Today, we have a guest post from a visitor to the café who would like to remain anonymous. Many thanks to her for sharing her story with us.
I used to dread mother and baby groups. Everyone else seemed to really enjoy the chance to chat to other mums and share experiences. I dreaded them.
Every time I went, I seemed to sit beside someone who’d had a “moonbeams and whale music” birth experience.
I would sit there, sick with jealously, smiling through gritted teeth.
I felt such a failure. Why couldn’t I birth my baby? I tried so hard. I did pregnancy yoga, watched Youtube videos of labour physiology, practised mindfulness. I asked questions. I thought I was prepared. I did everything I was told to do – lots of walking in the very early stages, avoiding lying on my back once the epidural was in.
Yet still, my experience was a terrifying emergency C-section 49 hours after arriving at the hospital. What was wrong with my body?
Worse still were the mothers who couldn’t praise their midwives highly enough. I felt the midwifery care I had been promised during antenatal classes never materialised.
Hearing about other mothers who had experienced compassionate midwifery or felt their midwives had advocated for them in their hour of need made me sick to my stomach.
It took me months to recognise that my nightmares and other symptoms were a reflection of birth trauma. I felt I couldn’t have post-natal PTSD – I had a healthy baby and others had had far worse experiences than me.
It took many more months and frustrating dead ends with NHS care before I found the help I needed.
In that time, The Motherkind Café was a refuge. It was a place where I didn’t have to pretend everything was great. It was ok to let the bruises show. I was surrounded by mothers who understood. I think the first three times I went I sobbed at one of the wonderful, kind, empathetic peer supporters. I couldn’t get the words out without tears.
And when I was struggling to navigate the NHS mental health services and referral pathways, The Motherkind Café was there, each week, consistent and without judgement. With a warm cuppa and sometimes even a homemade biscuit.
For most of the first year of my baby’s life, I was convinced I would never get better. That I would never feel like myself again.
But I healed. And I feel like myself again.
And you will too.