised that while I was putting all my efforts into treatments for Jasmine, I needed to look after myself too. I started to see the kineseologist and naturopath for myself too. I had to – to keep myself balanced, to keep myself healthy.
My grandparents had been in survival mode with me. Although they did an amazing job, they were living on a pension and really struggled and all they wanted for me was to get to university and become a teacher. But I didn’t have someone telling me along the way ‘you can do it Tammy’.
I never had anyone tell me that I could do anything I set my mind to.
I was always told to watch out, be careful, think before you speak – I feel like I missed out on a lot of that, and had so many little insecurities along the way.
But with Jasmine – I’m right beside her. I am growing and learning with her how to overcome our insecurities and battle our fears. I’m learning with her that a label doesn’t define you, to find your own strength. We’re learning compassion and patience and how to support each other. I’m still fighting my own fears but with Jassy, we’re learning together.
I’ve learnt to trust myself, and that I can do anything.
Tammy is now supporting other parents and families on their journey of understanding and working with Dyspraxia. You can read all about it and get support on her website.