The first time I sat down to write a blog post I never once imagined it was anything more than a diary entry. For me. Not for you, or for your sister or your friend or anyone else. I didn’t even publish the first few posts because it was the act of writing them that mattered more than anything else. But like every other writer, I needed an audience and I soon discovered I needed a purpose too. Writing for a cause just kind of happened.
I started by writing about my son. My beautiful boy, who was ripped from my body in a blur of panic and white hot fear. Born into silence. Born into chaos. Born alone, while I slept. I needed to write. I needed to spew forth all the emotions and the confusion that was rattling around inside me and I needed to try and make sense of it somehow. Writing has always been my release, ever since I was a child, and it’s only natural for me to need the prop during times of crisis.
When I published my first post, I was amazed to realise that people were reading it. And very quickly people were commenting too. Then I started getting emails, messages, tweets. Not only were people reading but they were empathising. They were telling me their own stories, sharing their own experiences of despair, fear, recovery. I was building a little community around me, stumbling along a little path of my own making at last.
I never set out to campaign, but I quickly realised that I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t just me. And each time I wrote about my experiences, or expressed my honest thoughts on my journey towards recovery, I found I was reaching out to more and more women like me. We were gaining strength from each other. We were entwining our stories together to create a voice that was growing louder and stronger and becoming something that couldn’t be ignored.
And so I began to connect with midwives, obstetricians, GPs, surgeons and health care workers who all wanted to make a positive impact in their work. It wasn’t ok to say that these things happen. These things happen, but they need to be challenged and they need to be changed. And we all need to learn from these things. And so by sharing my story, I was placing another brick in the wall we were all building together, towards a better maternity service for everyone.
The #MatExp campaign found me. Wonderful people like Emma, Flo, Gill, Becca, Raja, Michelle and Jenny found me. To be amongst others who not only understood but who wanted to make changes as much as I do has been amazing.
I never set out to campaign. Speaking at the Women’s Voices conference was surreal but an amazing privilege. Speaking at the Birth Trauma conference was terrifying but empowering and exhilarating at the same time. Attending the maternal mental health conference at the House of Commons was humbling and sobering and I will never forget the power of the words spoken that day.
I never set out to campaign. I am nothing special, and if you want to campaign the only thing I will say is this. Do it. If you have a cause that you know is worth the fight, then fight for it and never let it go. For a long time, birth trauma was the focus of so much anger and despair for me, but now it is so much more. There are still days where the anxiety, fury and fear consumes me and there are many where I wish it would all just go away. But there are so many more now where I am glad. I am who I am and I am stronger now for my experiences. I am able to use my story, my voice, to speak up for those who cannot. I am able to use my position to inspire small changes in attitudes, in the way that women are spoken to, in the way that we think of birth trauma. I am able to show the world what happens when women are not supported during pregnancy, birth and beyond. And I am writing for a cause.
I am writing for a cause because what else can I do? I write. That is who I am. And I wear my heart on my sleeve; I cannot imagine being any other way.
If you want to write for a cause, or to use your blog to campaign then please, please do. It won’t always be easy and you most certainly will encounter others who either don’t or won’t understand. But remember this. You will meet others who want to support you. You will meet others who are fighting your fight too. You will inspire and be inspired. You will write for a cause because what else can you do?