Meet Kajal …of all trades!
Hi I’m Kajal Maharaj, a qualified optometrist turned stay at home mom.

In 2011, I opened my own practice and built a successful business from scratch. I ran it for 5 years.

Then I left it all behind to be a full time mother to my two beautiful children..and I wouldn’t change it for the world. 

They’re my biggest blessing, my children, but they were also my biggest struggle. 

After months of bed rest because of a condition called intra-uterine birth constriction, I unexpectedly had to deliver my son at 35 weeks. Little did I know, my exclamations of “But I can still feel that!” would be brushed off, and I would be given a caesar only partially anethetised. It resulted in me being put to sleep immediately after my son was born and me only seeing him many hours after his birth. I don’t even have a picture with him in the delivery room.

If that wasn’t enough, I also had a CSF leak from my spine. The blood patch they used to fix the leak was the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced. I went home a zombie after that week in NICU. I barely recognized myself. I was also in so much pain for 3 weeks because of a rushed surgical closure..and I thought it was all normal. I looked at this child and could barely believe he was mine. He wasn’t a great sleeper (still isn’t, at 9 years old) and had a cow’s milk allergy, which caused reflux and colic for over 6 months. I was also 20kgs heavier than I had ever been. I suppose it would have been a wonder if I DIDN’T develop severe post partum depression. I didn’t know then, but I wouldn’t recognize myself for at least another 2 years. 

You would think life would have started to cut me some slack after all that. Well, not quite. 

When we felt it was time for a second child, during a period of intense darkness in my life, I experienced miscarriage after miscarriage. 4 in total. I saw doctor after doctor. I was even misdiagnosed and advised to take blood-thinning injections for a while. I would hold my breath at each ultrasound, hoping that the little heartbeat would still be visible. 

Each loss was worse than the next as we sank deeper into the depths of despair, wondering if we would ever have that little girl we constantly dreamt about.

The process consumed me. It defined me. Our whole lives become centered around this “mystery” as the doctors called it… until I miraculously reached 16 weeks with my daughter. 

Then came another challenge; we were informed of a chromosome abnormality. We were given the option of an amniocentesis, which ironically carries a miscarriage risk. Naturally, after what we’d just been through, we refused. 

5 months later, we were blessed with our perfect little girl and she changed my entire outlook on life. It put everything into perspective for me and although I find it difficult to admit that any good came from my experience, I know that it has ultimately made me a far better human being. There is very little that will truly upset me anymore. I’m more about the happy and the fun than I’ve ever been. 

During the hardest times of my life, the smallest acts of kindness and compassion got me through the days where I didn’t want to get out of bed. 

When Rio asked me to write this piece for her, I was so honored but just as surprised. My story isn’t all that interesting. My achievements aren’t particularly remarkable. 

I’m just your average girl next door trying to get through life with a purpose. The more I wonder about what that purpose is, the more I realise that it isn’t the awe-inspiring and the extraordinary that will change the world, but kindness, compassion, and the everyday act of serving others. Because you never truly know what struggles the people around you are facing.