Kate’s story: merrymaking and motherhood

19th January 2023

Christmas was doubly special for Kate in 2022.

The 35-year-old, who was diagnosed with MS two years ago, celebrated the festive season with a new addition: baby Billie.

The bundle of joy is a sibling for Kate’s three-year-old daughter, Clara, with partner Michael.

Aside from the gift-giving that comes with Christmas Day, Kate’s enjoyed baking with her family over the break.

“I love it," she said.

"I try to make muffins and banana bread with Clara. I’m a bit of a foodie. I love going out and having a meal too.”

Kate had to come off her MS treatments during pregnancy but since Billie’s safe arrival, has had her first MRI and been able to recommence treatment.

On a day-to-day basis, Kate can deal with tingling and numbness in her extremities and near-constant exhaustion. Add in parenting and the hectic nature of the holiday period, and it can take its toll. But for her two girls, it’s all worth it.

For Kate, diet and exercise are key components in managing her symptoms.

“I’ve lowered how much intake I have of gluten and dairy because apparently they’re inflammatory foods," she said.

"The more my body needs to try and fight that inflammation, it’s using too much energy.”

Other ‘trigger’ foods for her are chickpeas and broccoli.

Kate, who’s on parental leave from working as a pharmacy assistant, also tries to exercise three to four times a week. Walking and yoga are preferred.

“I find if I exercise, I do have more energy the next day, which, in turn, helps me as a parent to be able to spend time with the kids and get through the day.

“But also taking it easier helps. It has taken a long time for me to realise that not everything has to be done now," she says.

"I don’t have to do the floors now; I don’t have to do the dishes now – they can wait until later. I can take 10 minutes out to play, even if it’s just sitting on the floor with the kids and playing with some of their toys.”

Keeping a lid on stress is important, as well. “If I’m feeling stressed, my symptoms will play up. That’s when my mum comes in. She’ll be like, ‘You know, I’ll take the children for a bit. You just go and relax.’”

Kate’s partner will do the same. This quiet time allows Kate to do some yoga or planning.

“Sometimes I’ll get my diary and I like to plan the meals that we’re having during the week, and when I want to exercise," she says.

"Then I’m not thinking about it too much each day, it’s already planned.”

The MS Society SA & NT has played a big role in Kate’s proactivity and positivity too.

“June (her MS nurse) is just always there," she says.

"Whenever I have a question or I feel like things are getting on top of me, I can just reach out.”

Also useful is following other inspirational people with MS on social media or dipping into the Society’s Facebook page.

“Sometimes when you see some of the posts, you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s not just me, other people feel like this too'," Kate says.

"And you can always jump on there and post to get other people’s opinions or advice.”

Given the young age of Kate’s daughters, one thing that remains on the horizon is telling them about her diagnosis. When this will happen, she’s not yet sure.

“Most of the time I just say to Clara, ‘Mummy’s tired, let’s just watch a movie'," she says.

"My partner’s really good too. He’ll say: ‘Mum’s not feeling very well; let’s lay on the couch with her or something.’

“Hopefully, they’ll just grow up with it and understand that the symptoms are just what Mummy has and, and eventually, they’ll find out that I’ve got a diagnosis.”

A positive Kate’s taken from living with MS is how it’ll shape her girls.

"I would love for my children to be caring, sympathetic and understanding of others," she says.

"Hopefully that will come naturally because they’ll grow up with a mum who needs support.”

*Image: Tianie Caruso Photography

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Kate’s story: merrymaking and motherhood