14 Feb

Jayden & Milena’s love story

Jayden is a proud husband and dad to two girls as well as Synapse’s National Brain Bank Panelist and Local Engagement Officer in Sydney. Jayden was in a motorcycle accident in 2017, which saw him suffer a brain injury. In 2019, two years after his injury, Jayden met his now wife Milena.

Our team met with Jayden and his wife Milena, to chat about how they met and their relationship.

Do you have any advice for someone with a brain injury who’s looking for love?

Jayden: “When it comes to dating, it’s very similar to before your brain injury. You have to put yourself forward and out there to meet people. Nothing’s changed. Don’t get disheartened if you get knocked back, just keep moving forward finding ways to get back out there and stay confident that you’ll find someone.”

How did you meet?

Jayden: “We met online, on tinder. It was by chance, as our houses in Sydney were too far away and typically the app wouldn’t have connected us. Yet that day Milena was visiting the beach just north from where I was living, so we were in the right proximity.”

Milena: “I had the day off work, and I didn’t wanna stay at home. I just wanted to visit any beach in New South Wales. So, I decided to take the train and I headed south to find a nice beach. I stopped at a beach, which was beautiful. I almost went to another beach which was a few stops earlier, we may not have connected if I had.”

Jayden: “We lived about two hours away from each other, so it was a bit tricky to catch up. We kept dating despite the distance, we called and messaged each other daily. Then the pandemic hit.”

“I remember talking to my mum and dad about moving back home, as where I was living was a small area with only a local IGA and I couldn’t get access to much food or supplies. So, I moved home and drove back and forth to see Milena and go on dates. Then the heavy lockdowns happened, and my dad said to me ‘let Milena move in’ and that’s when she moved in with me.”

What do you enjoy doing together?

Milena: “When we were dating, we decided to go looking for the best burger restaurant in Sydney.”

Jayden: “We tried heaps of places but settled on Milky Lane in Cronulla as the best. It has good burgers, and the vibe is good too. They were playing Latin music when we went, which was fun for us because Milena was teaching me Spanish at the time,” said Jayden.

“Before getting married and having babies, we used to do dance lessons together and do normal things that couples do like go to the cinemas and out to dinner. Since having kids, everything has changed. Now we go to things like the Jurassic World exhibition at Olympic Park, the zoo, crocs playland, and kids’ birthday parties.”

Milena: “In Colombia, we love to dance and Jayden was very keen to learn, so we took dancing classes (like bachata and salsa). Before kids, we tried to find a restaurant that offered Colombian or Latin American food as I missed food from home and wanted to show Jayden my culture. Now that we have two beautiful baby girls we try to have as much quality time as a family as possible.”

“We used to stay up until 2 am watching movies, now we’re in bed by 9 pm because we have to get up early for children’s birthday parties, baptisms, and making time to do fun activities with our girls.  We don’t just live for ourselves now but for our babies.”

“It’s important to be more aware and not dismiss someone right away, as they may be living with a brain injury or disability.” – Milena. 

When did you decide to get married?

Milena: “Jayden was mature and very family-orientated and that was what I was looking for. Everything I wanted he had. I also loved that he was very patient with me because I was learning English, and he wanted to learn Spanish, which was great!”

“From when we met, we realised we shared the same values and goals in life. That gave us the opportunity to have a family together. During the pandemic, we got engaged and were married in Gerringong, which was a place that we both loved.”

Jayden: “Because of my brain injury, I talk very slowly. That worked well as Milena could understand me better than other people while she was learning English. It made it quite easy to communicate even with the language barrier. But from when we met, we realised we had the same goal of having a family and had the same values.”

Tell us about the wedding

Jayden: “We got married on the 24th of October on a hill in Gerringong, overlooking the water. There were six of us, we just had the celebrant and immediate family. It rained on our wedding day, but it held off the whole way through our ceremony. We said the I dos and had our first kiss as it started to sprinkle, then in the afternoon it bucketed down.”

“We actually got married in secret, so our other family and friends didn’t know. Then a few weeks later we invited all our friends to a restaurant, making the invitation all very low-key and casual. Then it was a huge surprise for everyone when we played our wedding video and Milena walked out in her dress.”

Milena: “I had to fix my dress twice before the night as I was four months pregnant, so I had a little belly. It was a double surprise for our friends. To tell them we got married and were pregnant!”

“We also did our first dance then at the restaurant for everyone. We started with a slow song then there was a scratch in the music, and we did the salsa.”

What has worked well in your relationship?

Jayden: “Working as a team and playing to each other’s strengths. With things that I can’t do, Milena picks up that slack and something that Milena can’t do I pick that up. An example is changing our daughter’s nappies. I couldn’t do that after three months as she moved too much, and I have limited use of the left side of my body after my injury. So, when Milena is changing the nappy I’m distracting our daughter, getting the wipes, taking the dirty nappy to the bin – doing what I can to make Milena’s job easier.

“As our eldest daughter grows, I’m able to communicate more with her. Let her know how we need to adjust things to account for my disability and she understands.”

Milena: “For the partner of someone with a brain injury, it’s important to understand what a brain injury is and how that impacts the person in their day to day. Knowing that can help make certain situations easier as you learn not to judge them in certain situations by how they’re acting because you know what’s happening and that it’s a result of their injury.”