MEET THE BRAVE MUMS JUMPING OUT OF A PLANE FOR A GOOD CAUSE

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BY JESSICA BOSCO

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope. It’s a MotherJumper.

Make sure you keep your eyes on the skies this November because across Australia there will be brave mamas jumping out of planes to raise funds for COPE: Centre of Perinatal Excellence.

On November 10 and 11, mums – as well as dads/grandparents/friends – will be skydiving (or abseiling) at 17 drop zones across the country (including Melbourne, Brisbane, Wollongong, Newcastle, Byron Bay, Noosa, Cairns and Canberra) to mark the start of this year’s Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week.

Funds raised will go towards COPE’s advocacy to make screening available for all pregnant women and new mothers as recommended in Australia’s National Perinatal Mental Health Guideline.

“The invaluable support of all the jumpers and abseilers helps us get our message and programs out to more Australian families, and means we can identify and support those in need of information and treatment when they need it”, says COPE Executive Director, Dr Nicole Highet.

“With up to one in ten women experiencing depression in pregnancy – increasing to one in seven following birth – and even higher anxiety rates, this support is really important to increase our reach and effectiveness.

“Many women do not seek help for mental health problems early enough – our research shows that three out of four women don’t seek help until they reach crisis point”, Dr Highet added.

COPE is dedicated to improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of expectant parents before, during and the year after the birth of a baby. COPE aims to provide a realistic picture of parenthood and increase support by providing objective, factual information on when and where to get help.

We chatted with some of the brave mums who are taking the leap and becoming MotherJumpers this November about their own journey of motherhood and why they’ve decided to sign up. 

MOTHERJUMPER: Tamara Halliburton

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Can you share a little bit about your motherhood journey? 

I couldn’t wait to fall pregnant once we’d made the decision to start trying.  I imagined having a beautiful big belly and I would be beaming with happiness and excitement about our pending arrival.  And I was that way for a week after finding out I was pregnant, but then I was hit with incredible morning sickness from that point onwards. I became restless at night and my swollen nose meant I snored like a truck. My husband and I had to sleep in separate rooms for months, which created a distance between us that neither of us could have expected. I thought it would all get better once our son arrived.

That wasn’t to be.  It was a traumatic birth, we almost lost our son on day 3 from an infection (which required us to be separated as he was in Special Care), and then he took 9 weeks to get back to birth weight. Breastfeeding didn’t quite work out as I had planned because I physically wasn’t able to produce enough milk to exclusively feed him (which was always very important to me). All of this added up to my mental health taking a serious dive.

I obsessed about my son’s safety. I experienced rage, beyond anything I could have imagined if my son was put in any perceived danger (and I say perceived because it was anything as silly as my husband putting a nappy on “too tight”). My marriage began to deteriorate because my husband couldn’t understand me anymore. I genuinely believed that if I told the truth about what was going through my head, someone would take my baby away.

Throughout my first year as a parent, I felt broken, isolated and I believed I was a terrible mum. How else could I explain sleepless nights picturing all the ways my son could be harmed or killed? How else could I explain feeling suicidal after giving birth to such a beautiful little boy? Eventually, during a routine appointment with my GP, I broke down from the weight of it all. I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety and referred to a psychologist. I was so surprised to learn that I was not alone and how common all of this was.

My son is nearing two and we’re in a much better place now, but it was quite the journey to get here.

What made you decide to become a MotherJumper? 

Because I love what COPE is all about. People forget that just because having a child common, it doesn’t make it easy. Parents need care, guidance, support and understanding. As a society, I think we need to do better.  If I can do something to help that effort, then why wouldn’t I get on board?

Have you ever skydived before?

I have, about 7 years ago. I had met my husband 6 weeks prior and already had the jump booked in. I’ll never forget that when I kissed him goodbye to board the plane, he looked at me like he was never going to see me again.  Poor guy lol.

How are you feeling about the jump?

Really excited! I feel like I’ve fallen into a but of a rut in terms of ‘fun’ since becoming a mum, so this is the first thing that I’ve done for myself.  I’m also feeling really proud to be a part of something so special.

What do you hope the jump will achieve?

I’m hoping that COPE will receive enough funds to get their newsletter into the inbox of every new and expectant parent to help them in their parenthood journey. Even if it means that one parent doesn’t go through what I did, then it will be worth it.

Who will be there cheering you on, on the day?

My husband (Andrew) and my son (Lloyd).  I’m also jumping with my friend Rhyse, so her husband and son will also be there.  But hopefully, we’ll be jumping with other MotherJumpers on the day so that we can all cheer each other on.

MOTHERJUMPER: Marissa McCartney

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Can you share a little bit about your motherhood journey? 

From my late teen years, I have suffered off and on with bouts of depression and with anxiety – when I became a mum in 2013 – it intensified.

My pregnancy was monitored closely. My son had stopped growing at 32 weeks. The doctors suspected this was due to intrauterine growth restriction.

I was then put on monitors 3 times a week in hospital with no phone reception hours at a time – Alone. My husband Shane would work, as there was no point in both of us sitting around feeling frustrated. I’d then rush back to my own full-time job after each session.

It was nerve-racking not to mention exhausting not knowing what the outcome would be.

I’d come home from work and be on bed rest. I was then induced at 37 weeks when the Doctors decided that the baby would thrive better earth side, Taylor was born – and he was perfectly healthy and thriving. Just tiny!

Being a stay home Mum was much more lonely than I expected. I missed the adult interaction from work.

When I think back I recall feeling like I needed someone to watch me watch the baby.

I definitely wasn’t prepared mentally and emotionally for the struggles of feeding and returning to work 6 months later. I would pump at work because the daycare couldn’t get him to drink the formula. It was a testing battle. I was worn out. I breastfed my son until he was just over 3 years old… we went on our first trip away from him in March 2017 – our honeymoon!

What made you decide to become a MotherJumper? 

With my son starting school next year, and another chapter about to begin, I feel now is the perfect time to step out of my comfort zone for a cause I feel so strongly about.

What do you hope the jump will achieve?

I am absolutely thrilled to be jumping with my fellow #motherjumpers to raise awareness for COPE so that support can continue to be available for those who are struggling with the emotional challenges of being and becoming a parent.

Have you ever skydived before? How are you feeling about the jump?

This will be my very first Sky Diving experience. I am absolutely terrified of falling, and I also have a fear of birds (don’t ask… haha), but surprisingly I am really excited to face my fear head on – and why not do it for such a great cause?!

Who will be there cheering you on, on the day?

My husband Shane, and my son Taylor will be there cheering me on, along with a few extra family and friends. I cannot wait to see Taylor’s face light up.

For more information on COPE or to become a MotherJumper (or donate to the cause) click here.