Did you expect to become a mother?
I think I always knew I wanted to be a mother, I grew up with four sisters and there is ten years between the youngest and me. We used to help mum change nappies and I knew I wanted to have my own one day. When I met my husband I wanted to be a mum straight away!
How are you like your own mum?
In a practical sense, my mum and I both love to read and write and we are both quite creative. We’re both also teachers. In an emotional sense, we are both natural worriers. We worry about our children, mostly, but also about every little thing that life throws at us. I try hard not to be the same as my mum in some ways as I know that there are parts of her life she would change now if she could.
How do you differ from your own mum?
My mum NEVER puts herself first and I think that sometimes you have to. She isn’t very good at standing up for herself and I am learning that this is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. She also hates to complain, from how people treat her to bad service in a restaurant. She would rather get on with things and suffer in silence. I used to be so similar but since my son was born I’ve realised that there are times when you have to complain, you have to fight to get something for yourself and you have to let people help you.
Please tell us about your achievements since becoming a mum (including parenting ones)?
I started teacher training when my daughter was two and completed my qualified teacher status when she was four and I was four months pregnant with my son. That was a huge achievement and I did it because I wanted a career my children could be proud of. Since my son was born, coming to terms with his birth has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do and there was a time when I thought I wouldn’t actually be able to be a mother to my son. His birth was so traumatic and I really struggled to bond with him. On top of that, he suffers with reflux and food intolerances and so spends a lot of time in pain, unless his medication is spot on. In the early days, he would sleep for only forty minutes at a time and would scream constantly. Sometimes just getting through the day in one piece was my only goal. Since I started blogging about my experiences, I have met other women who have been through similar situations and the support I have been given has been amazing.
Describe your most challenging time in working towards your achievement?
The most challenging thing I have been expected to do was to accept my son as the baby that had been inside me. He was born via emergency section and they used GA to knock me out. When I first saw my son he was an hour old, clean and with a name. I really struggled to accept that he was mine. I was given no support at the hospital and so I was expected to just take care of him, no questions asked and no advice given. He screamed constantly, he was ill and nobody seemed to think there was anything wrong. I was ill and nobody seemed to notice that either. The early days were so dark because I was so scared that there was something seriously wrong with my baby and I felt so ashamed for thinking that I didn’t want him. I constantly compared him to his sister and felt awful for doing that.
Describe the moment that you felt most like an achiever?
There were many days when I thought that I would just run away and leave it all behind. The turning point came when my doctor diagnosed me with Post Natal Depression. I had gone to see him because I was having trouble sleeping and was feeling anxious all the time. I couldn’t eat and was exhausted through broken sleep. I wanted help, not a label. My health visitor had been constantly testing me for PND and we were in agreement that I wasn’t depressed. It was my husband who suggested Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; I had already read about this through The Birth Trauma Association and it was like a light bulb shining over my head. I think just knowing that I wasn’t going mad was a huge relief and I have to say that The Birth Trauma Association has been an enormous support for me. Just knowing that I wasn’t alone was a huge help. Slowly, I formed a relationship with my son and little moments, such as his first smile, are printed on my mind forever.
What individuals offered you support?
My new mummy friends have been an immense support and without them there is no doubt I would be feeling pretty lonely now. Above all, my husband has been amazing. There have been so many tearful calls to his office and then suddenly he is home to hold the baby for a while. He does his share in the night and he understands my feelings towards the birth so well. He was there. He never once told me to just be grateful that my son was alive. He never made me feel I had no right to feel upset.
What organisations offered you support?
The Birth Trauma Association- as already mentioned. The ladies on the facebook group have been invaluable. Also, the NCT as I forced myself to get out and join their baby group. The result has been a group of new friends for me and my son along with a re-awakened love for writing. I was asked to write an article for my local NCT newsletter and that’s when I realised I wanted to blog about my experiences.
If you could revisit yourself when you doubted yourself, what would you tell yourself?
Gosh. I would tell myself that I would get through it all eventually. The fact that I didn’t bond with my son immediately didn’t mean I was a bad mum, didn’t mean I didn’t love him. I would tell myself that what happened should not have happened and that yes, I did have something to complain about. I still haven’t made a complaint to the hospital. I would tell myself that what was happening was going to make me stronger. I would tell myself that it was ok to cry and to feel a little desperate. It’s ok to ask for help. Goodness, there is so much I should’ve told myself!
What would you say to a mum out there who has a dream or something they would like to do?
Seize the moment. This is the only life you’re going to get so if you’re finding it hard then ask for help. Do what you can to make sure that your life goes the way you want it to go. Make the most of the people around you and draw on them for support, guidance and advice. Don’t get to your old age and think, what would have happened if...? If all of this has taught me anything, it’s that life can be so fragile. I took a glimpse at life in another person’s shoes and I’m so happy that things went the other way. Today, my son and I are here and I don’t want to waste the second chance we were given.