It’s been nearly a year but the future is looking more positive, the next few months already feel long though. For me personally, this also means that my son’s second birthday at the end of March is not too far away. It is looking very likely that his total of two ever birthdays will be in restricted times, with just the four of us as a household. For lots of other families at the moment, Spring approaching will mean first birthdays in lockdown. A whole year of not being able to share your baby with family and friends.

It has been a long, tough year and I cannot imagine how that may have been for families with newborn babies. They change overnight and develop new skills daily. I understand the desire to want to share these experiences with friends and family. My son is so physically able and determined. He can climb what feels like almost anything and get into any cupboards he wants. He is able to open the child locked kitchen cupboards which still totally stump my three old daughter. He is frequently heard calling “help”, as he has got himself stuck hanging onto some piece of furniture and balancing over to another. If these things were not so frustrating, I would be in awe of his problem solving skills, pure determination to discover everything and his ability to learn so fast.

More than anything, I’d love to share with people his utter love for the world. I’d love for my family and friends to experience the way he throws himself so forcefully into a kiss, that he head butts the recipient. He loves to run at knees and pretend to knock the person down into what he calls a ‘cuggle over’. There is so much I can learn from his pure joy and simplicity of displaying his love for those around him.

I know that not being able to share some of these experiences will be causing people a lot of upset, and increasing levels of tiredness when you don’t get a break from parenting. There will be people desperately wanting to meet the new little person who joined their family this year. People trying to juggle babies and home schooling. People desperately wanting a baby. People working from home in the chaotic virtual meeting world with small children pulling the usb for the mouse out of the side of the laptop. People dealing with the loss of someone during a pandemic and still trying to manage.

Please, seek help if you need to

I hear comments around anxiety of managing Covid-19 and being pregnant, in labour, with a new born and beyond. I hear the comments about anxiety for the future. I want to reassure you that myself and the MVP hear you and that we are here for you. Recently the term Coronacoaster has popped up on my social media. The roller coaster of emotions that is Covid-19. These emotions are very real and valid. However on a serious note, if these emotions are affecting you every day please seek some help. A group of mothers who use the Gloucestershire perinatal mental health service have put together some information about organisations that can offer advice and support, which cane be found at the bottom of this blog.

Remember that the NHS, midwives, local organisations, charities and services are still there to support you. Please do call someone if you need some support. There is so much extra pressure in the coming months and from the last year, that now more than ever we need to remember to look after our mental health, although I fully appreciate that it can seem like a fantasy idea as a parent or soon to be parent.

Our priorities for 2021

As a group, the MVP has been finalising our priorities for 2021. Mental health has been identified as an area that we would like to focus on. MVPs exist to gather feedback and use this to inform NHS services about changes. We would really like to understand how you are at the moment and if you are receiving support around your wellbeing through your pregnancy and postnatally. We are also here to signpost you to where you might be able to access help if you need it.

It is ok to be looking forward to all the birthdays and anniversaries of special dates, whilst also feeling a sense of sadness. However you are feeling right now, acknowledge it. The days can feel long, especially if those days are merging into sleepless nights. There is lots of positive news at the moment, but the impact of the year will continue to be felt. I hope that the lighter evenings are bringing some comfort.

Sources of support

Home Start – Mothers in Mind

Support for women who are experiencing challenges during pregnancy and/or in the first few years after having a baby. Small, relaxed groups, face-to-face and online, provide a safe space to chat, share worries and concerns.  Home-start offers other support for families too.

Stroud and Gloucester

Call Corrine on 01453 821085
www.homestartsd.org/mothers-in-mind-drop-in-group
Facebook – @Homestartstroudandgloucester

Cheltenham, Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury

Call 07584 472025
www.homestartnwglos.org.uk/group-support
Facebook – @hsnwglos

Shine – Cirencester and Dursley

Shine drop-in sessions run every week including school holidays.  They offer a welcoming, judgement-free space for pregnant women and mums to get some support. A nursery worker is on hand offering a supportive presence and craft activities for older children.  Shine also runs a closed Facebook support group and offers creative therapy courses for mums.

Contact Lauraine on 07886 570933 or email laurainecheesman@yahoo.co.uk

www.shine-support.org/drop-ins

https://www.facebook.com/shineoncemore

Cirencester – Emma Johnson & Rebecca Skitt

shinepndwebsite@gmail.com / 07885 503836

Dursley – Amber Coulter & Nona Rushton

nonapurnell@icloud.com / amber_coulter@hotmail.co.uk

North Cotswold Perinatal CIC – AnD Me

AnD Me is a peer support group for women (antenatal and postnatal) experiencing anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. The group also offers 8-week courses on understanding your baby and thinking about toddler play.

Call Pippa on 07543 682689
Email northcotswoldperinatal@gmail.com
Facebook – @northcotswoldperinatal

Marvellous Mums – Gloucester

A friendly group which welcomes and supports all expectant and new mothers from the whole community.  It is a social group which understands the challenges of motherhood and focuses on the wellbeing of mothers.

Call Razeya Mohamedy on 07724 762134
Email Razeya@thefriendshipcafe.com