From Darkness to Light
I'm Dinah Thomasset, Founder & CEO of Villagehood Australia and this is my story.
Motherhood is often portrayed as a beautiful and fulfilling experience. However, the reality is that it can be a rollercoaster of emotions, especially for first-time mothers.
I remember the day I gave birth to my first child like it was yesterday. My husband and I were filled with so much joy, and we couldn't wait to take our healthy baby boy home. But as we left the hospial, a feeling of overwhelming worry and anxiety took over me.
I thought that feeling would disappear once I was safe at home with my baby, but it didn't. That night, alone in the dark, trying to breastfeed my baby, I completely freaked out. I cried and cried, second-guessing every decision I made. Every thought was followed by a "but what if," and I was getting more and more anxious by the minute. I hoped that the feeling would go away after a few weeks, but it didn't. I felt like I was "mummying in the dark" and had no confidence.
I called different helplines and met with professionals, hoping someone could shed some light and help me understand what I was meant to do. But all I got were vague answers like "trial and error" and "you know your baby best." It was frustrating and disheartening. I felt hopeless and invisible.
I really missed my mum and my aunties. I wished they were here with me so they could share their experience, tell me the truth about motherhood, and help me understand. But they were 18,000km away, and I was alone without my village.
When my second child was born, I thought things would be different, better, but they weren't. I smiled, happy to be a mum of two, but quickly, an overwhelming feeling took over. I had no idea how I was going to juggle an energetic toddler and a new baby who seemed upset all the time. I later found out that my baby had bad allergies, and I had to remove egg, soy, and dairy frommy diet. It was overwhelming because there was egg or soy or dairy in almost everything.
My baby wouldn't sleep because of her upset tummy and eczema, and I wouldn't sleep either for about five more months. The aggravated sleep deprivation triggered postnatal depression, and I was in a dark hole for many months. I cried for many months too. I went to CaFHS every week for five months and asked themfor more help, but it wasn't enough. My baby was nine months when I was finally accepted at Torrens House, but it was too late. Once again, I felt totally invisible, and I hoped things were different. I hoped I was different.
I believed that everything was my fault, that I was not a good mum, not a good wife. That I was failing. That I was disappearing. I got sick, really sick, and was rushed to the hospital because my liver was failing. I was scared and thought that I was going to die. I told my husband that if anything happened to me while I was in the hospital, he would have to get over it and find our children a mother. “Any woman who would love them”, I said
At that point, my mindset shifted, and I realised that I was that woman. That my love for my children was enough. That I was enough. "I am enough," I whispered in my hospital bed. The next day, I asked to go home so I could be with my family and start therapy. My liver got better, and I got better.
A few months later, I went back to Morocco to see my mum and family to help with my recovery. There, I had a massive breakdown with Mum (of course), followed by a massive breakthrough. I discovered my purpose in life and decided to create a village for mothers where they could find everything on my wish list, and more. I wanted experienced mums who could offer support and guidance to new mothers,experts who could help them learn how to mummy with more confidence, and friendswho could simply hold their babies so they could take a moment to breathe. I wanted to create a space where mothers could connect with their babies on a deeper level and truly enjoy those early stages, while also meeting likeminded mums and doing something fun with them beyond talking about baby stuff. And above all, I wanted mothers to feel seen and heard as both women and mothers
And so, with these wishes in mind, Villagehood Australia was born.
A village where mothers could come with their children to find the support, community, and resources they need tothrive in motherhood.
Villagehood Australia was launched in March 2020 and over the past three years we have built a strong network of mothers, volunteers and professionals and have recorded more than 1,500 visits in our Villagehood hubs and it brings me great joy to be able to contribute to the well-being of women in my community and help them navigate the challenges of motherhood with more ease and confidence.
I strongly believe in the power of peer support and community connections, and I am committed to creating a safe and welcoming space for mothers to connect, share their stories, and learn from one another.
I hope my story will inspire mothers to believe that with determination, support and resilience, they too can find the light through the darkest moments.