Jobs completed. Invoices submitted. ‘Bye for now folks! I’m off on maternity leave’ tweeted and blogged.
Well, that was the plan. It didn’t quite happen like that.
Baby Tess, it transpires, was very keen to make her debut. She took us by surprise by arriving two weeks early.
Well! Great to meet you Tess, but I haven’t started my maternity leave yet! My ‘Bye for now folks’ blog post is yet to be written! And are you aware that you’ve sabotaged all my plans to ‘nest’ (i.e. clear out the cupboards, wash the sofa covers and stock the freezer) and sit around eating vast amounts of cake with my new NCT friends?
But I can’t blame Tess (a little 8lb bundle with an impressive head of hair and an endearing repertoire of snuffles that remind us of our first baby, Rosie the dog). It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have listened to everyone who told me sagely that the first one is always late.
Five weeks on, I’m gradually emerging from the baby fog and finally getting round to writing that blog post (and it feels great to be doing something productive that doesn’t involve my boobs).
I’m officially on maternity leave until June 2014, but I can legally take on 10 days’ work between now and then and still get my maternity allowance. So from January onwards, do drop me a line if you’re looking for some help.
For now, I’d like to close with something from one of the last jobs I took on before Tess joined us.
The work was with Bluebell, a small Bristol charity that supports families affected by post-natal depression. This was great timing for me. My first few weeks with Tess were pretty tear-soaked but because I’m well versed on the difference between post-natal depression and the basic baby blues, I knew that what I was going through was the latter.
“I feel 100% different to when I started with Bluebell and I still get a bit choked up when I say that.
After having Noah, I lost who I was. I lost confidence in myself. I didn’t have any self esteem. I didn’t feel anything like myself – I felt like a different person with the same name.
But Bluebell taught me that how I was feeling was normal and that it happens to thousands of women across Britain, the world, everywhere. It’s not something to feel guilty about and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
And things have changed for the better in every single way. I’ve got a life again. My relationship with Noah has improved massively. I enjoy being a mum now. I feel really proud that with Bluebell’s support, I’ve got to where I wanted to be.”
In an earlier blog I wrote about the importance of including the ‘then and now’ (or ‘before and after’) in beneficiary stories, as these really help to highlight a charity’s impact.
I think Hannah beautifully brings to life her ‘then and now’. And I hope her story will give hope and comfort to other mums living with post-natal depression – as well as inspiring new supporters and funders for Bluebell.