“It sounds awful because I love her so much, but when Sephy was tiny I almost felt like I’d ruined my life. It was all such a change.
I tried other baby groups but I felt like a bit of a misfit because everyone else was so outwardly cheerful. People only seemed to talk about the great stuff, and how wonderful their babies were.
But at Bluebell Place, I could be honest about things. It was so liberating to be able to say, “I've had a really crap day and I don't like my baby very much right now and I don't think she likes me,” and not to have people recoil in horror.
When I was pregnant, I'd had all these images of lovely things I’d do on maternity leave. Visiting a perinatal mental health charity hadn’t really been part of my plan. But when it came to it, chatting to other mums over coffee and cake at Bluebell Place gave me a true sense of belonging in my new life.
I remember going to Bluebell one Wednesday afternoon after a really rubbish morning. Nothing in particular had happened, but I just felt really overwhelmed by everything. It was very busy because there was a craft session happening. As soon as I walked in the door, Carol came over and said, “Do you want to come and have a sit down on the sofa with me?” She just knew. She just knew to take me to a corner for a bit of a chat. She didn’t ask what was wrong – but she was giving me the space to talk to her if I needed to. Her perceptiveness was amazing. And she knew how I liked my coffee!
Hanging out at the creche at Bluebell was complete and utter bliss. Helen, Kerry and Emma were so lovely, and Emma in particular was a fountain of knowledge. If I had any concerns about feeding or sleeping or anything else around parenting, she always had something incredibly helpful to say.
I’d been so caught up in my anxiety that I hadn’t thought much about sensory play. I remember the creche team taking beautiful silk scarves and drifting them over the babies’ faces while the babies lay on the mats in absolute heaven. I couldn’t quite believe it when Sephy picked up a painted pinecone and proceeded to play with it for 40 minutes!
I’d had real anxiety about being separated from Sephy. Even when my parents visited, I could barely leave her go to the loo because I was so worried about someone else holding her. Using the Bluebell creche helped me overcome that. I started feeling able to leave Sephy at home with my partner while I went for a coffee or a walk. That was the start of everything turning around for me.
At Bluebell, you find living testimonies to things getting better. When I first went there, I met another mum who was moving away from the service because her daughter was close to turning two. By the time I was finishing my time at Bluebell, this mum was back – she’d become one of the amazing, strong volunteers with lived experience who return to support other women. That was really meaningful for me. I thought, ‘Wow - I'm going to be there in a couple of years.’
Bluebell has had a complete effect on my life. What they’ve done for me goes beyond motherhood and my relationship with Sephy. They’re the reason I’m back in my old job. I’m a nurse specialist working with patients with lymphoma. I’d found my work really difficult when I was pregnant, and I didn’t want to go back after my maternity leave. But I did go back – and when I put on my purple uniform I thought, “I wouldn’t be doing this if it hadn’t been for Bluebell.”
I genuinely feel as though Bluebell saved my life. That may sound dramatic, but I can't think of anything else that had such an impact on me and helped me feel so normal. They helped me regain so much confidence in myself. I honestly don't know where I’d be without them.”