ABOUT Rowena

Like many parents, before becoming a health practitioner, I found it challenging to care for my three children as babies and toddlers. There were times when they would not eat, appeared to fight to go to sleep, woke repeatedly during the night, and cried for reasons that at the time I didn’t understand… but later would.

I had more experience than most before becoming a parent. I was the eighth in a family of nine children, and so, before having my own, I would at times babysit one or more of my 17 nieces and nephews. I was a registered nurse and midwife with experience working in pediatric and postnatal wards. Based on these experiences, I felt confident that caring for a baby of my own would be “easy”. I was so naïve! While I knew how to “care” for a baby, I was not prepared for the reality of parenting 24/7.

There were fun times, but the early years of my children’s lives were marred by chronic sleep deprivation, postpartum depression and second-guessing every decision I made. Consequently, I would not describe those years as “enjoyable”.

If it were not for the difficulties I experienced in caring for my children as babies, my career may have taken a different path. Having suffered postpartum depression twice, I wanted to help other women experiencing similar problems. And so I decided to train as a mental health nurse once my youngest started school. It was during my training that I learned about ‘behavioral theories’. What an eye opener that was! I realized how much easier it could have been in those early years had I understood just how influential my actions, as my child’s parent, were on his or her behavior. This realization spurred me on to learn more.

I later trained as a child health nurse. (Australia is one of only a handful of countries that train child health nurses to facilitate well-baby health checks and provide health education and parenting advice). During training, I received education on child growth and development, the physical and emotional health of children, and the reasons and solutions to common baby care problems.