#MoreThanAMutha is all about celebrating the things that women are, as well as being amazing mothers. In a world where many women feel like they lose their identity when they become a mum, it is important to celebrate and shout that we might be mums, but we are not only that and we are still a force to be reckoned with.
What makes you more than a mother?
It’s hard to think of myself as “more than” as I think that all us Mummies do a million and one things, but I guess my list of challenges is slightly different and not “the norm”. I’m a Mummy of triplets, who were born at 32 weeks on 1 February 2016: Roman, Essie and Eva. Unfortunately Essie suffered a catastrophic brain injury (those Doctors don’t mince their words!) due to Twin to Twin Transfusion at birth – which is rare, but clearly happens as Essie proves. She was left severely disabled and life limited as a result, not expected to live beyond childhood and we were told to expect no sight, no hearing, no movement and no communication. My “more than” journey started out in a very dark place, as while never diagnosed, I must have had some form of PTSD – as didn’t want to be Essie’s Mummy and was terrified of her coming home. The irony now, as I honestly couldn’t love my girl more and am in awe of how much she taught me. Essie lived a life full of love and laughter and flew away to be a shooting star on 13 August 2017; forever aged 18 months. So now I’m juggling grief, working full time, needing to work on my self care and mental health by running. As well as raising Roman and Eva who will always be Essie’s legacy. Oh and I’m determined to spread the word about just how amazing Essie is far and wide, while raising much needed awareness and funds for Chestnut Tree House (the children’s hospice Essie went to).
Are people surprised when they realise you are more than a mum? Does that bother you?
When I was pregnant I was blissfully naive to the fact that life could be cruel and all that we had to face. I guess people are surprised that I’m a Mummy to triplets, have deal with severe childhood disability, gone through an end of life phase for my daughter that lasted almost five months and am still standing! People often don’t know how to deal with stigma and in many ways I had the triple whammy: disability, death/grief and mental health. Am I strong? No. I’m a Mummy and have learnt to fight as hard as I could for my children (all three of them) and would do it time and time again if I had to. Life is precious and life is for living. Essie taught me that.
What challenges do you face when you’re juggling motherhood and being more than a mum?
Mum guilt!!!! Always there, it never goes away. Regrets build up daily, but as a working Mummy I have to do what is best for me. As to use that phrase from the fabulous Mrs Gi Fletcher: Happy Mum, Happy Baby. You can’t do it all, but that won’t stop the guilt. Childcare in this country is so expensive, but we have been blessed to find a Nanny who has been with us since the kids were seven months old and she is part of our family. Society still judges a mother who works and the working world is taking slow steps forward to help, whether it’s through flexible working or helping out with childcare. I just want things to be different when my kids are at work, especially as the mother to a feisty little daughter. I would like there to be more kindness and equality in the world, but maybe I’m wishing for too much… I hope I’m not.
How long did it take you to remember you were more than a mother after you had your child(ren)?
I’ve always been Lorna, but sometimes you’re “Mummy” or with our numerous trips to hospital with Essie I was often “Essie’s Mum”. Your identity does change when you become a Mummy, but it’s more because others deem it so – guess the onus is on us to maintain “who we are”. In many ways, mine kicked in when I had to go into work mode when Essie was eight weeks old as the NHS wasn’t going to give us any help when Essie came home from hospital so I fought and that’s when “Mummy loves Essie” started. It was a campaign to get the NHS to recognise the uniqueness of our situation and to pass judgement on Essie’s eligibility based on a tick box paper questionnaire wasn’t acceptable. And I won… Essie came home on 19 April 2016 aged 11 weeks and each time things got worse, back I’d go and fight for more help and more support. I don’t want anyone else to be pushed to a millimetre away from their breaking point, like we were.
Who, or what, helps you to make time for yourself? What do you do to escape the stresses of motherhood?
Work in a funny way is my release. It is “me time”, but I am open with everyone about our personal situation as it has shaped the person I now am. Plus running. I need to run to clear my head… Head space is so important and it gives me time to talk to Essie (or Pops as we call her). Writing this, I’ve not run for almost two weeks due to the crappy weather and I can feel it.
What advice would you offer a mum who might not be feeling like they are more than someones mum right now?
You’ve got this and never compare yourself to anyone. What goes on behind closed doors is often different to the image you might see on social media! If society would stop judging, I think that would make the world a happier place.
Any advice for someone who is going through the same things as you are right now in their quest to be #MoreThanAMutha?
Anyone who is a Mummy to a disabled baby (or child), I want to give a big hug to and meet up for a huge glass of wine! I’m always happy to listen and just hope our story will help someone/anyone feel a little less alone. Having a disabled child under the age of 3 means you need to fight as the system doesn’t recognise disability properly until a child is 3 years old, which is madness. Keep fighting and trust your gut; it’s more valuable that any medical knowledge as you know your child. To anyone who’s on their grief journey. I’m there too and it’s horrid and the worst emotional rollercoaster ever. But keep going – one day at a time, that’s all you need to get through.
Who would you like to see featured next in the #MoreThanAMutha series?
Are you #MoreThanAMutha? Get in touch to share your story.