I had such an overwhelming response to my strong women series that I’ve decided to continue, to share the stories of more amazing women.

It never ceases to amaze me how many strong women there are. And Natalie is one that I’m closer to. I’ve known Natalie for years. We used to go drinking and dancing together in our early twenties, looking back on it, those days seem so carefree now.

But it soon got serious. Natalie’s been through so much in past 10 years. This isn’t Natalie’s whole story but in February last year Natalie gave birth to Charlee. Charlee was born with a cleft palette but there was something else wrong. And when Charlee was 3 months old she was diagnosed with Mobieus Syndrome. Mobieus Syndrome is a vary rare neurological disorder effecting only 1 in 500,000 children. It impacts the 6th and 7th cranial nerves so the simple things we take for granted Charlee finds difficult to do like eating and smiling. She’s also has hypotonia, floppy muscles, which affects her movement and motor skills. And not only that this unique little ray of light has just one kidney. She really is amazing.

Natalie’s a Mum of two, she has an older daughter Darcy as well. I know as a Mum of two how difficult it can be juggling life with children. And I just can’t imagine what it must be like for Natalie.

I was sitting in the car with Natalie the other day and she said this to me:

“Bring it on. I feel like life’s thrown so much at me that I can deal with anything now.”

And even though Natalie said this, I know she’s stronger than she thinks she is.

I asked Natalie to share her story with us, and hopefully it will inspire and help other Mums out there.

How did everything feel when Charlee was born?

I felt like I was in a bubble soon after Charlee was born. In a split second everything had changed, I felt like I was grieving the baby I thought I would have and had been given another. I found it hard to bond, I didn’t automatically have that overwhelming love you are supposed to have. I felt numb, I remember feeling like someone had literally broken my heart. It physically hurt. I went to bed every night wishing I would wake up and everything be different, of course it didn’t. I went through so many different emotions all the while trying to be strong for my family, especially my other little girl.

What has got you through the most darkest days?

There has been so many dark days, the early days especially. I remember thinking that there was never going to be any light at the end of the tunnel but slowly it began to shine. Several things keep me going, if we are having a bad day, I always think ‘tomorrow is a new day.’ I try and surround myself with positive people. I chose very carefully who I spend time with. We try and laugh and have a happy household.

Having the best partner in the world who is the best daddy to my girls also helps. We bounce off each other, We do everything concerning Charlee together, luckily we agree. We keep going, no matter how tired we are.

My other daughter, Darcy, keeps me going, she has the biggest heart and really is a ray of sunshine to have around. She makes me smile just by being herself. We really are lucky that she has taken the situation so well. She asks questions of course, but she never complains she just gets on with it.

But the biggest thing that keeps me going is Charlee, she is so brave. She try’s so hard at everything, her determination keeps me going. Her big blue eyes looking back at me full of love are what keep me going. After all, this is all about her, not me. I’m just doing what any mummy would do that wants the best for her children. You love them unconditionally.

What’s been your biggest lesson from what you’re going through?

I’m still trying to figure this one out! I guess never presume your life will turn out how you always dreamt it would be. I’ve had to become a more patient person, this is something I am still working on! I’ve also entered a new world of the children’s hospital. I’ve become an expert in my child’s condition. I’ve learnt to speak up and fight for whats best for her. I’ve learnt to challenge and question and always go with my gut feeling.

How are you different now that you’ve experienced what you have?

I feel I could take on the world now, I feel like nothing else could break me like this has. I’ve become stronger as a person. I feel like I have a bigger heart now, I feel the pain of other people going through similar things.

What would you say to someone going through what you’re going through?

The old cliché of it gets easier in time is true to a certain extent. I prefer to say that you learn to deal with the challenges that you are faced with. Things that seem totally impossible in the early days become your normal. I look back on our journey so far and am amazed at what we have achieved. I never felt I could leave the house this time last year and attend all the appointments Charlee has, now I take them all in my stride.

Your last word …

Parenthood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you’d thought you’d have. It’s about understanding your child is exactly the person they are meant to be. And, if you’re lucky, they might be the teacher who turns you into the person you’re supposed to be. – The Water Giver

Natalie and her partner Steve made a promise that they would do everything they could to give Charlee the best possible life. Earlier this year they took Charlee to America for treatment that has already changed her life.  They’re now raising money to take Charlee back for more treatment, you can donate here.

Nicky Duffell
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Nicky Duffell

Nutritional Therapist

‘Look after yourself first and then you’ll have the energy for everything else’

Nicky is a registered nutritional therapist who takes an integrative approach that works on both the body and the mind. She’s passionate about teaching women (and Mums) to look after themselves first, so that they can be there for their children and have the energy for whatever life has in store.

Nicky qualified from The Institute for Optimum Nutrition in 2009 and is registered with The British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT), and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

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