Judith Maechler (left) and Katrina Edmunds facilitate the Radiance Margaret River group, a casual catch up of mums every Thursday morning from 10 to 11:30am. Picture: Supplied.
It’s the first Thursday of February, summer school holidays have come to an end.
Just like every household in town with young kids, it’s busy.
While our first child is making the transition from pre-primary to year 1, the second one is upgraded to the “Big Kids Room”.
They are proud and excited!
Likewise, I have some excitement of my own on that day.
I even find myself enjoying packing the kid’s lunch boxes. I know, hardly believable! I cannot wait to put on my Radiance tee; the vibrant colours of the logo reflect my mood and I just feel really proud.
My son tells me he loves my new T-shirt, and I reply excitedly “Mum’s starting a new job today, helping other mums like me”.
And so the first Radiance meeting was held in Margaret River, which Katrina Edmunds and I have the privilege to facilitate.
Radiance South West is a not-for-profit organisation launched six years ago by an amazing team of dedicated women Anne McKay and Carly-Jane Heins, who were determined to improve the support of women and families in the postpartum period after noticing a significant gap in our region.
Now, there’s a variety of groups and programmes available, including peer-led support groups, the Mother Baby Nurture program and First 1000 days playgroups, running in Busselton, Collie, Bunbury, Dunsborough and more recently, Margaret River.
After the birth of my first baby, I experienced serious postpartum anxiety, brought on by a combination of general anxiety, significant life stressors and the demands of having a new baby.
Later, I felt driven to support other mothers, to help prevent others going through the same ordeal I had experienced, so in 2018 I enrolled in a pilot program called The Mummy Buddy Program.
Another baby, many busy days and sleepless nights later, I get a few amazingly quiet minutes in the shower (my “quiet, thinking time”), and it occurs to me that instead of feeling frustrated that no peer-support group exists in town, maybe I could start one.
One week later, I stumble across a post on a women’s community Facebook page.
A lovely lady, Helen Melville, has had the same idea after paying Radiance a visit in Busselton.
I reach out to Helen, and we organise a meeting with the managers and team members from Radiance and Erin Statz from Mindful Margaret River.
From this meeting the wheels were in motion to bring the Radiance group to Margaret River, leading to my excitement on that day in February this year.
Katrina, Deborah (our amazing volunteer) and I meet with mums every Thursday morning from 10 to 11:30am.
It’s very casual; we watch the little ones play while we chat around a cup of tea, some fruit and a few treats.
Women talking with women, about the demands of motherhood, the little (and sometimes bigger) obstacles along the way which have made us sometimes anxious, sometimes depressed and a lot of times happy.
The magic of talking and sharing is amazing. Katrina always says “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
And she is so right. We talk things out, and the burden does not seem so difficult to bear by ourselves.
Mums can come to the group once, or for the whole term. We want to encourage mums to come early, before they push themselves too far and reach crisis point. Prevention is key!
Radiance prefers a professional referral (from a nurse, child health nurse, midwife, GP… whoever one feels comfortable to ask), and does not aim to replace other professional help.
Instead, it is another form of relief, the comforting sensation of being understood, supported, and not alone.
With Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day coming up, Radiance will be hosting an open morning tea session at Playgroup at the Community Resource Centre on Thursday 5 May.
Midwives, nurses, GP and other professionals will be joining us to catch up very casually. If you wish to find out about Radiance, now is the right time!
So, now you understand my excitement! Meeting like-minded people is always thrilling.
Thinking of a project and being a part of its growth and realisation feels amazing. But as I said above, it’s not about us.
It is just a wonderful relief to know that help is now available, and local mums can access the support they need.
So, on that first Thursday, I come home to my partner, proudly flaunting my Radiance tee with the biggest smile on my face and a full heart.
“How was it?” he asks.
“One mother came. “
“Are you disappointed?”
“No! It’s amazing! We’ve done it. We have helped at least one person.”
And that, alone, is the best feeling in the world.
Mindful Margaret River is an alliance of mental wellbeing professionals, government agencies and community members aimed at promoting health and wellbeing in the AMR Shire. Mindful Margaret River is funded by Lotterywest and supported by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. Find out more on our website mindfulmargarteriver.org.au and follow us on Facebook.
First published in the Augusta Margaret River Mail 25 April 2022