I was born and raised in Southern California. I spent a lot of time on vacations to Mexico with my family at the beach! I have one younger sister and a lot of cousins. I grew up playing soccer and softball amongst many other sports that I tried out for fun - for a little bit I was into BMX biking. My best friend and I growing up were always doing some sort of arts and crafts, I recall one of the times when we picked some roses from my yard and made our very own "perfume" that lasted about a day before it lost its pretty scent and went yuck!
You have recently moved to New Zealand from America. What brought you here and how are you finding it so far?
Yep we made the big leap! My husband is from Hamilton where most of his family still lives. I've visited a few times previously and have always loved the family aspect as well as support. I grew up close to all my cousins and I want that for my babies too! It's also been so nice being surrounded by family who are able to help us when we need it! We're loving it so far. My older two are in daycare half the day and love going, it's also opened up a lot of time for me to have alone with my sweet baby girl which I haven't had before! I'm also loving that my babies are fully immersed into their Māori culture here, it's been so fun for them. I've even started Te Reo classes to learn more as well.
Your babies are stunning, we’re obsessed! How did you choose their names?
Oh my gosh, thank you! They're my world! My son's name Te Kanawa Rex is a family name. Te Kanawa is from my husband's side. Rex is my grandpa's name. My middle daughter's name Kōhia Ivy came to us when we were looking up words in the Māori dictionary lol. Kōhia means passion fruit, and we just loved how it sounded. And then my baby girl's name Raia Goldie is a family name as well! We took Raia from one of my husband's ancestor's names Wairaia, and then Goldie is my great great aunt!
You have been very open about your daughter Kōhia’s experience with bilateral clubfoot. What has the treatment process been like for her? Do you have any advice for parents who may be on this journey too?
I love spreading awareness about clubfoot! Her treatment started when she was just a week old. It consisted of a series of casts that went all the way up to the top of her thighs. The Dr. would mould her foot slowly into the correct position with each cast. It took 6 casts to get her feet into the right position. With her last set of casts, they actually did a small surgery where they cut both her achilles tendons so that they could lengthen as they healed. After that process, she graduated to the bnb (boots and brace) wearing it 23 hours a day. That gave us 1 hour a day to give her a bath and let her feet breathe! After about 3 months of that, she moved into night time wear which is 12-14 hours a day. She'll finish that up when she's 4 or 5!
My advice for parents experiencing a similar journey is that it is COMPLETELY worth it!! The beginning is the hardest part, but it gets so much easier. And then the day comes when they take their first steps and it's the greatest joy watching it happen after all that hard work. Be consistent as hard as it is sometimes, one day they'll thank you.
We were interested to learn you grew up without knowing who your biological father was - and that you have recently connected with him. Would you mind sharing how this happened and how the experience has been for you?
Yes! So my entire life, I never knew who my biological father was. My mom was young and made silly decisions that got her pregnant and because she was under the influence of alcohol, she had no recollection of who the guy was or any information about him. So that was that. My mom was adopted by a wonderful family and were all extremely close. But because of that, I had no idea what my ethnicity was, so I figured I'd do the Ancestry DNA test to learn a bit more about myself! I got it back and learned that I was a lot of british, viking, french, and a few other things and had a ton of 5th, 6th, and 7th cousins whom I wasn't really interested in connecting with. About 5 years later, I got a notification that I had a new DNA match, and that it was someone of sibling relation! I freaked out, then I messaged her and explained my situation and asked for info. She gave me her dad's name, so I researched him on facebook and instagram like any sane person lol. I sent him a message explaining everything and just flat out said "I think you might be my biological father". He responded and had no idea who my mom was, but said that the story of the place lined up with where he was at in California at that time. After some logical thinking, we both agreed that it was probably true! So he did his Ancestry DNA and it came back that he is my biological father!! Because he had no idea about me, he has been fully invested in having a relationship with me as his daughter, we've had many visits and it's been amazing. He's a wonderful man and his wife is amazing!
What is the best parenting advice you have received?
That I may not be perfect, but I am the perfect mother for my babies! It means the most to me because I get things wrong all the time, but that's part of growing as a mother and being better! Luckily they forgive easily.
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