Eight years ago, almost to the day, I opened a WordPress account and joined the UK parent blogging community. I was pretty sure nobody would really want to read what I had to say, and even more sure that I didn’t want them to either. Now, reading back on old posts is a fairly uncomfortable experience. When I first started to write about my son’s birth I was in a bad place. I mean, a really bad place. Almost at the bottom of the gaping blackness of grief, anger, despair. Almost. Not quite. And while its hard to read back the words that literally spewed themselves onto the pages back then, I cannot ever bring myself to erase them. They’ve been such a huge part of my story, my journey, and my recovery. I used to think I was defined by my story, and that this blog was too. But now I see it. I’m defined by what my story has taught me. I’m defined by the strength I’ve built. I’m defined by every single person who reads my story, who takes the time to say ‘thank you for sharing’ or even ‘how dare you share’; every single person who lifts me, and even those who do not. I can’t pretend that everyone who has been a part of my journey has been a positive force, but in realising that for myself I have learned so much. So for every single person that has been here, in whatever way that may have been: thank you.
I started CBT because I developed an aversion to driving. A strange and sudden hot panic and a thudding heart. Hours spent fretting about the journeys ahead. Legs turning to jelly at the slightest mis-turn. Turns out my brain was just too full and some things needed to escape at last. Long story short, things make a lot more sense now.
I know this doesn’t really go a long way to explain the gaps that exist within this blog, but for now it will have to do. I’ve been recovering. Taking a step back from the maternity world, the world of campaigning and the politics of it all. I am still very much unwilling to step right back into the thick of it all. But I am ready to take some baby steps.
This week I agreed to take over the All That Matters protect from the lovely Claire, who I’ve had the honour of listening to as she shares her birth trauma experience with eloquence and passion. The project is run as part of the Positive Birth Movement, in response to women asking for a space to share stories that were less than positive. Its a holding place for stories that need to be told, and I intend to hold them very carefully. For a long time I felt a little alienated from any kind of positive birth campaign, like I didn’t belong or we didn’t speak the same language… now I embrace the inclusion and am encouraged by the joined forces that will only serve to strengthen the cause.
I’ve also agreed to write for a magazine set up by my good friend Renee and her business partner Jess, The Empowered Mother Collective. Its the right time for me. Its the right time for women. Because we deserve to be empowered. We need the chance to share and to tell the world that we have a voice. We owe it to our daughters to weave the stories of our experiences, and show them how strength and grit can inspire, empower and teach. This journey has not been in vain. It has been bleak, it has lonely, but it has not been for nothing.
I promised you an update, so here it is. In other news, we now have a three legged cat (tales of resilience to come) and a kitten because, frankly, there will be no more babies. But thats ok. This family is, truly, happy as it is.