How 9 Mamma’s Saved My Life – This Is Family

As I sit and watch other mammas either feeding or massaging their beautiful babies a small pinprick of pain alights in my tummy. It makes its way up to my head and it’s a lightbulb moment, a physical lightbulb moment of consciousness. I am lonely.”

We’re joined by Kayleigh Laverick from Mamma Social Co, who shares her story of how she experienced postnatal depression and extreme loneliness in early parenthood. She’s joining us as a part of Maternal Mental Health Week with the hopes that sharing will help others going through a similar situation will feel less alone, and get help if they need it. 

Mamma Social Co is a parenting organisation on a mission to combat loneliness and isolation and help mams navigate the curveballs parenthood throws at us. They hold free weekly Talk & Walk sessions to bring parents together outside of the house, bridging the gap between nature and nurture.

Trigger Warning: This blog contains themes that may be triggering for others, including suicidal thoughts. If you need urgent help, please contact 999.

The Moment I Realised I Was On Autopilot

It was a fresh October morning, and here I was, sitting cross-legged on a community centre floor, watching the instructor show me how to stimulate trapped wind from my baby. It’s at this very moment I realise that, for 4 weeks running, Eva has not been awake once for this baby yoga session, and I’ve gone on autopilot. 

I look around the room, and I feel nothing. I feel empty. I feel disjointed and disconnected from reality. 

What is this feeling?

As I sit and watch other mammas either feeding or massaging their beautiful babies a small pinprick of pain alights in my tummy. It makes its way up to my head and it’s a lightbulb moment, a physical lightbulb moment of consciousness:

I am lonely. 

I feel unstimulated, unsatisfied and a little further away from Kayleigh, further away from myself. And I think, as I sit and nurse Eva in the car, what’s the point? 

This beautiful baby girl – who has saved me so many times in these first few months of her life – is none the wiser about what and where she is. As long as Mamma is with her, she is happy and satisfied. 

It dawns on me: for this family to thrive, Mamma needs to be happy, stimulated and supported. And unfortunately, maternity leave and parenthood are not geared up towards supporting the parents.

Maternity Leave Wasn’t Idyllic (And Not Just For Me)

I drive home and sob thinking about the situation that I am facing. I have been blindly following a pack of parents who are all moving in the same direction. And from my brief conversations with parents, many are not feeling great either. Or, at the very least, not how they expected this fairytale life of maternity leave would feel.

I think before you start maternity leave you have this idealistic vision of what it will be like. The jobs in the house you will finally finish, that you will finally fit into your old jeans, and you will have those coffee dates that we all long for. Whereas the reality is you just don’t have that free time at all.

My Darkest Moment

I pull up to our house and can’t even begin to get out of the car. I feel stuck, frozen in time not knowing how to get through this realisation of reality. I tell myself, ‘don’t go in the house, go for a walk.’ 

As I strap Eva into her carrier I blindly walk into a beautiful forest out the back of our house, like so many times before this. But this time I feel detached. Fully conscious but not in my body. 

I find myself standing on the locally named ‘Red Bridge’ and very matter-of-factly start looking for somewhere to put Eva so that she could be found once I have decided to take my own life. I walk back and forth across the bridge, taking my time to secure her safety. But it dawns on me that there isn’t anywhere at all for her. I take a deep breath, sniff her beautiful head, and decide that I need to go home. 

As I shut the door to our home, a switch turns back on and the realisation of what I had very nearly done sank in. I was filled with guilt and so many questions. How could I have left Freddie? Dale? My family? My friends? How do I never put myself in this position again? I can’t walk alone again.

Sending Out A Lifeline On Facebook

I pick up my phone and create a post, raw and real, on how parenting can be rubbish. I say, ‘if you are sick of feeling alone in this, then I will be at this location, at this time, tomorrow’. And I press send. 

Anxiety hits! ‘What happens if no one turns up?’ my husband asks after I explain (through a wave of snot and tears) how lonely and isolated I feel. My reply is, I will continue to walk. Who cares if I bared all and no one comes? I hope the post helped someone to feel a little less alone and odd. 

In my previous experience, I found that no one wanted to hear about the crap parts of parenthood, the truly raw moments of terror we can find ourselves in. But maybe when we walk, more truthful moments will arise and parents can drop their armour to be authentically themselves. 

I wake the next day to the post being shared 25 times, not many comments but a lot of shares and I am excited to see if what I am feeling is felt by others. 

I turn the corner and see 9 mammas all looking as frazzled as I am. Instantly, I start to cry with this overwhelming feeling of support and understanding. 

The Start Of Something Life-Changing

This moment is when my maternity leave started. I felt like Kayleigh. Not Kayleigh ‘pre-baby Eva’, but Kayleigh 3.0. This woman has lived through something that not many would have, and I feel grateful for it. I’m proud of my bravery to share. 

This was when Mamma Social Co was born. It was no longer a need for me to get well from PTSD and Postnatal Depression, but a communal need to heal. From the first walk, it quickly grew arms and legs of its own. And within no time at all we were recruiting parent-lead volunteers throughout the Northeast and, one year on, nationally. The tribe and community we are continuing to build is brave and parent-focused. 

42% of parents identify as isolated in the first years of parenthood and a massive 85% identify as lonely. This is far too high. By creating a parenting organisation that creates events, activities, support, connection and community for all parents: we will combat isolation and loneliness within parenthood one walk at a time. 

Become A Parent Lead

Mamma Social Co’s free sessions are facilitated by incredible volunteers across the whole of the UK. These wonderful individuals are called Parent Leads. Starting in the North East of England, they now host sessions as far as Scotland all the way down to Kent.

Parent Leads range from mums with both babies and school-age children. Some run their sessions without their child too! We have franchise owners and business owners who have also come on board to volunteer with us, with some seeing up to a 40% increase in attendees at their own classes.

Complete Mamma Social Co’s volunteer form here and become a Parent Lead today

Finding Support 

Sometimes the hardest and bravest step is asking for help. When you take that step you are moving closer to recovery. 

Find out where to get help and support

 There are some brilliant charities that you can call (PANDAS and MumsAid just to list a couple). They specialise in specifically helping parents suffering mentally. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available 24 hours a day from the Samaritans by calling 116 123.

Want To Get Out And About, Have Fun With Your Baby Or Toddler, And Meet Other Parents?

Search Happity to find everything that’s happening for the under-5’s in your local area – from music and singing classes, to messy play, arts and crafts, baby massage, gymnastics and more. Simply enter your postcode and child’s age to search, and then book your spot in a few taps. Enjoy dedicated fun time with your little one, watch their skills develop, and make friends at the same time. Mums, dads, grandparents and carers will all find something to love!

Find a class today!

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Guest Author

This blog was written by a guest author. That means it was either created by an industry expert, medical professional, or someone from within the parenting community. You will be able to find out more information about them within the blog. Thank you so much for popping in to give it your support!