Rolling down the hallway in my wheelchair, my twin daughters bounced on my knees.
‘Faster Mummy!’ Olivia and Ziana, two, giggled.
Hearing a roar of laughter from the lounge room, I knew their dad Carlo, 52, was chuckling at our antics.
And I felt on top of the world.
My little family is perfect.
I might be wheelchair-bound, but my two girls make me feel like I can fly.
When I was 12, I was in a horrific horseriding accident.
My friend and I were riding through the bush when something in the foliage startled my stud.
As he weaved in and out of the trees at high speed, I held on for dear life.
Then I saw a fallen tree branch resting across the path – floating at about head height.
Gripping tighter on the reins, I ducked.
But the branch grazed my head before clipping my back and I was flung off.
My L3 vertebra was shattered and my spinal cord was folded in half.
At hospital, it took surgeons nine hours to pick out the shards of bone floating around my body.
Numb from the waist down, I was an L1 complete paraplegic and needed a wheelchair.
I struggled with this diagnosis.
Going to school for the first time, I could feel everyone staring.
My parents, Russell and Tracey, were so encouraging.
‘You can do this,’ they said, when I got upset.
I want to live life to the fullest, I thought.
So I worked hard at physio and occupational therapy in the hope of becoming independent.
And incredibly, three years after the accident, I started getting movement back in my legs.
‘I still can’t feel them though,’ I told the doctors.
With no explanation for it, I was now officially an ‘incomplete’ paraplegic, meaning that because the injury hadn’t completely severed my spinal cord, some neural circuits between the brain and body still existed.
The unexpected passing of my amazing dad and my sister Tara, 32, just pushed me to keep fighting.
Throwing myself into rehab, I eventually learnt how to walk again.
I still relied on my wheelchair, but I could stand and grab things from the kitchen cupboards or walk myself from the chair to the lounge.
‘How are you doing this?’ my friends cheered.
The truth was, I didn’t even know!
‘I know it sounds silly, but I just imagine my spinal cord reconnecting,’ I laughed.
Nineteen years on from the accident, I learnt how to read my body enough to know when I could stand and when I should wheel.
When I met Carlo through friends, we enjoyed a romantic life just like any other couple.
Then one morning, I woke up not feeling right.
At the doctors, I had a blood test.
‘Bonnie,’ my GP said, ‘you’re pregnant!’
‘What!’ I laughed in shock.
I assumed I’d never be able to have children, so I hadn’t even thought to ask doctors if it was possible.
Grabbing my phone, I called my nanna Linda.
‘It all makes sense, it’s your dad’s birthday. He is certainly smiling on you today!’ she squealed.
Carlo was so happy too.
At our six-week scan, the ultrasound technician stopped in her tracks.
‘It’s twins!’ she smiled.
‘You’re joking?!’ Carlo and I blurted.
I was over the moon to become a mum – now instantly I was a mum-of-two!
With twins on Dad’s side, it was another beautiful sign he was with me on this journey.
I decided it was probably best to use my wheelchair full time.
‘I have to make sure they cook properly!’ I laughed.
In time, we found out we were expecting girls, and at 37 weeks, I had a planned C-section.
Olivia and Ziana were healthy and perfect.
‘I never thought I would experience motherhood,’ I said, tearing up.
With special lowered cots, change tables and highchairs, my home was transformed into a wheelchair and baby friendly environment.
Some days, I was so tired I felt like a zombie, but it was all worth it when my girls snuggled into the crooks of my arms.
As they’ve grown up, if I ever can’t muster the strength to move, Olivia will tuck me into bed.
‘Mummy’s sick,’ she’ll say.
My two kind girls are so thoughtful.
Other days I will find them pushing each other around in my chair, like a cyclone!
Climbing up onto my lap, they wrap their little arms around me.
‘Mummy,’ they coo squeezing me tight.
I can’t imagine living my life without these two cheeky monkeys.
When we go out, I do see people staring and I know what they’re thinking – how can I raise two little girls and be in a wheelchair?
But I want to get rid of the stigma that different is harder.
I may not be able to walk every day, but that doesn’t impact my ability to be the best mother out there.
Because we are just three girls on the ride of our lives!