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Mind

Busting the super-mum myth: This trio is on a mission to support mums with depression

Conquering the baby blues is their cup of tea!

By Julie Jacobson
Kat Gee was on a plane with her baby daughter when she suddenly broke down in tears.
She'd been on a photoshoot for her jewellery brand, Kagi − a business she'd built from humble beginnings at the kitchen table and which had become a household name, stocked by hundreds of stores in New Zealand and Australia.
Its Hope range had even raised almost $30,000 for child cancer.
"I'd been up late racing around getting clothes and styling the shoot and Ayla was awake all night teething," the 38-year-old tells.
"I was exhausted and strung out. I sat on the plane holding my baby girl and cried and cried."
She was a woman who, prior to having children, had thought nothing of working 70-plus hours a week and who reckoned running a business and motherhood would be a snip.
That was two years ago.
Kat sold the business last year and is now a stay-at-home mum to Xavier (4) and two-and-a-half-year-old Ayla.
But once an entrepreneur always an entrepreneur!
Kat, along with four other Christchurch "kindy" mums, is now on a mission to promote mental wellbeing.
Teaming up with well-known local potter Tatyanna Meharry and Plunket, they have created "Mummy Mugs", with all proceeds going towards supporting mothers battling postnatal depression.
"We wanted to create something together that was meaningful and would encourage others to share their stories," tells Kat.
"We felt mugs were the perfect vessel − excuse the pun − to do that."
All proceeds from the sale of mugs go to Sumner Kindy and Plunket.
Given the large mug of tea she has on the go every day, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, perhaps the ultimate working mum, was also a source of inspiration for the team.
The close-knit group, who have 10 gorgeous toddlers between them, have all had their own post-baby blues journey.
"As mums we understand the chaos of kids and the importance of finding some 'me time' moments throughout the day," she says.
"Our goal is not just to raise funds for Plunket, but to start a conversation about mums' mental health and postnatal depression. We hope that by sharing our experiences we are able to shine a light on another mum's darkness.
"Mums are more and more being pulled in all directions," Kat continues.
"We're just rushing from one thing to the next. You never feel like you are winning or even getting ahead. I felt overwhelmed for a long time. I was constantly guilty, tired and stressed. I felt like a failure as both an entrepreneur and as a mother.
"It surprised me that life could change so dramatically from what it was like pre-kids. Trying to hold on to my old life wasn't feasible. I had two years of no sleep. I was snappy… I couldn't think straight. I remember once answering the phone only to realise I was talking to a glass of water! I realised then that the super-mum myth was just that."
Amy Wallace, mum to Lila (3) and Jaxon (20 months) has a similar story.
The 34-year-old former police officer knows first-hand how tough becoming a mum can be, and also how isolating it can be as a new parent, particularly if you choose not to go back to work straight away.
"It is challenging, emotionally and physically, it can wear you down… especially if you are consumed at looking how others are parenting or what society says is the right thing to do."
Raising awareness of post-natal depression normalises a "very real, raw and vulnerable time in many parents' lives", she says.
They're little treasures, of course, but life with Jaxon and Ayla (or any kids really) can be chaotic, their mums say.
Fiona Ward (37) was recognised as being at high risk for postnatal depression after the traumatic birth of her wee boy Lincoln, now four-and-a-half.
A client manager at a recruitment agency, she has since had another baby – daughter Dakota – but says she was extremely grateful for the support she received following Lincoln's birth.
"I know from personal experience that postnatal depression doesn't discriminate. No-one is immune. I was lucky enough to be part of the Plunket programme where I had a specialist nurse come to my house every six weeks and work one-on-one with me to bond with Linc, and check how I was doing. It helped me immensely."
The group, including other mums Jo Cook and Jennifer Spencer, each have their own self-help rituals to ease stress, whether it's 5am gym sessions, a run or lunch, sans children.
Kat laughs, "Having said that it's chaos trying to organise anything, because we are trying to work around sleep schedules, kindy drop-offs, kindy pick-ups, and when we do catch up there's usually a couple of toddlers roaming around tipping out their lunch boxes or feeding the dog.
It's a miracle we've actually all been able to be in the same place at one time and get something done."
However, producing the ceramic mugs − each handmade by Tatyanna, a double World of Wearable Art supreme award winner, and featuring sand from Sumner beach – has been a labour of love, and one they hope will allow other mums to "have some me time, even if it's just five minutes for a cuppa."
Originally released in limited batches and only available in Canterbury due to the logistics and cost of packing and postage, Kat says she is looking forward to taking Mummy Mugs nationwide in 2020.

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