Failing Motherhood

Solo Motherhood by Choice, PMDD, + Leaving a Legacy with Emily Mulligan

September 12, 2023 Danielle Bettmann | Parenting Coach for Strong-Willed Kids Episode 121
Solo Motherhood by Choice, PMDD, + Leaving a Legacy with Emily Mulligan
Failing Motherhood
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Failing Motherhood
Solo Motherhood by Choice, PMDD, + Leaving a Legacy with Emily Mulligan
Sep 12, 2023 Episode 121
Danielle Bettmann | Parenting Coach for Strong-Willed Kids

We cover a lot of topics in this episode, so buckle your seat-belts. Today we get a front row seat to learn from a mom already wise in her years, Emily Mulligan

Emily is a solo mum by choice to two little girls living on the West Coast of Australia.  She walks us through her journey into creating her family, as well as her experience in discovering and managing her PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a very severe form of PMS).

Crippled by low self-esteem, depression + anxiety as well as an overwhelming feeling of never feeling good enough, Emily has recently discovered her calling outside of a career, working on the impostor syndrome one day at a time!


  • The thoughts + experiences that led Emily to donor conception
  • The way she differentiates depression + anxiety from a hormonal disorder
  • How her personal project became a social movement


  • Ways Emily has leaned on friends and community resources to support her and her girls

Ngala (Australia)

Join the waitlist:
Instagram: @thelovemumproject
Personal IG: @emilygracemulligan

I believe in you + I'm cheering you on.
Come say hi!  I'm @parent_wholeheartedly on Insta.
Schedule your FREE Consultation:

Send us Fan Mail over Text.

Support the Show.

Master the KIND + FIRM Approach your Strong-Willed Child Needs WITHOUT Crushing their Spirit OR Walking on Eggshells
*FREE* -

Show Notes Transcript

We cover a lot of topics in this episode, so buckle your seat-belts. Today we get a front row seat to learn from a mom already wise in her years, Emily Mulligan

Emily is a solo mum by choice to two little girls living on the West Coast of Australia.  She walks us through her journey into creating her family, as well as her experience in discovering and managing her PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a very severe form of PMS).

Crippled by low self-esteem, depression + anxiety as well as an overwhelming feeling of never feeling good enough, Emily has recently discovered her calling outside of a career, working on the impostor syndrome one day at a time!


  • The thoughts + experiences that led Emily to donor conception
  • The way she differentiates depression + anxiety from a hormonal disorder
  • How her personal project became a social movement


  • Ways Emily has leaned on friends and community resources to support her and her girls

Ngala (Australia)

Join the waitlist:
Instagram: @thelovemumproject
Personal IG: @emilygracemulligan

I believe in you + I'm cheering you on.
Come say hi!  I'm @parent_wholeheartedly on Insta.
Schedule your FREE Consultation:

Send us Fan Mail over Text.

Support the Show.

Master the KIND + FIRM Approach your Strong-Willed Child Needs WITHOUT Crushing their Spirit OR Walking on Eggshells
*FREE* -

Emily Mulligan  0:00  
The worst grief I felt when I did break up with Daisy's dad was really not about the end of the relationship. It was just suddenly realizing and it dawning on me like, Oh my God, I didn't just want to have one baby like, I wanted to have siblings, I wanted to create that, like family, that happy family with these traditions that I'd imagined or you know, like little camping trips and just like cheering each other on and having family board game nights and things and in my imagination when it when I really stepped back and like looked at it clear, I was like, okay, honestly, for me, like the person I am, a man or a partner isn't really that big of a part of the picture. Like, it's just me being this strong mother, with utter adoration for our kids. And just like, I want to help them to succeed in this crazy life.

Danielle Bettmann  0:49  
Ever feel like you suck at this job...motherhood, I mean? Have too much anxiety. And not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. But this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you, you feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week, we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Showing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here. 

Hey, it's Danielle. By the end of this episode, you are going to be as in love with Emily as I am, if not for her accent, for her vulnerability. And for all of just the open book newness that she has about her journey and her story. We are just so honored. We are so honored to have her today. And we jumped topics and we cover a lot in this episode, so you are going to be on the edge of your seat just waiting to see how this all plays out. The main things that we are covering in today's episode are her journey towards solo motherhood with her second daughter, and everything that went into it and just kind of peeking behind the scenes of what that decision is like and how she went about it. We also talk about her experience with P M D, D, the hormonal disorder and she kind of paints a picture of what that's been like for her and how she's managing it and what advice she has for you if you have these mood swings that correlate with your cycle. So much wisdom to share. And then she has a really, really cool project that she is just starting to launch called the Love Mom project. And I can't wait for you to hear about it. You're just going to be like why did I not have this already. And we don't even get to that until like an hour in. So buckle your seatbelts, it's going to be a wild ride. And I can't wait for you to hear it. It's so so so good. 

I'm just so thankful for the space we have here and that you are here listening and tuning in to these interviews. It just says so much about the parent you are and how intentional you want to be and just how much you value, being able to learn from each other and compare notes and be able to do things differently for your kids and have some intentionality and some peace of mind along the way. So so glad you're here. So let me introduce you to Emily. She is a solo mom by choice to two little girls Daisy and Polly. They live on the sunny West Coast of Australia where they spend as much of their time outdoors as possible relishing in these precious little years. Emily recently discovered a motherhood passion project she's been working on during naptime that had huge public interest. So she has just launched her business, the Love Mum project, and she's very mindful of taking it slow staying on top of hers and her kids mental health, and finding a happy balance between business and mothering. In this episode, she shares how she has been able to differentiate depression and anxiety from a hormonal disorder, which I think is definitely not a conversation we're having enough. She talks about what she does to ask for help and some of the resources that she's tapped into. So I'm so excited to share Emily with you. Let's dive in. Hi. 

Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann. On today's episode, I have Emily Mulligan here. And apparently I pronounced Emily like an American. Welcome, Emily. 

Emily Mulligan  5:17  
Oh, I love it so much. 

Danielle Bettmann  5:19  
She is from Australia. And so she's at the end of her long day and I am just beginning mine. And to me it is the coolest thing that we can connect on the internet. But we've wanted to connect for a while and we can talk about so many things. So we are gonna do our darndest to be diligent about managing our time and getting to the really good stuff that we can talk about today. But before we jump in, have you ever felt like you were failing motherhood?

Emily Mulligan  5:49  
Oh my god. Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me, Danielle. Yeah, it's been a long time coming. So yes, yesterday at the swimming pool, I go to to break open the the chips. You call them french fries. So like the little box of hot chips. It's like our tradition after we have swimming. Yeah, my my daughter, she just absolutely went to town she had about a 45 minute tantrum meltdown, screaming at the top of her lungs. And I just was there with her trying to get through it trying to tell her I understand the conflict is now ripped up. It wouldn't matter. It didn't matter if I went and got a new box, nothing would work. So I was just there getting all the judgment and all the pity looks from the other parents and yeah. So it's pretty much day, day after day. There's a time like that when I would I feel like I'm failing with her especially.

Danielle Bettmann  6:44  
She's your strong-willed one.

Emily Mulligan  6:45  
Oh my god. Yeah, that's that's how I found you originally.

Danielle Bettmann  6:50  
Yeah, yes. You're not alone. Gonna make a great leader. And so how is the culture... Are they just as judgmental of parents as it is in America. Like, do you feel the eyes staring at you?

Emily Mulligan  7:04  
Yeah. Especially the older generations? Absolutely. We got asked to leave like a little playgroup that was run at a community center by some elderly people. They just said it wasn't appropriate that my daughter was crying and behaving the way she was. And I know they were like, if you could just take it outside, and she was just sobbing over something. And I was just being there with her, you know? Yeah, it's something I've had to really get through to my own parents like that. Things have changed. And I really want to follow through with things that are a little more evidence based and a little bit more like positive psychology oriented. So it's been Yeah, it's been a massive learning curve for me.

Danielle Bettmann  7:41  
Just speaking our language. Everyone's nodding along with you. Same. Same. Yeah,

Emily Mulligan  7:46  
I think every country in the world. I know

Danielle Bettmann  7:48  
I'm getting you after a nightmare of a bedtime is what you said?

Emily Mulligan  7:53  
Oh, my God. Oh, that could have been my failing motherhood. Yeah, God, I literally had to have my two year old, evacuated to my stepdads house. So I could do this. Because she was just like, so manic tonight, and would not go to bed. So I'm taking now the fail, but Jack it up to one one more in the books, you're good?

Danielle Bettmann  8:16  
No, we are, we are grateful to have you. And I can't wait to just kind of pick your brain. I'm just gonna let you talk. And then I'll stop you if I need to. Because I am obsessed with your story. And some of the things that are unique about your journey. Haven't been covered here on the podcast yet. And so I'm just like, so excited to kind of hear just that first person perspective, but also the insight that you can turn around and then share with people that are have where you were a year ago, or where you were, you know, three years ago, so valuable to learn from each other in that way, even, you know, from across the world. So let me ask you first, who were you before you became a mom?

Emily Mulligan  8:53  
God, I honestly don't think I'd even recognize myself before I was a mum. I was an interesting one. I always was such a high achiever. But nothing I did ever really felt good enough for myself. So was that classic straight A student union high school, my student loan is about $70,000, which actually might not seem like much to you guys. But for me, that's like having dipped into about six different degrees and barely ever finishing anything. I just always had these aspirations and didn't quite know how to persevere through them that classic imposter syndrome and just wanting to stop doing something before it was too risky to fail, if that makes sense. Totally makes sense. So yeah, the last thing I was doing before having kids I went and did a master's in professional writing. And I was looking at the cathartic effect of writing on mental health and particularly whilst traveling and that I was meant to be doing a travel blog whilst living in South America. That was like the project I'd been approved for by the university, that impostor syndrome and I literally just went to South America and kind of, it's not like I wasn't trying, like I was working diligently, like every day on the masters. But I wasn't publishing anything. I wasn't like sending anything submitting anything. I had a great time. But I was, I just did not pursue it like the way I could have possibly should have. So I got back to Australia, I just felt so lost. I felt so ashamed of myself, I hadn't done what I was meant to. And I didn't know what was next, I would have had to like restart a whole new assignment. So I became a flight attendant, super randomly, and spent the next two years flying for Virgin Australia. So that was great. Because I was still able to study part time and go to Bali every other week and do my uni assignments, like from cafes and Bali. 

Danielle Bettmann  10:47  
Oh, we don't hate that. 

Emily Mulligan  10:48  
Yeah. Oh, my God, like, yes. And because of the the flight attending, it meant I got to use my staff travel benefits on a whim whenever I wanted. So I just decided spontaneously to go to Mexico one day, and that that's not easy for Western Australia and really around the world. So because of that I happen to cross paths with my now ex partner. And that's kind of Yeah, if I hadn't ever gone to Mexico, and met him that was actually a sliding doors moment, then I wouldn't be a mom right now. So and it wasn't in that night that we met. People like oh, okay, and I'm like, Yeah, we met for 12 hours, like, oh, no, sorry. Then it was a year later that we really met. And she came to be,

Danielle Bettmann  11:33  
So he was, it wasn't a one night stand. It was like, you know, he was the one

Emily Mulligan  11:39  
Yeah, yeah. Like I didn't in that moment, like realize what a connection we had forged. But we just stayed up chatting at this hostel for many, many hours. And we got on and so many levels, we've shared a lot of our values. And yeah, just kind of dipped in and out of Facebook messages for a year and decided to meet up again, the following year in Norway. He's European. So yeah, use my staff travel again and got there. And I don't know, I think everything was a little bit clouded by the Northern Lights as it would be. And yes, so head over heels. I'd never been in a long term relationship before that. My longest relationship I think had been 35 days. And it was always me like pulling the pin and not being able to settle it was the feeling like I wasn't good enough. But also weirdly and embarrassing to admit this, but not feeling like they were good enough. It was just this weird thing of could never meet my expectations in any any way. 

Danielle Bettmann  12:33  
Like you're your own worst enemy. 

Emily Mulligan  12:35  
Yeah, absolutely. But um, yeah, I think I've improved. Yeah, just crippled with low self esteem. And, as always so positive as you'd never believe it when people would meet me. And then I'd share a little of my story. Like I was always a big advocate for mental health, because I realized as an 18 year old that I'd been suffering with depression and anxiety since I was a young teen, if not even before, and it was around the time when it wasn't so spoken about. So I did do a lot of posting on social media originally sharing that journey. And obviously, my travels in South America, they were meant to be centered on me becoming even mentally healthier. With a Yeah, a little side of probably too much drinking and partying. But I then found myself in this long distance relationship with a European man who I very much adored. And then I realized that I was pregnant. And we were actually over the moon despite the 7000 miles apart. We thought it was just feasible. We thought that, you know, this was meant to be, and it wasn't meant to be it just wasn't meant to be the way we kind of expected it to go. So I tried to move there. Sorry. It's such a long story.

Danielle Bettmann  13:49  
No, you're good. We're on the edge of our seats.

Emily Mulligan  13:51  
Oh my god. I tried to move there. It was easier for me. I've got dual citizenship with Ireland so I could move to Europe. But once I got there, it just became so immediately clear that we were not going to last that our personalities just clash far too much. We've only ever seen that beautiful, bright side of each other when we're on these romantic little getaways around the world and honeymoon glow. 

Danielle Bettmann  14:15  
Yeah, absolutely. 

Emily Mulligan  14:17  
Yeah. And it was sad like it was it was a sad sudden realization that we were just too different. And yeah, I feel like I was hit with a lot of grief in those like first few weeks and I'd like just given up my whole life like luckily I hadn't quit my job with Virgin yet. But I had like taken a leave of absence and I literally moved like sent in shipping boxes like everything to Europe and it was all on its way that's a big deal. Oh my god, like whilst in my first trimester of pregnancy with a guy I've probably spent like three weeks with in total in the same continent. So yeah, it was nuts and it's classic of me to be completely impetuous. Absolutely impetuous Emily like That is my motto or my business. My main trade, but I do believe that somewhere intuition guides me like it's, even though people would be like, Oh, she's insane, or like, how could you do that so quickly or like who would do that? Somehow it has always worked out for the best or like there's been some beautiful little morsel that proves that it was the way even if others might have taken a completely longer route to it. Then I decided to move back to Australia. I talked to my family, and they said, Look, you need to be with us, like you need to be around your support system. I was worried about my mental health. I felt like it wasn't faltering. But I needed to be in a country where I spoke the language and had access to all the services that I could need. I knew I'd be predisposed to postnatal depression and anxiety. So I wanted to care for myself as best I could and the baby. So he was not happy about that. He really felt like he just didn't have the same opportunities in Australia that he had in Europe. So he did try and move here for a little while. And we gave it a go got a house, we rented a house and had the baby here. And that was Daisy, so just nearly four years ago, but within a few weeks of her being born, we just realized it was just all falling apart. And we were just too unhappy together. We were both so happy and so fulfilled as parents, and to this day, like I think he's an incredible dad, like, as hard as it is from the other side of the world. But yeah, just it was not going to be us as a couple us as a happy little family, which is hard. Like, it's not what anyone goes up imagining that their life is gonna turn out as so.

Danielle Bettmann  16:38  
Oh, I'm already just like, I have so many questions, but I'm going to keep going because I feel like we needed that background to kind of like paint the backstory. And now you're a mom. 

Emily Mulligan  16:38  
Now I'm a mom. 

Danielle Bettmann  16:52  
So in like the early days of motherhood had you come across a lot of parenting already about like, how you wanted to do it? Or were you kind of just like running off the instincts of you wanted to parent how you were parented? Talk us through a little bit of like that journey.

Emily Mulligan  17:11  
Okay, so whilst at uni, I nannied for a family, which had two little girls, and I looked after them for years, I didn't live with them, but I would go and you know, like help raise them essentially. So that it gives me like heaps of insight into the sort of way I wanted to do things. I had always just known like, in my heart of hearts, I just wanted nothing more than to be a mum. And you just know, like, it's, it's almost like anti feminist to say, like, Oh, I just want to be a mom. Like, it's, you can't do that, especially when you're like a straight A student. And everyone's like, you can be a doctor or a lawyer. And it's like, I just want to be a mom like baking cookies. But it was true. Like, I've always felt that I've always been very maternally minded. So the way I was raised is certainly not something I wanted to replicate. I came from very broken home. Even though my parents were together. It just wasn't a happy childhood. Like even though my mom is my absolute pillar of strength, like I adore her, she is just everything. I couldn't do life without her. But she had an awfully tragic childhood in Ireland, and her own mother just was completely incapable of mothering. And Mum kind of went the other way, she just wasn't mothered at all. And so she almost smothered me then like and my brother and just wrapped us up in cotton wool. She didn't teach us any resilience, the second anything went wrong. Or the second there was any sign that we might be struggling, she just pull us out. And I see that I then continue to do that as an adult myself, you know, the second that I felt like, oh my god, I could possibly fail here, I would just escape. for so my dad on the other hand, was completely emotionally absent; no talk of feelings. I never felt like he really loved me or really wanted me there. Or I tried so hard to be like a daddy's girl and I got into all his hobbies, like go to the horse racing with them and go to the football and all of that but and played poker like, but it was just kind of sad. Like looking back. I don't have many like happy childhood memories. So I always knew, right? When I'm a mom, I just want to start creating like happy traditions and just have this like infusion of just like optimism and love and encouragement and compassion and curiosity for who we all are and, like, never going to shy away from emotions, like never gonna be scared to show the kids that like this is anger. And this is sadness. And this is like absolute despair. But we will get through it together. You know, I just wanted us to be a real team and a real little family unit, which I feel like I didn't quite have. So I remember reading a quote that to understand like someone's emotional legacy. You've got to go back three generations and it kind of follows through so yeah, I was really fascinated by what the experience of like my great grandma There must have been an understanding that and I think I've got the gift of insight now that I'm starting from day one with my kids knowing like, okay, these are our family's probable weaknesses, you know, in terms of just like the things that we've been through for the past few generations. And like with Daisy, obviously, I've known from the very beginning, like, Okay, you're coming from a separated household, or however you want to define it. So with that in mind, is how I want to parent like to give her strength to give her those coping skills that she needs, so that it's never a disadvantage to her. It's just part of her narrative. And it's something like she doesn't need to be ashamed of and it's something I just want to help her through, like, right from the start. That's probably a big difference is, my mom tried so hard, and yet God, I love her. But I think she, she lacked that insight, she just was overdoing it so much so because of what she lacked.

Danielle Bettmann  20:55  
You're putting into words what a lot of people have done and being able to hear that in someone else. But then also be able to kind of paint the picture of, 

Emily Mulligan  21:04  
I didn't even realize that's what I was doing. 

Danielle Bettmann  21:06  
When you put words to it like that, it does go back generations, and there's so much about what we're doing that it's so easy to swing the pendulum from one way of parenting to way the opposite. And it's very hard to find something that is truly balanced and right for the child that's in front of you. And you know, it has to be strategic, it has to be intentional, and you're trying to throw that together while they are not sleeping. And you know, there's a million other things going on. So it's very hard to feel like you're even ahead of it by a day, you know, without feeling like you're behind and trying to just like keep up with what's going on today. Yes. So I love just kind of being able to put some of those thoughts together of how you created what your mindset is going in. So then tell me more about your thoughts on Daisy having a sibling, where were you at with that? And like when did that start to become a thought?

Emily Mulligan  22:04  
So I think it was the worst grief I felt when I did break up with Daisy's dad was really not about the end of the relationship. It was just suddenly realizing and it dawning on me like, oh my God, like I didn't just want to have one baby. Like I wanted to have siblings, I wanted to create that, like family, that happy family with these traditions that I had imagined or, you know, like little camping trips, and just like cheering each other on and having family board game nights and things. And in my imagination when when I really stepped back and like looked at it clearer. I was like, okay, honestly, for me, like the person I am, a man or a partner isn't really that big of a part of the picture. Like it's just me being this strong mother, with utter adoration for our kids. And just like I want to help them to succeed in this crazy life. 

And so it was when Daisy was six months old. And I had had like perfect mental health, like the whole pregnancy and the whole six month postpartum period with days, just spotless, and I was going through a particular Pregnancy Clinic in a public hospital, for women that have had prior issues with their mental health, which was so wonderful. It's a free service. And basically, I was seeing like a psychologist, every week, I had access to a psychiatrist, a social worker, all of these amazing people like just ensuring that like I was being put into the world of motherhood with like the best support and the right state of mind, which I was. 

And so When Daisy was about six months old, and I got my period back, I was breastfeeding, I got my period back. And I suddenly realized that every month, I was feeling like this insane urge to get pregnant again, around ovulation. And I'd never really tracked my cycle before having kids, I'd always been on hormonal birth control. And I just never really had the time and the space like with all my studies and travels to fill into my body and be like what's actually going on at you know, I'd written it off as like mental illness and stuff in the past, but it was around them that I was like having these huge ebbs and flows every month of despair. And it would get to this point where I'd be like, Oh my god, like if Daisy dies, like, I'll just have to kill myself. Like, that's just what's gonna have to happen. Like, you know, I just love her so much. I couldn't possibly live without her. But I obviously caught myself like, and I know, a lot of people would feel that way even though we might not admit it. But I really felt that and I luckily was able to be like, Oh, hold on, hold on, like, Whoa, that is a dark lens, like what is going on here. And I stopped and was like, That is not true. Like there is so much to live for. But I kind of delve deeper into those thoughts and was like, I want to just investigate this a little bit. And that's when I realized like, okay, yep, it's the sibling piece. And I'm feeling like this real tragedy has occurred in that I don't have someone to have another baby with and I started dating. I got back on Bumble, and I went on a few dates with a guy and I realized like, I am literally just sizing him up for fatherhood. Like, I don't care like I Shouldn't it was that awful of me, but I was doing the maths in my head. I was like, okay, so clearly this time, I have to wait a while because people are just gonna think I'm batshit if I'm like, Oh, I've met someone new. And so I was like, that will have to be like two years of dating, and then we can talk about it, and you know, then have another baby. And I was like, by that point Daisy is gonna be like four or five, like, I don't want that kind of age difference. And this is how erratic I can be. But I was like, Okay, well, I could just possibly do this on my own. And I hadn't really heard much about solo motherhood by choice at that point. But, uh, just entertain the thought. And then I was going to a yoga class, and the yoga teacher started explaining that she had gone down this journey of using a donor to try and get pregnant with her same sex partner, and that that actually met him online, rather than going through clinics. So it kind of all these little pieces fell into place around the time I was thinking about it. And I did go see my doctor, and I wanted to just kind of talk it through with her. And she gave me shocking advice. She actually- I'm no longer with my doctor for this reason, because I was just couldn't believe that she say this, but she told me that I should just have a very well timed one night stand with a very attractive man. And that was like her legitimate medical advice. I was like, Oh, my God, like, what are you trying to embroil me and this poor, unsuspecting man. 

And so I did not follow through that advice. But she gave me a referral to like a local fertility clinic. But then I was just thinking more and more about it. And I just, I wondered about this Facebook group, which the yoga teacher talks about us. And you know, I don't have any known fertility issues, if I can get it all right, in terms of meeting someone who I saved, like the good things in his character and really understand, like their motivation for donating their sperm. It's a very bizarre thing. Like if we really pull it apart, like, yeah, it's a very strange thing. Very generous and bloodline, I owe him everything. I also talked with my parents about it. And I got my mom's blessing. She just thought, you know what you have just absolutely shown, like ever since becoming a mother, like, no one had ever seen me this happy, and so fulfilled, and just not understanding, like, Why was I bothering before, like, I was trying to strive for this perfection, which clearly doesn't exist in life, and then get in motherhood, everything felt perfect with, I can't even describe like harmful words to it, like, I'm just truly, I'll get emotional, because I just felt like, I'd come home to myself. And after all these years of not knowing who I was, or what I was trying to do, and it was like, I was at ease, and I was at peace, and it was just the biggest blessing. 

So they supported me in that decision. And it just so happened that it was around the time of COVID. And I got given a huge redundancy payout from my employer, from the airline, because airlines had obviously shut down around the world. So that was an incredibly lucky thing to have occurred. And it just put me in a financial position to really be able to go forward with trying to conceive again on my own. So I did meet a donor. I'd kind of made an almost application post in this Facebook group, which had about 3000 members in the group like a local Australian sperm donors group. And I got lots of messages in reply. Some people probably had questionable characteristics, but a few of them just seemed like really honest guys, and just doing it for the right reasons. So I messaged quite a few back and forth. And then there was one in particular who just kind of really fit all of the

Danielle Bettmann  28:44  
indicators you're looking for.

Emily Mulligan  28:46  
Yeah, just like he just sounded like the kind of guy I was looking for. He had his own kids who were already grown like they were in their late teens. So he was just donating completely altruistically. So in Australia, you can't be paid at all for sperm donation or egg donation, that includes sperm banks. So I guess that takes a big reason out of going to a sperm bank. And that was true for my donor, if he was going to go donate at a sperm bank, then he wouldn't have any say and like who it was going to would just be like a free for all. And there's extensive waiting lists anyway, because there's such a shortage. And of course, that would be because you're not paid. So he liked the notion that he could meet a potential candidate who was wanting to like be a mother or mothers. So I met him and we signed like a legal contract, and he got all the necessary health screens done. And, you know, I was able to really question him, and I could really gauge his sense of humor and his personality and just it was a really incredible thing to be able to do that. 

Whereas if I'd gone through the fertility clinic, I never would have known I wouldn't have even ever seen his face and definitely would never have like heard his laugh or heard about his life and his parents lives and all that kind of thing. So it was An absolute gift. And so I impetuously and again I didn't want to wait. I just as soon as Daisy was one, I pretty much started tracking my cycle and thought I just want to do this. I think everything is like pointed me in this direction. You know at that point when you're when you've only got one child, and there's only one like you think, oh, they're just almost an adult now like growing up like if I don't do it now then when? like, anyway now I literally laugh I'm like, oh my god war for you. Do you cook that? I'm glad like but I remember looking at her and be like, Oh, she's just started growing up. 

So I had a very classy exchange with my lovely donor where he handed me a nice little specimen jar in a cafe car park around the corner from my house, and I rushed home. And I yeah, just, I honestly just had the most beautiful little experience of get impregnating myself, I guess you'd say I don't like, yeah, I just had a little ceremony. I journaled for about an hour, I had like a really amazing playlist on and I just, like, paid my respects to everything that had happened that had led me to that moment and my gratitude for my body and my mind and my spirit and my family and Daisy and particularly just like, thanking Daisy for making me a mother and making me love motherhood so much that I actually wanted to do it on my own, like further and get deeper into it, you know, on my own. Yeah, I just felt like I had that strength. So I was so so fortunate. I only had to do it one time. And yeah, two weeks later, I just could not wait. I was peeing on sticks from like, eight days post ovulation. And the good thing was actually, they were all my pregnancy tests were negative for like many, many days in a row. It was negative, negative, negative. And I was so disappointed. And that's a risky little game to play with myself, but I think it was good, because it just showed me like how deeply I really did want it. And it was like really, this like deep intuitive feel like, okay, this is the right decision for me. 

And then it turned positive. And I was like, Oh my god. So yeah, I was literally over the moon, I would have pretended that I didn't care what gender it was. But I 100% wanted another girl. So that was like, so wonderful. That idea of having sisters like raising sisters. I'd never had a sister and I just could not have scripted a better life for myself. So yeah, it was very, very lucky. So that's how the second pregnancy came about.

Danielle Bettmann  32:30  
Yeah. Oh, the girl mom and me. So agreeing, because I have two girls 15 months apart. I don't have a sister. And there's something magical about it. I feel like just getting to see them have each other. It's just the best. So great.

Emily Mulligan  32:45  
Oh my God, it is. It's so so good. They didn't even know it yet. Like that's the beauty of it. You know?

Danielle Bettmann  32:50  
Yes. They don't know anything else. But it's just a joy to parent. It really is. So I can totally see. Okay, so I love that we like I said, we are still on the edge of our seats we are following along your whole journey. And it's just such a gift to get to hear the 100% Raw, this is my story version, especially something that you'll never get to experience yourself. And so being able to know what that's like what what your thoughts were and what that took. We so respect it and appreciate it so much.

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The next piece of your story I really wanted to delve into was the PMDD. And I feel like you alluded to it a little bit. But talk us through some of the symptoms that you started discovering, and kind of like how you realize that's what it was. And what was that like?

Emily Mulligan  36:26  
Yes, so yet again, when I conceived Polly, it's like immediately my mental health just went back to being like a plateau in a good way. So like I mentioned, when I was postpartum with Daisy, up until the point I got my period back, I was completely well, completely normal. And then it was for about five months, I probably only had about five periods before getting pregnant with Polly. And every month, I just had this huge, low and then huge, high and huge low a few times absolutely debilitating. I just couldn't fathom it. And especially as having experienced, like such a depth of mental illness. When I was younger, it started to dawn on me. I was like, Wait, like, what was what would my periods like back then? And what my hormones doing? Like, I don't think anyone ever asked the question. I saw so many psychiatrists and, you know, I was in hospital at one point, and I did so many like inpatient programs, and not once did anyone not one health professional say, where are you in your cycle? Or are you on hormonal birth control? Or, you know, there was just never any discussion that that could be something correlative. It was incredible, just to go into pregnancy again. And I don't know exactly what it is about the hormones of pregnancy. But everything just went stable, which is so weird. You expect a woman to be like crazy and erratic in pregnancy. But for me and my particular mind and my makeup, I was so level headed. There was no mood swings it just every day, I was very tired. But tiredness for me isn't the same as those feelings of like depression and anxiety is coming from a whole different place. 

So then Polly, she was born just over two years ago. So yeah, she's now two. Absolutely gorgeous. We've given enough praise to her yet, but like, Oh my god. So I didn't get my period back for over a year with her. And towards the 10 month mark postpartum, I started feeling like my body was wanting to get a period like I was feeling these, like, how to describe the kind of us like, I feel like I'm ovulating right now I could get a rush of like creativity and motivation and energy, but yet, I wasn't bleeding. So I don't know, the doctors say oh, you couldn't possibly be ovulating and I'm like, okay. But then I'd also have like a really huge dip. And then a few weeks later, again, like a really big high and a big low. And so I finally got my period back with her yet almost a year ago, and exactly the same things been happening like nonstop, month after month, I've got like a spreadsheet, I can tell you the exact days of the month, like on day 20 I am going to want to throw a child like across the room like Miss Trunchbull like I just I honestly like I feel rage on that day of my cycle. And it's just this It permeates my whole body and it's a horrible feeling. And I want to speak to that because you know, it's okay, like it's so normal to feel that range of emotions, but it doesn't feel it doesn't feel authentic. Like it feels so real and so raw and me, but I also feel like it's completely controlled by something other than my mind feels like it's just like it takes over. Yeah, and it's just it feels like these hormonal urges. Like it's not something that I could even change my thoughts to change my feelings to change my actions. Like I'm very literate with like cognitive behavioral therapy and that kind of thing, but it's like, no, no, this is like, I'm embodying it like it is so different to that. So after day 21 Then about day 26-27 I am so low like I have no I find myself no faith in my business or my future. And to be honest, like, I feel like I've got the protective barriers now that I do have things going for me and like external kind of things that make it a bit easier. But there was a few months there when things weren't great in terms of like, all that sort of stuff externally. And so I could really like if I didn't really take myself seriously and like put in a lot of effort to change those thoughts and to talk to people and to seek support and to share the load with like my loved ones. It could have been really bad. And I could imagine that, yeah, like, if I didn't nip it in the bud, that's kind of the way it was going like into these real depressive episodes. And then, sure enough, as soon as I start bleeding, I snap out of it. And I'm back to completely normal while I have my period, I'm just levelheaded normal, happy content. It's so bizarre, and then I will get an upswing when I ovulate. And I can see why in the past, doctors haven't diagnosed PMDD I don't know if you've said it is premenstrual dysphoric disorder. So it is actually classified in the DSM V, whatever the official books name is, you know, it like the World Health Organization. Like they say, yeah, as of like the last publication of that it is a disorder now, whereas in the past, so many women would have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder, both of which are diagnoses that they've considered, I might have when I was younger, and yet, I never quite fit those criteria. And so I was just always left with a big question mark, like, Oh, we don't really know what's wrong with you, but you know, probably just depression and anxiety and like here's some medication, like, there you go. And so to this day, like, I still take antidepressants every day. And I'd been off mood stabilizers for the duration of my pregnancies and the doctors. When I went to the GP, a different GP, obviously, that's the doctor saying, like, I'm really concerned about my mood swings, like, it's not normal. And it's hormonal. I was like, it's, it's so clearly linked to my period. And they were just so like, not hesitant, that just dismissive of it, kind of the first thing was, okay, well, we'll put you on the pill. And that might help. And I was like, no, like, I don't just want to be tampering with my hormones, like, I just needed, like, deeper understanding. And so they sent me back to a psychiatrist, a public psychiatrist, and he was okay. I've seen him a couple of times. And he's definitely open to the idea of PMDD. But he says, it's not something he's really diagnosed before. It's like, what's very new, he said, like, Oh, my God, it's literally been around, I'm sure, for as long as humans have existed. But yeah, again, he just wanted to take that medical approach and prescribe me back on the mood stabilizers. And I was saying, Well, what about like, I want to see a naturopath and I want to, like really track my hormones and see, like, exactly what's going on. And like, what can we supplement it with? And yeah, you know, is there anything else and yeah, it's just such a shame that, you know, to do all those kinds of like, alternative therapies, none of them in Australia anyway, have any kind of subsidies. So you're like hundreds of dollars out of pocket for like every session that you might want to see an alternative health practitioner. So the now I am just kind of going through the motions, like, it's something that's, it's controlling my life to an extent in that in my calendar, like my now, I have like every day numbered, like in advance. And if my period ever is like, slightly off, I'll just change the days and I tried to plan for mothering and life and socializing based around, okay, I know that I'm going to be in a real wintry mood, like those few days. And look, I can hide it like I can easily disguise when I am feeling down, like you wouldn't be able to pick it. But for instance, like I certainly wouldn't have scheduled this for any of those days, right? The high or the low, like the high days, I can wake up at 2am and work for five hours before the kids wake up and carry on, you know, and it's beautiful. In some ways. I'm like, Oh, more of that. But it's also not sustainable. And it doesn't feel real. It doesn't feel like Right. Yeah, it doesn't feel good for my body or my mind. Sure, it can't be good for the kids. You know, it's just not long term sustainable kind of thing. So, yes, I have to plan around that I have started seeing a naturopath and I'm just honestly saving up money to do the like $1,000 hormone cycle testing thing that will be like the first point of call that we do together. And she's she's amazing in terms of knowing like the kind of supplements and the kind of diet I should be having. Once we figure out which of the hormones it is that's really causing the lows and the highs. I guess, I just need to empower myself with more knowledge like and I'm just reading a lot of books, listening to a lot of podcasts just trying to figure it out. Because yeah, it's just I will not be hostage to this for the remaining of my menstruating years. You know, and like God help me when perimenopause hits like I'm sure that's not going to be fun.

Danielle Bettmann  44:57  
Yeah, well, it feels like something that is controlling you rather than you being in control of it. So it makes sense that to you, it feels like something that with more education and understanding, there's more of a sense of control, even if you know, that doesn't impact the symptoms, to the extent that you'd like to see, at least at this point, it's totally like a relationship with it that you're trying to seek that is empowering rather than than disempowering. And I'd love to ask about that a little bit more with kind of your relationship or your perspective around it, when you started to realize that this was really what was happening, that it was undeniably linked to your cycle. How did you start to detach from that isn't me that this is my fault, or especially with the impact with parenting? You know, like, of course, it's going to affect who you are as a parent on those days throughout your cycle? Yeah. So what did you do with that as it started to become a real issue?

Emily Mulligan  46:01  
Good question. Yeah, I mean, it started feeling horrible. Like, on the days before my period, I could not imagine anything worse than like playing with the kids. And we're very playful family, like, from the beginning, like being so involved with their imaginative play. And it's just something that they look to and expect, and like they deserve to expect that because I'm the one that kind of set it up for them from the beginning. But I just like, there'll be begging or Daisy will be begging me to like be the Triceratops. And I just like, it's either the rage or the despair in me. And I have just found myself like sobbing in playgrounds, but not wanting to like scare them, but just trying to open up to them. So I just label it as clear as I can to them. And I've said, you know, mommy finds it really hard some days today, like my emotions are that I'm feeling really sad, or I'm feeling a bit angry today. Like, I know, I should really stop my feet out. And you know, I kind of the same way when they're having their huge emotions, a similar way that I would try to guide them through it, I just try to give voice to that. But I would ring up there's like an amazing organization called and a gala here. And they're like a parenting hotline, seven days a week kind of thing. So they gave me heaps of advice. And we ended up going and staying there for a week. There's an actual inpatient, early parenting hospital type place for hospital, but it's like for respite for parents, particularly if you've got like mental health problems, or like social issues, or, you know, any kind of risk factors. So I after having had lots of conversations them and being like, I just can't do another month of these few days in particular, parenting like, it's literally not feasible, like I, and it's so hard to describe to people like my mom, like she always suffered from endometriosis. And you know, she's from that generation where she's like, you know, well, everyone gets PMT. Like, it's normal. When I'm like, no, like, I can't describe to you like, I It's like darkness, like, in my heart. Like, it scares me how dark it gets. And I have to, like, be so clear, and articulate that so well. And like, it's not just, oh, yeah, I'm a little bit like annoyed today, or like, a little bit fragile. It's like, I want to ram that car in front of me. Like if they and I guess, again, it's people are probably like, yeah, I feel that too. But yeah, I don't know how to give enough. Like how to convey strongly enough. It's so severely, such a complete departure from like, how I usually am and like, who I know myself to be like, truly who I am. So I try and organize like childcare for those main days, I can book in like, extra casual days, their daycare center, I have just opened up that conversation with like my support network. When I first realized probably about six months ago, that this was yet undeniably hormonal. I sent a group message to Oh, no, I made a Facebook event actually. And I included like, probably 16 of my closest friends. And I just kind of explained it in that. And I said, this is what's going on. And I honestly think that perhaps this is what was always wrong, inverted commas, you know, with me over time, like, all the bouts of like, so called depression and anxiety I had, like, I think it was probably hormonal the whole time. And I wonder if like my grandmother and my mother and like her mother, like, is it something that has been inherited through our bloodline? And so yeah, I just thought help from my friends. I said, Look, I can't even bear the thought of like going to the grocery store. I've got no food in the fridge. Like, I can't entertain the girls today. Like, I just need help. And I'm so thankful like, I've cried again, like I've just, yeah, within like an hour of posting that. I think I had four friends at my door. Someone was like, I'm taking the kids to the park and like to have them wrapped up with food and like, someone was like, Okay, I've gone and got these incredible vegetarian meals made and let alone like, it just kept going. Like they just And then I also found out my lease had just been entered the same week, it was just like such a nuts period. So they my friends are just incredible. And they've all been rallying around me, they've all been just checking in, like, where are you in your cycle? And like, what do you need? And I'm just being honest, because I would want them to be honest, I think everyone deserves that. And that's the only way we're going to get anywhere with this disorder in the future is like, you know, we just give if someone was diabetic, and you know, they needed help, or if it was like a physical illness, like, it's the same, that normal mental illness stuff, you know, like, we just write, we deserve that support. And I truly hope that if anyone hears this and that they're struggling with it, like, it's so hard, because it's so invisible. But I just do the bare minimum on the bad days, and I probably make up for it on the better days. And as long as I'm just giving my girls that literacy, that it's okay, like, Yes, I'm having these swings. That's normal, that's human, that's woman. And, you know, it might be something that they also have to deal with when they're teenagers or onwards. And I'm just glad that I'm gonna be able to start from like, day one of their first period, knowing like, Okay, that was started clean slate. Let's just keep you guys in check. And I'm just hoping, yeah, that it can be different for them.

Danielle Bettmann  51:19  
Yeah. So for a mom that feels like you're putting words to something I'm experiencing, but like, I don't know, for sure. And I just feel a little bit crazy. Because, you know, it's all in my head, or Yeah, it's invisible, or, you know, my doctors or practitioners, you know, haven't said that, or don't give validity to that. What do you want them to know, sooner than later? What did you realize that you just feel like, you know, when given the platform you wanna be able to speak to? 

Emily Mulligan  51:48  
Yeah, definitely just start tracking it. Like, that's your most powerful weapon is just really like, every single day, I would have like some statements in my phone. And I kind of would like, look at the statements and be like, yes, that is true today, or that is true today. And I would then have that on paper, and even like, made myself like a little graph that I printed off, and I would truly track it with just stuff I'd seen for like mood disorders in the past, I just adapted it to be more to do with like, how I'm feeling as a mother, like, do I have any motivation, like it was things that I could really see a marked difference in, in terms of like, wanting to play wanting to engage with the kids? Like, do I have a reluctance to socialize with like, other friends with other kids? Like, does that feel unbearable? Like just kind of what do I feel like I can take on often it would be like, I have this massive urge to do like the most sensory play possible, I'm like, up at midnight dying, like five different colors of rice, and you know, like, all of this and so that I be able to track it, like so clearly be like, Oh, my God, and versus is the kitchen sink, like four days a month, absolutely overflowing, and, you know, just break down looking at it, like, just really getting to know those differences for you individually. And like what they look like, and being able to just see exactly what the main emotions are, I guess, and let the behaviors that are linked to those emotions. With depression, it was more when I'm looking through the lens of like a mental illness, which this is a mental illness, but it's slightly different. Like when you're looking at depression, I think of the thoughts as being like the main thing that's kind of screwing with you. Whereas with this, it's more like the feelings are there on their own. And there's not necessarily thoughts like, I didn't wake up feeling like, Oh, I'm a terrible mother, and that it's just this like, overarching feeling. So I guess that's the difference. But then, like for both of those things, it's like, obviously, they affect your behaviors. So the behaviors for me and the actions I'm taking, they're like, the biggest clues they give the most insight.

Danielle Bettmann  54:02  
Again, it's it's something that we haven't had vocabulary around. We haven't had a lot of like a, you know matriarchy or generations were able to be in the same room and compare, you know, stories and experiences and really be able to glean wisdom from each other of like, oh, yeah, that happens to me too. And I can now connect the dots. I feel like I'm, I don't even know... 37. And I'm still starting to realize like, what my highs and lows look like and just being able to articulate them and be able to help my partner understand why I just feel darkness for no other reason. And it's not anybody else's fault. And even trying to know like what I need on those days, and what was going to be successful and trying not to push myself too far for no reason. Like that's all still new and And I've had a period for 20 something years. So that's not cool. Yeah, anymore. No, like, we don't deserve to live in like this mystery world of just like, well, we're just, you know, women crazy.

Emily Mulligan  55:14  
Absolutely. I know, like, why they're not teaching this stuff in schools, like as if you need the algebra, but you know, you've got the Pythagoras theorem that talking like I do, you know, I, yeah, you definitely need so much more education about it. And it was such a squirmish topic. I remember, like maybe one health lesson when you're 12 talking about the period and like how to use a patch. But that's not, that's not useful. Yeah, like, we need it. Because you can actually harness it like I have found. It's also a beauty like in that knowing when my my up swings are going to be even though I feel like they're too up. I still know that. Like, they're powerful. And they're like, when I can make huge changes, and I can do big things and scary things. And that's great, you know, and like they're the days I want to like plan to take the kids to the theme parks. And that's awesome. You know, that is really empowering thing as well. So it's not all bad.

Danielle Bettmann  56:08  
It's like learning to surf the wave, almost like surfing.

Emily Mulligan  56:14  
Left Behind Jessica.

Danielle Bettmann  56:15  
Yeah, everybody can see it, obviously. No, that's in raising girls. I feel like it's definitely something I want to empower them with way sooner than later. Like you said, that's going to be such a gift. Like our generation is doing most of the heavy lifting and trying to make these changes possible on a bigger scale. So we'd need each other, we need our stories, we need to be able to compare notes. Yes. And so so so important. One other random thing you had mentioned that I can't not address is you said, Chat GPT has made you a better parent. Oh, what are the tips? Like unlock them for us?

Emily Mulligan  56:57  
Oh, my God, it's truly like... Okay, so my brother, he's my tech guy. He told me about Chat GPT, like, in its very early days, and I just I should have capitalized on this. Like, there's so much from it. Basically, it's gonna take your job, Danielle, like, I'm sorry, but I've I should have pulled up my history on tattoo fatigue. But I think like, Daisy is having a meltdown because she wants the pink plate using positive discipline approach. How can I help her through this without her assaulting her sister, blah, blah, blah. And it will be like, okay, here are your 12 steps. And it's bang like that. Like, it's so hilarious. I've used it for incredible things. But also and, and this has been even better. Like I was saying how engaged I am with the kids and they're playing particularly on my down days. I just, I can't keep up with them. And I don't want to and I like for instance, Daisy also really loves trains like with her little like Thomas the Tank Engine, or whatever his name is. And she always wanted me to like make up storylines for Thomas. And when I am lacking in imagination, I have now got a file on my phone, like there's a file, trains. There's a file for dinosaurs. There's a file for her Sylvanian families. And basically, I've had Chat GPT compile a list of like, 40 storylines to play. And I've given touch up t like the specific trains and specific characters that Daisy has. And it makes up these like complete stories. I've even gone so far as to be like, okay, but I want to really like pull out some morals here and like, how can we teach empathy and compassion? And how can we model like being a good big sister Baba, and it's incredible. Like what? I will, I will have to send you some screenshots of what I've got, because it's beautiful.

Danielle Bettmann  58:47  
It really is an amazing technology. It's absolutely crazy.

Emily Mulligan  58:49  
Even just to be like, Okay, I have got fussy eater children in the fridge. I've got eggs, cheese, tomatoes, spinach, and carrots. Tell me like an easy recipe I can make for my children and it'll just like give them to me straight away, like so good. Wow, that's fantastic.

Danielle Bettmann  59:08  
That's so cool. We admire you for being able to harness that technology before the rest of us. I know I've experimented a little bit but I very much have a lack of object permanence brain so if it's not like on my home screen, I just forget it exists. So to me, I have still not even tapped into the potential I'll ask it sometimes for like podcast titles to like generate them on certain topics. So I can kind of like write something a little bit better. But yeah, there's so so much there and I love hearing what that's like at your house.

Emily Mulligan  59:40  
Oh my gosh, yeah. Oh, it's terrifying. Like its capabilities. Yeah, it's insane.

Danielle Bettmann  59:46  
Okay, so that brings us to the last thing we are here to talk about, which is your new project.

Emily Mulligan  59:51  
Oh my gosh, yes.

Danielle Bettmann  59:52  
Where did that start? And tell us everything.

Emily Mulligan  59:55  
Okay, so Well, sorry. lights me up. Like I honestly get so excited about it. Yeah. The funniest thing, which like I didn't really delve into is, like the whole of my early motherhood was kind of tainted, in a way, by me wanting to have a business of my own, I kind of thought when I accepted that redundancy package from Virgin, like, got enough education, now I'd done it like a life coach certification. And I imagined that like, I could have some kind of career in coaching or in personal development, and I had all these different ideas. And as typical as I get, I just would like waste multiple weeks, like fiddling with like Canva and, and my like websites and all of that sort of thing and writing Instagram captions, and then just deleting it or not publishing a thing, or I'd publish it for like a day and then deleted and it was horrible. And that's what I was just grinding myself up about. Because I felt like I was just such a failure that the kids like, I didn't think it was fair for them to have this mum who just had no potential in my opinion. And it was so hard because the further it got from having been at university and the further away from like, having worked for Virgin like even at Virgin I've had like other little roles to do with mental health and wellness. And so the longer I was leaving it being out of like a career when I hadn't even really had a proper career, I was just starting to kind of get scared that like, what was life gonna look like, for me having been such a highly driven younger person. And living in this time where it's not necessarily celebrated just being a stay at home mom, even though no one else was putting that judgment on me. And like everyone was, you know, encouraging me and telling me what a beautiful mom I am. And I felt it and, and I knew that I was absolutely happiest as a mom, like, you know, it's something I proudly admit. And so that was like kind of going on in the background, I was spending all my time away from the kids working on these, like businesses in inverted commas because nothing was coming of them. 

I'd do like a few free sessions for people, but then panic and never contact them again, and just literally ghost them and like, it was awful. Like, I just don't know what I was doing. Then I in my spare time, which wasn't much but often when I was like nap trapped when I was breastfeeding Polly, I started really thinking about the legacy, I wanted to leave my girls and in particular Polly, because I have like knowingly willingly deprived her of another parent, you know, I think that's a huge responsibility I need to accept. And there's a lot of things I do to make sure that, you know, she's not an awful disadvantage by not having a dad, but I just I kept coming across articles in the media or friends of friends, you know, posting on Facebook of these young mums passing away, suddenly, you know, either in childbirth, you know, this is the 21st century, like childbirth or have some rare, aggressive cancer in six weeks, or, yeah, there was about five women in the space of six months that I came across, and I was like, Holy shit, like, if something happens to me, and I should say I was under surveillance for a cancer my appendix at that point. So it was in front of mind. And thank goodness, I've been cleared now, but I was going into like my most recent laparoscopy and it just like really dawned on me, like they could open me up and like God knows what they'll find. But that could be true for any of us, like, you know, the moment we're born, we're all going to die like and it's such a harsh, uncomfortable truth. And we shy away from it, we don't talk about it, there's no death education, like we just live in this little, like, hopeful, imaginary bubble that you know, of mortality. But the truth is, like, statistically speaking, like, some of us have to go, you know, before the curve, like it's awful. Yeah. So basically, while Snapchat, as I say, I started compiling this just like love filled file for the girls. And originally, it was like little bits to do with, like, each age, they were going to be just in case something happened to me, be it the cancer, or me getting hit by a car walking to get a coffee, you know, whatever. So it was like all these ages that they were going to turn I was just reflecting on the wisdom that I'd glean during that age or like some of the key memories I had that I hope and I still hope that I get to share with them when they are six and when they are 10 and 15 and 21. But just in case especially because there's no one that knows me inside out the way that I'm sure a lot of mothers do have a partner. I just wanted to protect my legacy. I wanted to give them the best chance they had of like knowing me of knowing the women in their assembly history and especially things like to do with these hormones problems and the mental health stuff I've been through and me knowing that I was so predisposed to like judging myself so harshly like I'm sure that they're going to face those struggles too and Polly like I really wanted to make sure that she could understand like, why I chose to have her like why she is why they both are the light of my life. So I was like love letters to them and little bits of wisdom and I got actually compiled, like, all these different pieces of advice. And I told my brother before that laparoscopy, I said, Look just by the way, like, I know I'm being a bit like, you know, doesn't have to be all ominous. But I do have this file, and he looked at it and he got really emotional. And he's like, biggest cynic. He doesn't want kids is like, not intuitive at all. But he was like, fucking like, this is incredible. Like, I cannot believe you've done this like, like, whoa, like, I cannot believe this. But he, like I said before, he's also the tech guy. And he's like, but hang on, I can like make this way, way, way cooler. And I was like, What do you mean? And so he basically brought me into this, like whole software land of making this whole like database, almost like portal into who I am and who I've been and who I want them to be. And he helped me learn to like code it and automate it and put all the dates in, like automatically. And basically, now I've got little cards for all the milestones that they're going to reach. So like when they graduate high school when they have their first baby. And it doesn't have to be like this huge daunting process that you go through. But it's like, if you're waiting at the doctor, instead of looking at tick tock for five minutes, like get out your project and just be like, What am I feel inspired to write today? And you can look at all the topics that you've said, like, oh, yeah, I want to do that. I want to write that one. I want to write that one. And you know, that day, you might just feel inspired to be like, oh, yeah, like I loved playing netball in high school. And like, you can do voice recordings, you can post videos, you can post photos. 

So basically, I developed that. And then in a Facebook group, back in April, I saw an anonymous post from someone who said that she had terminal cancer, and that she was looking for some budget keepsake ideas. And I commented saying, Look, this is like, perhaps a bit like geeky of me. And it's something I'm only doing like, you know, for myself and my girls, but if you want like I'd be honored to like make you one for your daughter, like not at all for money, like this is just you know, if this would be helpful, I'm not sure. But I posted a few like screen grabs of like what I was doing for my girls, and I woke up the next day to hundreds of comments, hundreds of messages and likes and people this group it just like taken off. It just went nuts. And all weekend, like could not pick up my phone without like someone else telling me that their mom died when they were five. And they wish they'd had this and someone else saying their husband's got brain cancer. And can I do this and it's like, I've never been so overcome with emotion and like, never felt like, oh my god, this is my purpose. You know, like, it's by still, like, if I talk about it, I'll get teary because it's just, it feels like such a privilege. Because it's something that's it's so untapped. And I don't even look at it as like, Oh, I'm gonna make money off this. It's like, No, I could literally change people's existences because the people that become customers like once this is a proper up and running business, the very happiest customer will never know how happy they are. Because sadly, it'll mean that they did the project, and they died. But their kids now have it, you know, and like that is just so incredible. And so basically with the help of my brother after that huge takeoff of the idea, and all this encouragement and people basically begging me to create it for them or to have a website. I've just been like working the oddest hours in every naptime. And after every bedtime, I just like jump on my laptop, and I'm trying to get it ready for the masses. So it's called the Love Mum Project mom with a you know, Mum, mom, but I'm still figuring out exactly how it's going to look and how I'm going to sell it or donated or whatever it is, I certainly know that I am driven to make change and make an impact. And I would never want to take $1 from someone that actually does have a terminal illness. So that's always going to be part of the philosophy is like I want to be able to gift it to anyone that is facing that absolute tragedy. And that feels good as well. Because I think in all the things that I've like, tried to achieve in my life, doing good for the world is like that ultimate thing. And now like doing good, and like being able to show my daughters that I'm doing good, like nothing is better than that. Nothing's better than that. And that it's to do with my girls. Like it's just, it's all born out of the love that I have for them and just wanting to be able to parent them. Like even if I'm not here, you know, it's just an absolute gift. So I know that sounds very convoluted, and I'm yet to like work out an elevator pitch or anything because it's still in its very early days.

Danielle Bettmann  1:09:25  
But no, no. All you need to know is the heart behind it, which you articulated so well. And yeah, you gave me a little preview. And it's so cool because I it's the same piece of mine that you get by having life insurance. Like there's something that's very comforting that if something were to happen to me tomorrow, that my family would be able to continue life at like the state of living they currently do. And to me it's like of course you know, they there's so much and it would be incredibly impact. For but, you know, that's one thing that makes me feel a little bit better about it. And something like this is so much peace of mind. Of course, we, we want to be able to impart so much of like who we are so that they just, we just want to know, because there's such an identity piece wrapped up in like, I don't know my story so I don't feel grounded as a kid, you know, without being able to have these questions answered. And I laugh because some of the example, you know, advice pieces, I was like, Oh, I have nothing for that. Figure that out for myself. Yeah, first. But so much of it is like, Oh, yes, I know exactly what I really want them to have as like takeaways for their body image or takeaways for, you know, this particular aspect of their life. And it's truly, so needed. So cool. So excited to support you in getting to kind of share that message with as many families as possible because we deserve to feel like a part of us lives on in a way that is so meaningful to our kids.

Emily Mulligan  1:11:03  
Yeah. Oh, thanks, Danielle. Yeah, no, it's I'm just lit up. Like I'm so excited to see what unfolds from it. So thank you.

Danielle Bettmann  1:11:13  
So if and when you know, you have everything running, we're going to have everything linked in the show notes for future listeners to be able to jump in and start theirs. So definitely go track down Emily, her Instagram or her website and start yours, because I think it's going to be so, so so cool. And yeah, hopefully it's, you know, something that you get to refer to while you're still here.

Emily Mulligan  1:11:38  
Exactly, it's never going to be a waste of time. Because even if you're the one that's like giving it to them, and that 21 You can like laugh about it. And you know, it's just beautiful and static. And it's funny, it goes back to that master's project I was working on about like writing being cathartic and how good it is for your mental health. Like I'm very reflective person. And it's just done wonders for me to be able to like really pull apart those key defining moments in my life. And like, yeah, the heartbreaks and the triumphs, and give that to not just my kids, but like, pull the lessons and the positives. 

And in that hindsight, and yeah, oh, even if, you know, doesn't ever go anywhere, feel shared with anyone, it's still good for you to do. Yeah, yeah. Well, you've put a lot of thought into it, and it shows and it's only gonna grow, I think in the ways that you're able to use it. So I'm really, really excited for you. Thank you. Okay, so to wrap up, the very last question I asked every guest is how are you, the mom that your kids need? And I feel like you've answered it the whole time. But you can see. How are you the mom that Daisy and Polly need?

Oh, you know what, bring it back to how one might have said that I was failing motherhood at the pool yesterday. I also think it was just such an amazing example of being like that mum that they do need because as much as my mum would have tried her hardest, like, I would have been so badly told off for behaving that way I would have been shamed, I would have been told, like, look, and everyone was sitting at you, you know, like you're carrying on You're so embarrassing Beauvoir and I would have been punished, I would have been dragged out of there or, you know, like being told, like, wait till your father gets home and that kind of thing. But instead, I just was getting emotional. Like, I just Yeah, I reflected on it afterwards. And I was like, all that came out of it. At the end of that huge meltdown was a huge hug with me, we made a compromise that we were going to make some smiley chips at home in the air fryer. And that I was proud of her. Because, you know, it felt really yucky to be so upset about the box. And you know, I was able to put it in my memory that next time, I wouldn't break up the box the way I did. And, you know, we just walked out of that pool handed hand her skipping and laughing and I just stood like, you know what, we've bonded more over this. And Polly was there witnessing the whole thing. So it's kind of, you know, hopefully will flow on positively for her too. So yeah, I think that's, that's the man they need, like someone that is like present in the moment and has that insight to be like, I am raising you for the long term. And I know you're going to be these remarkable women one day, and I'm just going to try and incrementally feed you with the support you need and the love you need to get you there. And hopefully I'm there with them. But yeah.

Danielle Bettmann  1:14:30  
So beautiful. They're so lucky to have you make sure you save the link for this episode in your love mom project for them, so that they can listen to this day.

Emily Mulligan  1:14:40  
Yeah, I will. Oh my goodness. Absolutely.

Danielle Bettmann  1:14:44  
So So. So.

Emily Mulligan  1:14:46  
Thank you, Danielle.

Danielle Bettmann  1:14:47  
Thank you, Emily, for your whole story. Again, I feel like this was just still a snippet of your wisdom and your story and you know, we had to compile it into an hour. So thanks for coming on. I'm for the ride and for being so vulnerable and honest and just your willingness to be here and to support what I'm doing. It's just, I admire you so much. You're clearly such a good intentional mom. And just phenomenal in the ways that you are self aware. I just can't say enough about how thankful I am to have

Emily Mulligan  1:15:26  
Baris Beautiful.

Danielle Bettmann  1:15:29  
Okay, so before we keep getting well, we'll record but again, thank you so much for your time. And I'm so excited for this episode.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms note they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.

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