About Me

“I would love to have Martine part of our next pregnancy if it was to happen.
She has turned a very overwhelming situation to one full of joy. I truly believe Martine was hugely responsible for such a positive experience.”

– A.Client

Motherhood is the hardest, best and most rewarding job I have ever had. It is my heart’s desire to meet you wherever you are on your motherhood journey, encourage you and support you as you figure out how to do motherhood your way and help you embrace the joy and everyday miracle of motherhood.

I have met so many mothers who have struggled way too much and wished away different parts of their motherhood journey. I so desperately want them to experience motherhood with the same enjoyment and fulfillment as I have. Last year (2019) I made the decision to channel my passion for motherhood into becoming a postpartum doula and provide much needed love and support to new mums.

Hi and welcome to the story of how I arrived here –as a postpartum doula. As a mother I have lived through a still birth and am now mothering a vibrant four-year-old.

The darling Mary Poppins suggests that to start at the very beginning is a very good place to start ;-)so there we shall…

I was born in December 1979. Second child and first daughter to an English Professor, writer and exceptional father and a mother not cut out for motherhood.

I grew up in Namibia, a desert country north of South Africa. My parents divorced when I was 3 years old. We soon became a blended family with two step brothers and two half-brothers. My older brother and I were raised by a little village of sorts; my mother and step-father and father and step mother – both a blessing and sometimes a curse. A discombobulated existence, if I’m honest, but it forged an early and deep desire to nurture, care and protect.

I was six years old and in my first year of school… every year, the school magazine published a feature about all first-grader hopes and dreams. What do you want to be, when you grow up? My reply, word for word: “I want to be a nurse – I don’t mind if people bleed” ?!? So the scene was set. It didn’t really change until I worked out that “being a mum” was an option.

When I turned 13, the relationship with my mother became exponentially harder. We struggled to communicate and a loving mother-daughter bond genuinely seemed out of reach. So much so that I had just about sworn never to become a mother. At 16, I left home for boarding school in South Africa. My plan was still to study nursing – my paternal grandmother was a nurse too – and a great one.

What followed next was my first adult experience in adaptability. For a number of reasons, I was unable to study nursing so I launched Plan B – Childcare. A great plan B. I studied fulltime for a year before embarking on my first epic nannying adventure – in Sydney, Australia. My charges were a super cute 3yr old girl and her newborn, baby brother who suffered from silent reflux. The 6 months that followed presented steep learning curves. At the tender age of 20, I had a pretty good idea what it was like to take full time care of an unwell newborn baby. I’m still in touch with them – they are now 23 and 20. After 6 months, it was time to return home, except that Australia was now my home. I couldn’t wait to return.

I continued nannying in South Africa for the next 5 years. Establishing permanent bonds with some families. One of my charges was only 4 months old when I started looking after her and is now almost 18. I’m still in regular contact with this incredible family and am looking forward to this wonderful young woman spending her ‘gap’ time with us next year. At 40 I feel SO old as I write this.

Duncan, Mia and Me

I also married my childhood sweetheart during that time. I was married for a year when the AMAZING opportunity to emigrate to Australia became available and we grabbed it with both hands. I was home. I changed careers and worked in a corporate office, learning, growing and acquiring skills I never needed as a nanny. Go big or go home, right?!?

Emigration is no easy feat and our marriage did not survive. I was about to learn a whole lot more about how life doesn’t always go according to plan and also about breathing deeply and trusting that just because life wasn’t going my way, did not mean that something mind-blowingly amazing wasn’t in store.

A short while after the dust had settled, I met my soulmate and love of my life, Duncan, and his two teenage children. What can I say? “The heart has its reasons that reason knows not” – Blaise Pascal. This inspiring and incredible man and I were married within 3 years and after 2 rounds of IVF, were expecting our first baby a few months after our first wedding anniversary. I was the most extreme version of ecstatic you could imagine. I WAS GOING TO BE A MUM!!

By this stage in my life, I had analysed (and analysed some more) every aspect of my relationship with my mother and her relationship with me. I maintain that perhaps she was not cut out to be a mother but acknowledge the (VERY) long line of dysfunctional mothering that exists in my family and that perhaps she just didn’t know any better. Of course, to state the obvious, if she wasn’t a mother – I wouldn’t be here.

I was determined to learn more, know more, be more. I was going to break the chain of mothering that hurt more than it healed… and I was ready.

This next chapter is by far the most devastating of my entire existence but is also one that has changed me in ways that nothing else ever could.

My family and other animals

On 2 December 2014 I delivered our stillborn son, Leo, at 21 weeks. This is an extract from my journal entry the next day:

“I woke up just after midnight last night and haven’t managed to go back to sleep. Feeling such deep, profound sorrow and I don’t know how to be here. I can’t breathe and can’t seem to imagine that the pain could ever subside.

I’ve looked at photos of Leo and he looks different to what I remember from yesterday…. Yesterday when I held him, he looked perfect to me and so peaceful, but in the photos somehow he looks so frail and not nearly as perfect. My neck barely feels strong enough to support the weight of my head, nor my chest cavity strong enough to hold the weight of my heart. Everything hurts and I wonder if I will ever run out of tears … I suppose eventually, I just desperately wish eventually would come sooner. I wish I could just sleep for as long as it took to heal and wake up with my heart intact again and my soul restored.

I am grateful for Duncan who has not left my side … and for everything I had to experience in my life to get to him. Grateful too that somehow I am worthy of his love and devotion.”

I am so grateful for my wonderful Dad and for his support throughout my life, especially now. I graciously accept his invitation to bring my heartache to him, knowing that I am loved and cherished.”

There is no other way to put it… the grief was crippling.

My husband and I were incredibly blessed to have each other and amazing, comprehensive support from the bereavement team at the Mater Mother’s Hospital…

The world kept turning and time marched on… At first, without me, and eventually I was brave enough to hop back on but not before delving into the very depths of my grief and slowly working my way back up.

In September 2015, we had another successful IVF transfer. I was overjoyed – or was I? I was terrified. I was sure my heart could not survive losing another baby. It was a physically easy and uncomplicated pregnancy but one filled with anxiety and disconnect until the end of my second trimester. I could not wait to exhale. To exhale and meet my precious rainbow baby girl. I knew that all that anxiety would melt away as soon as I held her safely in my arms.

The following April Mia was born at 38 weeks – happy and healthy and my soul was complete BUT if I thought I was free of anxiety, I was much mistaken. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Now that I had this LONG-awaited miracle in my arms, what would I do if anything ever happened to her?

I had so much to learn about being a mum, about managing my anxiety and about choosing to live with joy instead of fear. I chose to breastfeed but had no idea how hard that would be. As natural as it was, it would not come naturally to either of us. With perseverance and support, I breastfed Mia for 11 months. My daughter literally filled every part of me with an abundance of peace, love, joy and a feeling of coming home. I have loved being a mum a squillion times more than I thought I would.

Over the next 4 years I learned more about myself, about resilience, strength, perseverance, giving and loving than I’d learned in all the years of my life before. I have learned that “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin.D.Roosevelt.

I have learned to value my story and the wisdom I have gained to be the very best mother I can be but to keep my story separate from the blank pages of my daughter’s story.

I have learned to be present. I have learned that there are great days and less great days and that there is always something to be grateful for – and usually many somethings. I have learned that “this too shall pass” is a helpful mantra for the less great days.

I acknowledge daily, the unwavering love and support of my beautifully grounded husband who gifted me the doula course. His encouragement is the backbone of this mother and of this doula.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.”
– Jill Churchill