Another car passed by and shuffled back on the pavement a bit more and began again. Left, right, left right, left right. They seemed so ...

Mental Health Guest Post: Reaching Out Is Not A Weakness

By December 17, 2018

Another car passed by and shuffled back on the pavement a bit more and began again. Left, right, left right, left right. They seemed so fast and so constant. But then I thought bikes? Bikes are smaller, quieter, harder to see, they could whizz around the corner at the speed of light. And what if I trip? If I finally find a gap in this traffic, step out a slip over, and then a car comes and it doesn’t see me and runs straight over me and then doesn’t stop and then no one stops and this is London, it’s busy and people can be so selfish and people are hit on roads all the time and and and and. I shuffle back from the road a bit more and consider my options. Could I get halfway, to the safety of the yellow and blue bollards and that little space of pavement marking the middle of the road? Safety? That’s not a safe space. I’ve seen those things flattened by cars. Then I would have been hit by a car and a bollard. Maybe in all the debris, they wouldn’t even realise I was there and and and and…

Are you picturing some massive busy central London road? With many lanes and a constant flow of traffic? Noisy and angry? Well, you would be wrong. I’m in a small town on the edge of the city. Suburbia London I call it. The place where the city centre people come to have babies. It’s calm and friendly. This is a standard two-way street, well lit and pretty quiet. In the gaps between cars, a 90-year-old with a zimmer frame could get across and back about 12 times.

...I put my hands on my tummy and think, this isn’t safe for you. I walk the 600 metres or more down the road to the zebra crossing. Still, a scary point to cross, it takes time, but I’m over the road. This road anyway.

I’m less than 12 weeks pregnant and I have never felt more breakable in my entire life. Every road, a curb, the gap between the train and platform, a set of steps, trip hazards, busy areas, a car, another person, terrifies me. I must protect this baby.

Let’s rewind a little. A brief history of me on my journey to bump stage. I wanted to be a mum from age 15 when they showed us a woman giving birth in biology. Just before my 17th Birthday, I was very sick and after surgery was given my first reason why this would never happen. Not long after turning 19 I was given a second medical reason why this wouldn’t happen. By my early twenties, I had roughly 2 periods a year and they didn’t think they were even ovulations. By my mid-twenties, I was having interviews with adoption agencies. All I ever wanted to be was a mum. Then in 2016, nearly a year after my mum had passed away, I visited the doctor for the second time in 3 days, because I was convinced I was dying. My body was shutting down and giving up. It couldn’t take anymore. I found out I was pregnant from a kind, female doctor, who seemed so pleased for me. I was obviously ecstatic and terrified. For the first few days, it didn’t seem real. Due to the lack of periods, etc, dating the conception and therefore birth was impossible without a scan. So 4 days later we heading into our local hospital. I was just over 6 weeks and we even heard a little heartbeat. Strong and beautiful. I now had one job to protect this baby.

Everything became a horror. Everything became something that could cause this baby harm or for me to lose it. I didn’t “risk” any of the foods that may or may not be an issue. I didn’t risk anything. This baby very much felt like my one shot. If I didn’t get this right, I would never get the chance again.

The baby was due in April 2017 and I took early maternity in November 2016, due to mixed reasons, but it’s lucky I did as I could no longer handle the commute to Waterloo in central London. I would wrap my arms over my then tiny bump and protect it from the busy platforms and streets of the city centre. I was consumed by thoughts of what could go wrong and cried constantly with fear.

Luckily I’ve dealt with issues before. Through my teen years and early twenties, I struggled a lot. Eventually, I was put on a drug for an unrelated issue, which had the side effect of heightening or causing mental health issues and things spiralled. I was lucky I lived in a close person community, living with friends, the family down the road and a strong group at work. They started to call me on things not being right and I reached out to my GP for help. I guess that was easier to accept because it had been heightened by unrelated medication. I didn’t see it is so much “my fault” despite the fact that issues had been there before. So, when problems started to show during my pregnancy the idea of asking for help wasn’t such a scary thing. Don’t get me wrong it was still scary, but less so. I feared judgement, that I would have my child taken from me the moment she arrived, but as my one job was to protect her and that meant protecting me, so I spoke to my midwife, who referred me to a specialist. Who I then didn’t hear from. After a few weeks of struggling on, I reached out again and called the specialist department myself. Turns out they had reviewed my paperwork and put me on a list, where nothing happened unless I reached out again. How crazy is that! Do they not understand how scary it is to reach out in the first place? I sobbed on the phone to the lady and they agreed to see me. I got additional appointments with them to talk through some of the issues and was marked as high risk for postnatal depression. Which I never got, luckily. Part of the reason I believe I never got it, was that I knew I had the support. I had additional health visitor visits, which to be honest were pretty useless, but just knowing that extra support was there if I started to crumble was a massive help. I spent days unable to move from the sofa, for fear something I would do would cause my baby harm. But I refused to make this time a complete waste. I made lists and planned the nursery. Watched hours and hours of YouTube on changing nappies and nursery tours and hospital bags. I put my time to good use and focused the crazy mess inside my head for good. By the time my baby arrived, I was so prepared and calm. I had a plan and a backup plan and had prepared myself that neither may work. I had filled myself with information as best I could. My scary experience turned me into a pretty confident mother, accepting of my “failings” (which I prefer to calling “learning experiences”) and proud of my day to day achievements.

I love to evaluate everything and over that first year as a mum I learnt and evaluated and grew like never before. I realised that every job and life experience had led me to this point. Experience in time management, planning and organisation. Knowledge of how to stay calm under pressure and not let it show when you are flustered (a skill from my years as a wedding and event planner), but also being able to open up and show weakness at the right moment, so I didn’t fall apart. My life, which trust me has had some pretty dark moments, had prepared me to be exactly who I needed to be in this moment, to be the mum I wanted to be.

It’s bizarre how life works out. Pre-baby (a gorgeous and smart girl, named Felicity - meaning extreme happiness), I never could have pictured my life how it is now. I’m even helping other mums find enjoyment in motherhood and live a life they love. I set up my company in July 2018. Drawing on the skills of my own life and bringing in experts from many areas (I’m a huge fan of knowing when and being able to reach out for help). I called it Super Mum Society, as I believe we are all super mums, but sadly society keeps playing down how awesome we are and all we do. Even on our toughest day, when we just scrap through we are super. I wanted to be a mum for so long, I am going to enjoy it. I am first and foremost a mum, but around that, I now spend my days spreading positivity and hope to other mums. Some mums want to learn new skills and others just need someone to show them the skills are already there. Most mums I work with need someone to tell them it’s okay to take some time for self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. But my strongest focus is helping mums realise they just need to be whatever they want to be and stop worrying about the things that don’t matter to them and their family.

I’ve gone from not being about to cross the road, to be able to stand up in front of people, or a camera or even live online and talk about my life and share my advice. I inspire and motivate on Instagram, provide a safe, supportive and honest community on Facebook, share expert advice on YouTube. All while enjoying the greatest blessing of this earth - being a mum.

Super Mum's Community Group -

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