I met my husband when I was 20 years old and within a few months we were ‘going out’. Thirty five years later and we’re still together, happily living in Knaresborough and still best friends.
When our eldest son was born in 1993, although it was one of the most wonderful days of our lives, the birthing experience was not. It left me with a never ending feeling that the care I had received was so poor- which it was! I was left alone for hours, ordered about, not kept informed and was frightened for most of the time in labour. I was terrified of having to go through the same experience again so mentally prepared myself for the majority of my second pregnancy, determined to have a better experience, reading and practicing, focusing the mind and staying in control. Thankfully I had a better experience which made me feel a real sense of achievement and again a good – but swift, experience with the induced birth of our youngest son.
I couldn’t ignore the fact that I knew I could make a difference and should train to become a midwife myself. My only small regret was that it took another 12 years to embark on the training but in those years, being a mummy was more important and I loved my time at home with all three of my sons. I qualified as a Midwife in 2009 having trained at Bradford University – sometimes looking back I honestly don’t know how I managed to do it. Commuting to University, working the shifts on clinical placement and going back to the academic side of life were hugely challenging but rewarding. But doing it with three children, a husband who was self-employed and a family home to run was sometimes crazy!
In my third year of student training I was exposed to some difficult cases – caring for the parents of a baby who was sadly stillborn at term, and another case where the baby was born with severe, life limiting difficulties. Then as a newly qualified midwife I was soon caring for patients in our Bereavement Suite on a regular basis: I had learned not to be afraid of talking about it if I too was affected by the overwhelming sadness of these cases. Perhaps because I was a more mature member of the team and had experienced death and bereavement in my personal life I found this work easier than some.
I loved my job working on Delivery Suite, helping couples become parents and bringing new life in to the world, but I was always drawn to improving care for women and their partners who weren’t going home with a baby in their arms. I knew we only had one chance to get the care right when looking after families who had suffered a miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death or sadly made the
painful decision to not continue with the pregnancy if there were complications affecting their baby’s development.
In 2016 I was appointed as Bereavement Support Midwife, a Specialist role to lead and develop the service within the Maternity Unit. Attention to detail, supporting staff and the families were all part of my day to day role and I found it a very rewarding experience. Patient care was a huge part of my job which sadly was only allocated a minimal number of hours, however I worked flexibly to accommodate this and the needs of the service wherever possible. I also supported women and their partners in a subsequent pregnancy which required extra attention in times of heightened anxiety; understandably so.
I also facilitated mandatory training sessions for qualified midwives and more recently some training with junior doctors and nurses working in the Special Care Baby Unit.
I had always worked with Jane from being newly qualified and in the last few years we’ve had many conversations regarding a lack of follow on support services and how bereavement and birth trauma can run parallel. We both knew we wanted to do more but the idea needed to grow and develop for us to see it could be a reality. I knew it would be a challenge to leave my midwifery role and set up to provide a new service, but already feel we’ve made a great decision and one which I’m confident will continue to grow and provide the support needed