Awareness days and what happens after
Baby loss awareness week has just passed in the UK, and mental health - maternal, pre and post-natal, has been on most social media feeds I have seen. But what happens after? When these awareness days and weeks end? Here are my thoughts.
Things are getting better?
Before I start, I want to say I honestly do believe that things are getting better. That awareness weeks like this one are a positive thing for all of us, but I still believe there is so much more to do.
Baby loss, mental health, and even the good hurdles we face when working out how this parenting thing works, are such massive subjects, and so much wider-ranging than most people realise.
I'm here speaking as a Mum without a child, who still hopes to experience those nights of broken sleep and clothes being sicked on, yet who has kept all of the behind the scenes stuff silent until a year ago.
Because I didn't know who to talk to. What to say.
Because I felt ashamed.
Those fateful words
Don't panic. This isn't turning into the Vicky show. I'm sharing this with you because for so long I felt alone. And I realise now I am not.
My work means I am also lucky enough to meet a lot of Mummy's who do have their beautiful baby or babies. The thing is, so often when we start to talk, I realise how lonely they feel too. How they haven't told anyone before speaking to me about this.
And then my heart breaks for them.
It breaks when they say 'I'm so sorry, I know I shouldn't be saying this'.
Or, worse still.
'I'm getting it wrong'. 'I'm not doing it right'.
Or my least favourite.
'I'm a bad Mummy'.
My heart breaks as none of this is true. You should be saying exactly how you are feeling. As long as you are giving your baby love, food and shelter you are not doing anything wrong.
You are being a human. You might need a bit of support. Above all...
You are AMAZING.
What the world needs
Now, much as I'd love to be the one to go around giving you all the biggest hugs and helping you out myself, there is only one of me, and I am not an expert in parenthood or mental health. But I do have a voice and thankfully a way to speak to you (and for you to reply if you need a chat or someone to talk at).
What I'd love to see change in the world, is for the full spectrum of parenting support - from pre-conception right through until baby is walking - to change to be exactly that: a support network. People or places that encourage us to speak out or ask for help, people and places we are told about rather than left to Google ourselves to in the hope we find something genuine.
Until that day
We are making progress, and I am so grateful to the people, places and charities who do exist and who work tirelessly to help us. To be that voice in the night or reply to an email when you can't quite use words.
If you are reading this and are still doubting yourself, please, stop. Know this:
YOU ARE AMAZING.
YOU ARE WORTHY.
YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT.
And if you need a bit of extra support from a professional, here are some links I hope help you:
Maternal (including paternal) mental health: