Semira’s Story: Pregnancy and Parenting in the Pandemic
I have always thought of myself as outgoing and loved talking to people. I am not sure I was fully prepared for being a mum or being pregnant during the pandemic and how isolating it can be even when there aren’t restrictions.
Although I have a good circle of family and friends the support they can offer is varied with family living in a different county (great for getting away from home), but not so when you need a babysitter at short notice to attend an appointment for yourself.
“My baby was born in the middle of winter and whilst some pandemic restrictions were still in force. After the first few weeks, with the weather cold and wet, with no normal life outside, it led to me feeling really isolated, overwhelmed and my mental health taking a dip.”
I was fortunate that I was being closely monitored as pregnancy may have been a trigger for my mental health, having had challenges with depression when I was younger.
When I did get visits from friends I was often left feeling even more exhausted. I always found myself feeling that I needed to tidy the house before they came, making them cups of tea and not really resting whilst they were there. I did find it difficult to talk openly and honestly about my feelings, mood and emotions as it felt that most people didn’t have enough time to support me or be in a position to fully understand.
It was my Health Visitor that suggested I look at attending the Mums Matter Course.
At first I thought it would be like all the other groups or conversations I was having that were all about the baby. I absolutely love my baby but it felt like I had lost myself and was almost invisible as everything focused almost exclusively around the baby.
The Mums Matter sessions were really good. They allowed me the space and time each week to look after me and reflect on all the changes that had taken place in our lives since giving birth.
“Before becoming a mum I would have done something for me every week, nails, lunch, coffee, a pamper session just time for me. The course and discussions helped me realise why I was feeling so low. Overnight, I became a 24/7 carer with no opportunity for me.”
It was a safe space to open up, talk freely without judgement or fear of being misunderstood.
I had the opportunity and space to reflect about the changes that had taken place and the opportunities that I could take advantage of to regain a bit of me again. It also highlighted to me how much I missed connecting with people, something we covered in the 5 ways to wellbeing and also just from chatting to other mums. It gave me the confidence to open up and share my thoughts, feelings, wishes and emotions, knowing that it would be helping the other mums just as hearing their stories was helping me.
I also really appreciated the reminder of how important it is to look after myself to help me continue to be a good mum. I also remembered about journaling and really enjoyed the meditations, especially using visualisation and breathing activities. They really helped improve my mood and outlook.
Being online had advantages especially on those days when my sleep had been disturbed, or when I didn’t have any motivation to do anything because it was another cold, dark winter’s day. I would push myself to log on and noticed how better I felt by the end of the session and talking to the other mums. I must admit I did dip a little after the last session as I didn’t want it to end.
I have started to attend the sessions at the children’s centre and can recognise that not only have we as a family been in adjustment phase, so too have my friends and family. I can see the future will still have challenges and I know I have tools that will help me get through these.
I am looking forward to the opportunities and family experiences yet to come.