The Sales are on and every year the news shows us scampering masses plunging into Selfridges to buy a handbag.
There’s nothing wrong with getting something you’ve always wanted but couldn’t usually afford, especially if it’s something you need. But our reasons for buying are often less rational.
Private therapy can be expensive, but it’s more of an investment than buying things that make you feel elated and then make you feel guilty. Corporate employers recognise the value of counselling to their profits by offering free, confidential therapy to their employees via Employee Assistance Programmes.
Normally, I charge £80 to £120 per session (find out more about why I have a sliding scale here) but in the spirit of the times, I’m having a sale of my own. Rather than you paying £480 to £720 I’m charging £360 for 6 pre-paid sessions. This offer is open until the end of January. To offer professional care I limit how many hours I work per week, and if those hours are filled when you call to take advantage of this offer I can put you on my waiting list.
If you’re not sure how counselling can help have a look at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy website.
Feel free to phone to ask any questions and have a great 2014.
A friend came to stay with me last week after spending 9 weeks in the Fremo Medical and Birth Centre, “a beautiful and safe haven for the mothers of the Kawangware slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya.”
Michelle trained as a midwife 6 months ahead of me at St Mary’s Paddington, and delivered my own child at my home in a pool. The next day she came round and blitzed the house from top to bottom and filled the fridge so that I could emerge from bed with nothing to do that day but learn to be a mother.
Michelle and I talked about midwifery and birth, antenatal care and poverty, first world and developing world pressures on women, and I realised just how much I missed being around pregnant women, new mothers and babies. Not continuing in midwifery is one of my biggest regrets, though the relentless and harmful pressure that midwifery has been under for so many years has ameliorated that sadness.
My own labour was textbook – healthy antenatally I knew that there was no reason to anticipate anything other than a straightforward birth, that deep warm water can reduce pain and that St Mary’s was 15 minutes away. Everything went well and still, it was the closest thing to madness I’d ever experienced. I’ve no regrets about not having pain relief but bloody hell, it was powerful.
Remembering all this, listening to Michelle’s enduring enthusiasm for her work, made me realise that I have a particular background that can be useful to women – and men – who are moving towards and into parenthood.
We don’t have rites of passage any more, we don’t sincerely mark transitions we just accept as a fact that yesterday you were not pregnant, today you are. Yesterday you were not a mother or father, today you are. The most important immediate recognition is medical and then form filling for employers and the tax office. Families can be great, employers and friends can be supportive but what about the engagement with intimate, complex and very normal joy and enthusiasm, doubts and fears?
Midwives report that they hardly have time to be with women in labour, and I remember the disappointed faces from an antenatal clinic 20 years ago when women realised that there wasn’t time to answer all their questions. When you can’t have a conversation about how difficult it is to give up smoking the opportunity to engage in an hours one-to-one conversation about your anxieties and fears becomes remote.
Right now, I can’t offer a community that recognises, welcomes and values women and men as they make the unalterable transition to parenthood (though that’s not by any means impossible) but I can offer a specialist type of counselling. This is important support for all parents, not just those who can afford it, and so I’ll be looking into ways for women and men who find it difficult just to keep the lights on to also access it.
Let me know if you have any ideas. Pass the message on.
Although written from an Irish perspective the experience remains the same: giving birth can be a harrowing experience that leaves many mothers in unrecognised shock. A cascade of intervention, maternal, midwife or obstetrician fear, an unhelpful partner or giving birth alone, not going to C section soon enough or going too quickly can all lead to PTSD, which sounds OTT but is becoming more recognised.
This is not to pathologise childbirth or the post-partum but to recognise that some women can suffer terribly in silence while appearing to be getting on with being a new mother. We've lost all the rituals, the stories and routines around childbirth and left a void in their place. Telling your story, having it heard, hearing it yourself goes an awful long way to bring you back into the world that a painful and frightening event can shock you out of.
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