Inspiring Mama’s 2015: Nomination time

It’s a new year and a great time to re-kindle my “inspiring mama” series. Last year I featured Emma Jackson (one very brave woman), Rosemarie Siggins (her interview still inspires me every time I read it), Samar Shaheryar and Alicia Wieser (the mama’s that motivate me to do better), Louise Kane Buckley (who I have a lot to learn from) and Holly Tucker MBE (one very driven mama)!

While I have many more in the pipeline and will be bringing them to a laptop near you over the next few weeks, I’d love to hear your nominations: those mama’s that motivate and inspire you and make you want to be a better and stronger woman. Tweet me, message me on Facebook or comment below and I’d love to feature your mama of choice!


Inspiring Mama: Holly Tucker MBE

Holly Tucker MBE is the CEO of which was founded in 2006. The concept behind NOTHS is very simple and yet so brilliant. Take your local fair, which everyone loves, and put it online. So come rain or shine, it is accessible 24/7. It’s main focus is selling high quality bespoke items from small British businesses. It’s a win-win situation: we get beautiful (mainly handcrafted items) and small businesses all over the country get put on the map.

NM: Your son Harry (now 9) was born around the same time as NOTHS. Many people would use a newborn as their excuse to not start a new business but you did quite the opposite. What was that like?

HT: Hard work! Becoming a mum for the first time is a full time job in itself and here I was trying to balance motherhood with launching my first online business. I can’t say it was easy but it did allow me (at least in the early days) the luxury of spending time with my son. launched in April 2006 and Harry has always been very much a part of the business, so much so that on his sixth birthday he asked if he could come in to the office to learn some coding with the tech guys!

NM: Having an idea and actually executing it are two completely different things. What tips would you give to anyone looking to start their own business?

HT: Know that you are doing it for the right reasons. Running your own business can have lots of perks but ultimately it means you have the toughest boss of all – you! I didn’t set out to become an entrepreneur but I have always been passionate about small, creative businesses. I saw hidden talent everywhere and I was determined to shine a light on these sellers and offer them an online platform to trade more efficiently.

NM: How do you balance your work life and your family life?

HT: When it comes to running your own business there is no such thing as a work/life balance and whilst that can be difficult to accept, you have to remind yourself that no one can do everything all of the time. I’m not always the best at switching off but holidays are my time to dedicate to my family. We’ve recently come back from a trip to South Africa where my partner Frank, Harry and I helped release some baby turtles into the sea. Memories such as that are incredibly precious to me and make the long working hours all the more worth it.

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NM: What can we expect from NOTHS in the next 12 months?

HT: What’s not to expect?! We’ve set the wheels in motion for our busiest year yet with new category launches (including the launch of experiences which I am VERY excited about!), international development as well as a new TV ad campaign set to launch this summer.

From its inception, has focused on championing unique, original and high quality products and obviously one of our on-going ambitions is to continue to delight customers with our product range. promotes ‘a life less ordinary’ and this is what we want to bring to our customers; beautiful products that will make their lifestyles just a little more extraordinary.

NM: An MBE is such a honour, congratulations! What one word describes how you felt on the day?

HT: Bursting with pride! (Am I allowed three?)

Ofcourse you are Holly! 🙂 Thanks so much for speaking to us.

For fabulous, bespoke and personalised gifts, visit I just received my Mother’s Day present in the post 🙂

Inspiring Mama Series: Louise Kane Buckley

If you go onto any birth board or baby forum these days, you are bound to find conflicting advice when it comes to vaccinating your child or keeping them diary and gluten free. There has however been studies to show the negative impact of dairy and wheat on our bodies. Many people reach adulthood only to find they are lactose or gluten intolerant. Louise Kane Buckley is one healthy mama who found eliminating dairy and wheat from her life made her feel better and this passion for nutrition led her to start Loula Natural which provides you with alternatives to living a healthier life. She also tackles the subject of vaccinations and how you can protect your children without vaccinating them.

NM: Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into the field of health and nutrition.

LKB: I grew up in Hong Kong (ESF alum!). I then Lived in London for 16 years before returning here with my family. I have been in the health industry for almost 10 years. I started as a Personal Trainer and have always been fascinated with nutrition. I was experimenting with nutrition and started eliminating dairy and wheat from my life at the same time. I was feeling better. I also started looking at other ways of feeling better without the use of pharmaceuticals. I looked into becoming a Nutritional Therapist to enhance my services as a PT and it all snowballed from there and I ended up doing two diplomas’ (Naturopathy and Nutrition) at the same time to become a Naturopath and Nutritional Therapist. I absolutely love my job and have never looked back! I live the natural life and my second child was a planned homebirth here in Hong Kong!

NM: There is much talk these days for and against vaccinating babies and children. What is your view on vaccinations?

LKB: My view is that understanding the power of nature is key. We live in a world where we are sicker then we were even 20-30 years ago. Chronic illness is affecting our children and babies and I see more babies with digestive and immune issues than adults- a frightening situation. Your body is an environment- no illness or set of symptoms which we have grouped together and named as a disease can continue if the environment does not promote it. Microbes which occur naturally will never be eradicated. Trying to remove them from our lives by injecting ourselves with (sometimes highly toxic) chemicals does not solve the problem. I believe we are being misguided into believing it is the only way to keep our children well. Instead we should be working on giving our kids (esp. babies) optimum nutrition to change their internal environments, reduce toxins in their external environment, strengthen their body and immune systems and give them the tools within themselves to create and pass on true immunity (something vaccinations will never give). Hence I do not fear any ‘illness’ as I am prepared to help my body, my children’s bodies and my clients, to work out how to change their internal environment which is key to wellness. I have many links to articles written which help reaffirm my choice and beliefs here.

NM: A baby’s gut is such a delicate thing. When my son was a baby I often heard so many different opinions on weaning and the right age. The WHO states a baby should be weaned at 6 months but in the UK the NHS give parents the go ahead at 4 months. What do you think is the best way to build your child’s gut and immunity? And in your opinion, when should you start weaning your baby?

LKB: This is a very complex set of questions- each one can be answered with an essay in itself! The digestive system is the root to all heath. Without the digestive system you would be unable to unlock the tools from your food to produce a healthy cell, which then go on to make your body and thus begins a vicious cycle. Feeding yourself nutrient dense foods is half of the equation you need to be able to access the nutrients. A baby’s development starts long before conception. The parent’s health will determine the egg and sperm health and so on. Whilst forming within the mother the mother needs nutrients for both herself and her baby and once the baby is born (hopefully by natural vaginal unassisted birth) breast milk is paramount to the baby and its development and health. This is all becoming rarer these days to have all the pieces in place. So how do we try to repair the potential damage? Let me start with this – in Naturopathy we treat every person as an individual – this includes babies. Every situation is different and will need different approaches. There are no protocols, no right or wrongs and no straight answer to all of the above. I can say that fermented products, essential fats, good quality protein and nutrient dense carbs play a vital role during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in first weaning foods for kids. So if you want most of the answers to these questions I recommend a Naturopath to accurately be able to support your baby as an individual.

Babies should be weaned when they can sit up by themselves, have shown an interest in food and then shown that they are ready. The first stages of weaning should be in building the co-ordination to see food, be able to pick it up and get it into their mouths. They should then be allowed to play with the food and be able to move food around and out of their mouth. They should then be allowed to learn how to chew and swallow. If you allow your child to learn these key things you are giving your child the basic needs to begin digestion- as it begins in the mouth. For the first year breast milk will allow them all the nutrients that they need and if fed on demand to the amount they desire. Basic instincts of hunger and satiety should be dictated by the child. The first year of weaning onto foods should be regarded as providing them with tools to help the digestive function to begin to take place. By restricting any potential irritants to the digestive system such as; gluten, dairy (formula is considered dairy), nuts, egg whites (yolks are amazing first foods for babies) nightshades (potatoes, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes and courgettes), and meat (which is difficult to digest) for the first year will also greatly help the digestive systems development.

Feeding your child fermented products to provide bacteria will also help this transition to food from breast milk. By allowing the digestive system to thrive and develop you will be supporting their immune system at the same time. By eliminating potential irritants you are less likely to see babies and children with immune weakness such as food intolerances, eczema and even asthma. See my 5 Reasons to heal and strengthen your digestive system post.

NM: What is Kefir and why is it so important?

LKB: Kefir contains approximately 35 strains of alive bacteria and yeasts that occur naturally in the right proportions and ratios to take up residence in your body and help to balance your internal environment. Also see my 5 reasons to make Kefir post.

NM: When I had S I lost a lot of blood, my iron levels were extremely low and I was unable to successfully breastfeed. Are there any foods that can help with breastfeeding and what advice would you give to mothers who are trying but struggling with breastfeeding?

LKB: Get support. Never be afraid to ask for help. Also trust yourself and your baby to get through it together. You will always provide for your baby. There are only 5% of mothers who are truly not able to provide. Weight of a baby and volume of liquid expressed does not alone dictate heath. There are so many other markers of health and if a baby is thriving. Try to ask a range of professional’s advice too rather than always asking the same person. I have exclusively breastfed two babies and have had two very different experiences but I am limited to two – although I have helped many others. I asked around and went to many breastfeeding support groups with both situations. Nutrient dense foods full of essential fats like coconut oil, flax oil, avocados, eggs, fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants will really help. As with all things quality will be better than quantity- a baby consuming nutrient dense milk may not need the same quantity as another baby. Every baby is individual and therefore it is best to again see someone who will assess all the signs of a thriving baby.

NM: I often hear conflicting advice with regards to dairy. Some say we shouldn’t be drinking milk past infancy while others advocate dairy as a great source of calcium. What is your take on dairy and how it affects our body?

Dairy is an unnecessary food in my opinion especially when it comes from grain fed cattle which are over-milked and full of synthetic hormones and antibiotics. When milk is then pasteurised it also then becomes ‘dead’ food. If you are buying milk from grass-fed, organic free to pasture cows which are only milked to their capacity and you are drinking the milk raw (not available to us sadly in Hong Kong), that is a different matter. If you consume dairy it should be grass-fed, organic, pastured, full fat (as most of the potentially available nutrients such as vitamin a and e is found in the fat) and if not raw then fermented. The calcium is only available (if at all) when it contains the necessary enzymes to help in its digestion and absorption (which are killed off in the pasteurisation process). Otherwise you can live perfectly well (both of my kids, myself and husband are dairy free at home – they consume small amounts when it is unavoidable, but then I always practise the 80/20 rule!). Please see my calcium post.

You can contact Louise on for information on her classes and books.  She also takes consultations at The Body Group every Wednesday. Her website is and you can also find her on Facebook

Inspiring Mama Series: Samar Shaheryar & Alicia Wieser

Samar Shaheryar & Alicia Wieser

The story of friends, Samar and Alicia is quite a similar one. Allie and her husband are college sweethearts and were living in NYC before moving to Asia. Samar met and married her husband in NYC before moving out to Asia. Both women were working in finance before their husband’s jobs took them to Tokyo.

While there, they founded “Tokyo Helps”, a non-profit group to raise money for special causes. In the winter of 2010, Allie moved to Hong Kong and Samar soon followed in the summer of 2011, after the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami. Both ladies loved Tokyo but have since grown to love Hong Kong as much. In Tokyo they organised fundraisers for Pakistan & Haiti and in Hong Kong they continued to do so, raising money for Japan & East Africa.

But that wasn’t enough. In 2012, they wanted to create something that was more sustainable in a business sense. Baby Hero was conceived. They had decided to create a baby product that funded maternal and infant health. And as it is when something is meant to be, all the pieces of the puzzle fell together. A friend posted on Facebook about her husband’s friend (Dr. Shaun Morris) who was looking for a grant to help with maternal health in Pakistan. The ladies immediately got on Skype with him and started brainstorming how they were going to work together.

The idea behind Baby Hero is to provide essential wearable onsies and toddler t-shirts made out of the finest organic cotton. For every onsie and t-shirt sold, a clean birth kit is given to a mother in need and life-saving medical products to her baby.


NM: Where did the name Baby Hero come from? I’m also intruiged by your website address.

BH: We were discussing our idea over lunch with a particularly creative friend, Unum Muneer, and she suggested a social media campaign where parents could post photos of their babies in our clothes on Facebook: “My baby is a hero!” We loved it immediately especially as it not only references those wearing our clothes but also all the heroic babies who survive and thrive in unimaginably difficult circumstances around the world.

Website address is us staying true to our social entrepreneurship goals and keeping costs low. By using a little used domain (in this case Romania), we were able to avoid the high fee to purchase a .com and also generate a bit of interest/buzz around our website.

NM: What is your vision for the next 2 years?

BH: Our aim with Baby Hero is to bring giving into people’s daily life. Every time they purchase a Baby Hero product they set in motion an action that has the potential to save the life of a mother or baby. Over the next two years and beyond, we want to positively impact as many families as possible – make our Maternal and Newborn Care Kit available in all the areas in which maternal and infant mortality are particularly high due to lack of medical facilities and also continue to explore and fund other low-cost medical interventions. The way we achieve this goal is to continue to expand our product offerings, reach consumers globally and stay true to our vision for a completely ethical brand made with 100% organic fabric using fair-labor.

NM: Even with the existence of several NGO’s and charities, the infant mortality rate remains high, especially in Africa and South Asia. Why is this?

BH: This is a very good question. It is an issue of scale and weak healthcare systems especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Infant and maternal mortality solutions are harder to scale up as they often require multiple remedies, greater equipment or expertise. This is why we, and Dr. Shaun Morris, our partner who developed the Maternal and Newborn Care Kit we are funding, believe it can be so effective. While there is evidence that all the low-cost and easy to use interventions included in the Kit improve infant health, no one has packaged them together in precisely this way. We anticipate the Kit will reduce newborn mortality in the study population in Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan by up to 40%.  To determine if we can actually achieve this benefit, we are conducting a randomized controlled trial.  If our trial is successful, we would then take steps to scale up delivery of the kit to a wider population.  One of the problems with ‘aid’ in the past is that interventions have often not been properly studied and sometimes the impact is quite a bit different than had been anticipated. As the Kit is cheap, effective and easily portable, it is very scalable and can even be funded and implemented by the local community once aid groups step back.

NM: I love the idea behind the factory you work with. Could you tell my readers a bit about how the factory you work with also plays into your vision for women.

BH: We love the factory we are working with in India too! Assisi Garments is an organic, fair-trade factory in Southern India founded by Franciscan Nuns. Many of the women it employs come from disadvantaged backgrounds – widows who carry a great stigma in the local community, women who have been abused or are otherwise on the margins of society. They also employ disabled workers. All their employees work in safe conditions and are paid a decent living wage. When you buy one of our garments, you are positively impacting so many lives – the organic farmers and cotton producers, the workers at the factory who are being paid and treated fairly and of course the families who receive our Kit and whose mothers and children will lead healthier lives as a result of it. This to us is the perfect circle and the only way to do business – to take care of our planet by choosing an eco-friendly fiber, by taking care of our fellow human beings by making sure to use fair labour and giving back through our product and to do it all while remaining an economically sustainable business. Our goal is to eventually have our own fair-trade factory that boosts the local economy in the areas in which we are distributing the Kit. This is how you start to level the playing field and eradicate poverty – economic self-sufficiency and aid working together.

NM: For those of us who don’t live in Hong Kong, can we buy Baby Hero onsies and toddler t-shirts online?

BH: YES! We ship internationally – everywhere. And we’re currently working on our Spring/Summer line – expanding our offerings – so keep an eye out for more products!

If you’d like to get involved or donate, please visit

To buy one of these adorable onsies and t-shirts, visit their online shop.

With Baby Hero, you can make a life saving difference to a mother and child in need.

Inspiring Mama Series: Rosemarie Siggins

Rosemarie Siggins (nee Homan) was born with ‘Sacral Agenesis’, a rare condition which left her with severely deformed legs and feet pointing in an outward direction. At the age of 2, with insight from doctors and other specialists, her parents decided to amputate the lower half of her body. By the time she was 3, Rose had learnt to walk on her hands and soon after started using a skateboard to get around.

Her passion for cars led her to be a mechanic and her dad went so far as to adapt the pedals of her car so she could drive and have the freedom to get around. She got her first car (a 1974 Chevy Camaro with a 350 engine) when she was only sixteen. In 1997 she met Dave Siggins who worked at an auto parts store and they got married in 1999.

Many born with this condition end up spending their lives in a wheelchair, going through a number of surgeries and never having kids. But this inspiring mama was different. She fell pregnant and going against most doctors advice, she had two beautiful children, Luke and Shelby.

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NM: Rose, it’s an honour to feature you on the inspiring mama’s series. Life hasn’t always been easy but you have overcome pretty much every obstacle thrown at you. What motivates you?

RS: Thank you for the kind invitation. Life is hard for all sorts of people. I was just given this life so overcoming obstacles has become second nature. My upbringing has always been my motivation. My mom would never allow me to give up.  She would always tell me find away.

NM: I am of the belief that a parent’s attitude plays a great role in the attitude of their child. How did your parent’s attitude when you were younger encourage you and make a difference to your life?

RS: As I mentioned in the question above, my parents especially my mom played a vital role in my positive outlook on life. My parents supported me in whatever I wanted to do. They gave my the confidence I needed. I raise both my children the same way. I encourage them not to give up when something is hard.

NM: Tell me about your experiences having Luke & Shelby.

RS: Having Luke was easy. Compared to Shelby. With Luke, the doctors were concerned about complications with the pregnancy. For instance, since I am small and don’t have a lot of room inside me as a ‘normal female’ for the baby to grow. The doctors worried as the baby grew it would compromise my lungs and make breathing a challenge for me. Also, doctors worried about the baby not growing to a full size and it having health issues when the baby was born. For example, lung issues and mental challenges due to its small size. I was very lucky with my first pregnancy. None of those issues happened. I had Luke via classical style C-section at 35 weeks. We delivered early in case I experienced preterm labour.  He weighed 5lbs 8oz and 19 1/2 inches long. Normal size baby.

Seven years after having Luke I became pregnant with Shelby. Her birth was not as easy. Since my first pregnancy was without complications, the doctors kind of relaxed and so did I. About three months into my pregnancy, I started to experience vaginal bleeding more than usual. Doctors became worried that my uterus was tearing. After an ultrasound performed by the doctor, they could not figure out what was causing the bleeding. To be cautious, the doctor had me bedridden for the remainder of the pregnancy. A month later I experienced extreme pain in my abdomen. Once again I was rushed to the hospital, another ultra sound performed to see the baby was doing fine. Near the end of my second pregnancy, I started to have breathing issues. Doctors advised me to remain in the hospital for the next week as a precaution. I was glad that last week was the 35th week. Shelby weighed 4lbs 6oz and 17 inches long.

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NM: I read about your dream of your mom when you were recovering after having Shelby. Even when she wasn’t physically there for you, she was there for you. Not many are lucky enough to experience that. Can you tell my readers about that experience.

RS: I was very scared with my second pregnancy. It seemed all the fears doctors had were coming true. My mom was with me for my first pregnancy. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years after Luke was born. So, I no longer had her here to help calm me during the second pregnancy. I had a dream that felt so real. She came to me in the middle of the night when I was bedridden. She told me everything would be fine. She was watching over the baby from above. She said she would be in the operating room to make sure everything went smoothly. I felt better about what she said. I found the courage and faith to believe everything would be alright.

NM: Let’s talk about Dave Siggins. The man who has loved you for 14 years and stood (tall!) by your side through your pregnancies, losing your parents and still continues to do so. How has he changed your view of life?

RS: He has been my rock. Him believing in me and standing ‘tall’ by my side makes me know I can conquer anything.

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NM: Last but not least, your freedom board. My mission with this post is to help you raise money to design and build your freedom board. To date you have raised $5,530. Why is the freedom board so important to you (as opposed to a wheelchair) and what will it look like?

RS: I appreciate your generosity to help with raising funds for my Freedom Board. I am so thrilled you are creating a link allowing your readers to donate. The board is an invention of my husband. He felt since I have always rode a skateboard why stop now. So, the board will have an electric motor. The best way to kinda describe it would be the bottom of a Segway. I can sit on it and lean forward to go or lean to either side to turn. I have been raising funds for it since 2011. Every time I get so close, I do a price check on all the supplies and find out all the prices are higher. It seems like I can’t get ahead. But I am not giving up!

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Having half a body hasn’t stopped Rose from doing anything, I’m certain nothing will. Please click the link below and make a donation to make a difference.

Brilliant blog posts on

Inspiring Mama Series: Emma Jackson

Emma Jackson is 27 and a single mum to Ethan-James who is 20 months old. She worked in a busy day nursery after leaving school in 2002 until 2007. She then worked at a plant hire company until 2009 and then in Wales until 2010. On the 3rd of November 2010 she had a life changing accident which resulted in a 5 week hospital stay. She had 10 operations in 7 days and has had 6 more since. It took the emergency services 1 hour and 35 minutes to get her out of her car which had dropped down a 30ft. embankment. She’s been left with scars for life as well as mobility issues. But she hasn’t let any of this stop her going after what she wants. She is one brave mama!


NM: You’ve been through quite a bit in the last few years and you’re still fairly young. Was wanting a child something you always had in mind or something you realised after your accident?

EJ: I have always wanted children but timescale wise it wasn’t something I could pinpoint. I was told I was infertile in 2005 and this was heartbreaking as I always dreamed of being a mum. After the accident I realised how much we take for granted and how short life is so I set about fertility treatments and ways to become a parent as a single mum.

NM: Being a single parent is a tough job but you took it on voluntarily. What motivates you?

EJ: Being a single mum is very hard work but every moment, every smile, giggle and cuddle is so rewarding. I don’t see it as a challenge as I’ve never known anything different.

NM: What method did you choose to have your son, Ethan-James? And why?

EJ: The method I chose to have my son was artificial insemination using donor sperm. I chose this way over adoption, fostering, etc. as I wanted to carry my own child and be the biological mother.

NM: Were there any risks with conceiving Ethan-James so soon after the accident? You were young and could have possibly waited a little longer?

EJ: No, no risks but my fertility specialist said 25 (age) was cutting it if I wanted to try as I needed medications, etc. But operations did have to wait till I had him.

NM: Does the National Health Service (in the UK) cover artificial insemination? I’m guessing it’s quite an expensive process?

EJ: The NHS in my area didn’t. I don’t know if they still don’t or do. IVF, you get 3 cycles but again not in our area. You have to go out of area. I did mine privately.

NM: For those who are considering having a baby without a partner, what advice would you give them?

EJ: If you are considering becoming a parent without a partner I would say the most important things are to have good family and friends for support. I have amazing friends and family. Think long and hard about the financial part. Also being the baby’s sole carer, you don’t get a day off if you’re tired or ill. You still have to look after them 100%, there’s no going to bed to recover, etc. whilst the other half helps out.

For more information on artificial insemination and what it involves, click here.

The choice to single parent

One morning last week, I was watching the 100 women series on BBC News. Their focus that day was on women who are choosing to be single mothers; having and raising a child without a partner. The question asked was “Is there any way to tell if women are choosing to have children on their own or is it just a necessity (because they’re getting older)?”

Sally O’Donnell (BBC movie based on her) says it came as a decision, not a question.

She said “I am going to give this a shot and if it doesn’t work then I’ll let go of the chance of having a child.”

She was worried she’d be judged as an older woman on her own but says in fact the medical community was very supportive. She went through IVF to have her son Stephan.

She says (when criticised for having a child on her own at her age): “People can make judgements about any situation and that’s up to them but it doesn’t have to impact me, it’s their stuff, it’s not my stuff.”

Sally kept hearing people say their children are the thing they are most proud about (amongst all their other achievements). She too wanted to experience that.

Demographics are changing. Women are reaching their late 30s and 40s and suddenly realise they are going to be childless. So they either embrace the childless life or see how they can become mothers.

There were two guests on the show to discuss this.

Tim Samuels (radio presenter) feels it’s a woman’s RIGHT if they want to have a child. Zoe Williams (columnist at The Guardian) says it’s not a right but it is a NEED and we shouldn’t underestimate that.


So what do you think? Should more women go out there and have the child they desire or should women who haven’t had a chance to have a child by the time they are a certain age just let go and accept it? I’d love to hear your views. Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing a mother who chose to go down the path of single parenting (in my Inspiring Mama’s series) after a serious accident changed her life forever. Watch this space!

For more information, check out Single Mothers by Choice and questions you should ask yourself first.