On Saturday I’ll be attending the Women’s Voices Conference in London, to share my story with other mothers, doctors, midwives and campaigners. I’ll be standing up with pride and with determination. Because I have a voice. And you have a voice. And we need to start using those voices. We need to be heard.
In just three weeks, I will have been a mother for twelve years. Twelve years! I cannot believe it has been that long since my first born baby girl was placed into my arms and my world was given a huge shake from within. In those twelve years I have seen a lot. I have learned a lot. And I have gained so much. If I was to tell you what I have brought away from the last twelve years it is this.
The knowledge that these children need me, and they need me to be the best that I can be. And believe me when I say that I am doing all that I can to be the best. A role model they can look up to. A strong woman who does not allow others to push her around. A person they might like to be themselves, one day.
I have decided I must navigate this mountain. After all, who else is going to show my children the way? And in doing so I’ve attempted to make amends with the past. Last week I wanted so badly to face up to events that have taken so much from me. Stolen my sleep, my patience, and my courage. Replaced them with fear, anxiety and insomnia.I wanted so badly to face up to it all and take it on the chin, to show my children I could. I am strong. I am powerful.
I’ve heard mixed reviews about debriefs after birth trauma. Some say that reading through the birth notes has allowed them to finally understand and to make peace with it all. Others have said that their debrief unearthed too many painful memories and set their recovery back further than they could have imagined. Its a gamble. I knew that. But I spoke to my counsellor and we both felt that it was something that could help. I have too many questions that I know I need answers to. And the time felt right.
It was hard sitting in that waiting room, back at the hospital where he was born. I’d spent the last nearly seven years avoiding the place, and yet there I was all of a sudden. Sitting on the same old chairs, placed in the same positions as they were then. Posters on the walls and a row of closed doors, behind which doctors were busy deciding the fate of women. But I sat there, and I waited. Because this was important. Reading through my birth notes was important. I needed to know.
I still need to know.
My birth notes are missing. There is nothing. No record of my son and I after I was admitted to the delivery ward. And while I’ve been assured that they will be found, and I will find some closure, I really am not convinced. If they’re gone now, how will they find them? And if they are not at the hospital, where they are supposed to be, where are they? Where are my answers?
I have a voice. I will use it. And I will not let this set me back.