My name is Bron and I am the proud mother to Cooper (12) Pepper (9) and Woody (5) . We live in Melbourne, Australia and we are slightly obessed with travel! The reason being because travel takes us away from routine and enables us to explore the world and learn about each other and connect with many other people and cultures. We started a blog highlighting inclusive and accessible tourism and we share all our travels hoping to inspire all types of families to get out and explore even if its just for a day. Going somewhere different, challenging yourselves, stepping away from what you are used to really helps you connect with each other and others!
Welcome Bron & Cooper
Natalie: How did your journey begin with Cooper? (what was going on through your mind and heart during this time)
Bron: Andrew and I were thrilled to find out we were pregnant with Cooper and I think I did about 5 tests as I couldn’t believe it. We had just bought our first home together and thought it may take a while so had planned a trip to Vietnam but instead fell pregnant quickly so plans changed! Cooper was born the day after his due date 12 years ago! Even though it was 12 years ago it often feels like yesterday as I can still remember the smell, the voices, the sirens, the Code whatever being shouted across the speakers. Cooper was born white, with no heart rate and terrible apgar scores, the medical team said he had a 30% chance of surviving the night. He survived and we never forget that not even for a moment.
Natalie: What is the name of the condition(s) that Cooper has? Can you share with us a little more about it?
Bron: Cooper has a brain injury from the birthing process. It is labelled as Cerebral Palsy and his type is called Dystonic CP and its termed moderate. It affects all four limbs and his whole body really so its classed as quadriplegia.
Natalie: What are some words to describe Cooper? What do you love about him?
Bron: Immediately the words that spring to mind are strong willed, demanding, individual, passionate, thoughtful and hard work! I love that he is willing to try anything, he’s very confident with who he is and where he wants to go in this world. He has a very healthy self esteem and he really drove our family to step outside our comfort zone.
Natalie: Siblings of children with additional needs are phenomenal in accepting differences, what have been some if your favourite moments or examples of this?
Bron: Pepper who is now 9 has always been a supportive sister. She supports and encourages yet doesn’t take away his independence. She teaches everyone we meet how to engage with Cooper because they follow her lead. She understands his speech better than anyone and is alway seen to help translate.
Woody (5) is no doubt less empathetic but it strikes a good balance in our family. Woody treats Cooper as a typical brother and is not afraid to wrestle with him or tell him exactly how it is!
Natalie: I love how you share that ‘travel allows us to challenge ourselves, push ourselves and prove what we are capable of anything if we just try it’- what have been your biggest travel achievements, and then some of your toughest moments?
Bron: Without a doubt our biggest achievement was exploring Asia for 11 weeks. We engaged with 5 countries, took 11 flights and really learnt so much about other countries but more about ourselves and how we work as a family. The toughest moments are always the best! When we hike up stairs carrying Coop and we get to the top! It gives us such a thrill to be doing it together.
Natalie: I’m passionate about the (special needs/medical needs) and self care connection. Raising a child with a medical condition or diagnosis can bring some big challenges, how do you cope? Are there any self care practices that helped you on your journey?
Bron: Honestly I am really bad with putting myself first at all. I find it really hard to dedicate time just for me. Andrew encourages it as much as he can but for some reason I am a bit hesitant. I actually think it has something to do with not really knowing who I am without being a Mother. A work in progress!
Natalie: What advice would you give a mum who is beginning her journey after receiving her child’s diagnosis?
Bron: This is a long journey so connect with people who are going to support you and see your child not the disability. Don’t be afraid to speak up if a particular professional/therapist/teacher is not /connecting/getting you and your child. Take time out away from medical/therapy things and just be. After Cooper was born his neurologist said “ go home and enjoy your baby” which was hard because you want to try and do everything but it was good advice to just take one day at a time.
Natalie: What are some lessons and blessings you have learnt since becoming Cooper’s mum?
Bron: I have learnt to be more flexible and to enjoy each day. I have learnt that life is too short to worry about silly things and that adventure is the best way for our family to connect and support each other. I have learnt that a child, a single child can really change a family. After Cooper was born our extended families became much closer and we all became to see and delight in the small things around us. I have also met so many people while travelling and online in a world I never knew existed before I had Cooper. Cooper has enabled us to really see outside ourselves and step out of our routine and explore the world.
If you would like to share your miracle moments and special needs journey, please get in touch here.
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