There is lots to worry and feel nervous about when you are pregnant as a new parent, from attending scans
I qualified as a Midwife in the year 2000 and having worked for 18 months at Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals, I began in Harrogate in 2002 and have worked as a Midwife within this hospital until 2022. Throughout my 20s I worked full time, got married, moved houses and went on some nice holidays.
We decided to start to try for a family when we were about 28. We later got referred and commenced Fertility treatment. This then went on for a couple of years. During this time there were some significant changes in my personal life.
My Grandad died of pneumonia. Then my sister who already had a daughter had twin boys prematurely. When they were 5 days old, they had routine brain scans and one of them was found to have had a large brain haemorrhage. My sister and husband were told he would be significantly disabled and the prognosis was not positive. This came as a huge shock for the wider family also and I remember clearly the moment I was told this over the phone by my Mum and how it made me feel. When the twins were six months old my Mum died suddenly of a brain haemorrhage herself. This was whilst I had gone to visit my parents during my second IVF treatment and had taken my 22 month old niece with me. Obviously, the worlds changed for my dad, sister and myself and the family and friends around us. I went on to have a third treatment. I had two fertility treatments in Sheffield and one in Nottingham, whilst living in York.
None of the cycles worked and we didn’t have an explanation for our infertility so were advised to stop. We also couldn’t afford to continue either. That Autumn we enquired about adoption and so began the vetting and approval process for that. We went to a panel and the following Autumn adopted our son and daughter. The last ten years have been a wonderful mix of extreme highs and lows, complete exhaustion, the entire range of emotions you can imagine and learning how to parent in a therapeutic way.
I continued to work as a Midwife but became part time once we had adopted the children. The majority of the time I worked between the Delivery Suite and Postnatal Ward. In 2019 I was in a fortunate enough position to take a career break and was able to spend a year at home focussing more on being a Mum. I returned to work in September 2020 and started working in the Antenatal Clinic, something that I hadn’t done before.
I became involved with the Consultant led clinic for Perinatal Mental Health and found this work interesting and rewarding. I also realised that there was a lot of women who were also struggling with their emotional health and wellbeing in areas such as perinatal anxiety, tokophobia and birth trauma. I also had conversations with couples who had experienced years of fertility treatment and then had become pregnant but felt that there wasn’t a recognition during their pregnancy of the journey and potential trauma they had already been through to get to this point. I began doing the appointments that were held at Harrogate Hospital named ‘Pregnancy and Birth Revisited’ where a lady and her partner has the opportunity to return and discuss her birth experience in more detail. During these appointments I also began to appreciate the impact these experiences had on the birth partner also. Whilst it may seem obvious that they are affected I saw that they could be experiencing symptoms of trauma, affecting their day to day life.
I undertook training through the College of Perinatal Emotional Health and completed courses in TBR 3 step rewind for birth trauma, perinatal anxiety, miscarriage & loss, perinatal injury and fertility issues.
I had worked with Sue for many years and she had then been the bereavement midwife for some years at Harrogate. She has her own story to tell in how she came to this point but we often shared our dreams of going somewhere to help fill what we had perceived as a gap in care for emotional support in these areas and also bereavement support once discharged from the care at the hospital.
We researched and learnt about the benefits of setting up as a Social Enterprise or Community Interest Company (CIC) and the not for profit sector sat well for us so that we would be enable to apply for grants and fundraise and therefore fulfil our aim of offering support to all.
This led to us making the decision to launch ‘Taking Baby Steps’.