In 2000, Mandy began working at QEC Early Parenting Centre. She helped struggling families learn sleep, settling and communication skills in the Day Stay and 5-Day Residential Program. She also undertook a Parenting Assessment and Skills Development role, which involved assessing the skills and protective capacity of parents reported to Child Protection. Mandy also worked in a successful home visiting and playgroup program for isolated new migrant mums from Afghan and Sudanese backgrounds. At QEC, Mandy honed her skills in helping families get through the tough times in a warm, supportive and judgment-free style.
In 2005, Mandy’s life changed forever after giving birth to twin girls at only 31 weeks gestation. The twins spent a combined two months in both Neonatal Intensive Care and the Special Care Nursery. This unexpected early birth sent shockwaves through Mandy, her husband Darren and their extended family and friends. Mandy spent many fretful, anxious nights at home separated from her babies. When the girls were finally ready to come home, Mandy was already exhausted, traumatised and incredibly stressed.
When the twins were ten months old, one was diagnosed with Right Hemiplegia Cerebral Palsy. Mandy was plunged straight into a deep, unrelenting sadness and grief for her innocent baby, brain damaged through no fault of her own.
When the twins were 2 and a half years old, her other twin was eventually diagnosed with Left Hemiplegia Cerebral Palsy. Although her condition was far milder, Mandy became sad and anxious yet again. Despite everything, she kept on going managing two demanding toddlers and countless medical appointments, while also trying her best to maintain all her relationships.
Eventually, Mandy sought out counselling and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She continued with counselling for over two years, which she says ‘saved her life’. Mandy soon felt strong enough to give birth to another baby, this time a straightforward singleton arriving full-term – healthy and strong. This sweet little bub ‘mended her heart’ and gave Mandy the ability to love all babies again.