My name is Ruth Briddon and I was recently asked to describe myself in a tweet, to which I replied ‘Single Mum says what every other Mum thinks but sometimes daren’t say!’.
When you’re a Mum you talk to so many other Mums and they’ve all got a story to tell. I love people watching and listening to others experiences so I decided to collate my ‘information’ and write a book. Being Sarah Chilton (a guide for all Mums when the sh*t hits the fan) has been three years in the making. Sarah is a lovable character and she represents thousands of women, worldwide, who are forced to fight the stigma attached to being a single parent. Some deny the stigma, but it’s out there and I firmly believe that Sarah Chilton is the woman to fight the cause and change how some people in society view single Mums. Some of the events in Sarah’s life mirror mine but I didn’t realise how much I enjoyed writing or what a fabulous imagination I have, which enabled me to enhance, change and fabricate the experiences I had in order to build a good story. I also wanted to have a ‘villain’ in my book, which is where Chris comes in.
As for me, I’m a mum to Alex, who’s ten. My husband left us when Alex was a baby and that was really hard to deal with. I also had postnatal depression, which added to the stress. Unfortunately, this illness wasn’t picked up by any of the health professionals around me so I didn’t realise I was ill and just thought I was going mad. I lied on the Edinburgh Postnatal Scale form because I thought I would be judged. I didn’t want to see, or talk, to anyone so by lying on the form wouldn’t draw any attention to myself.
When Alex was about five I studied hard for my Diploma in Counselling with the aim of focussing on PND. I firmly believe that expectant parents should not only prepare physically for their new career, but also mentally and being a parent, especially for the first time, should be treated as if you were embarking on a new career. I now talk at three local Children’s Centres about how to prepare mentally and to explore expectations of labour, birth and coping. It’s quite astonishing how some people own up to their true feelings after I explain the statistics for PND and how acceptable it is to admit if you’re not feeling the expected elation after birth. My website, http://www.postnatalsupport.com has ‘Your Plan B’ available for purchase. It’s an invaluable tool, especially for Mums and Dads who have perhaps experienced depression in the past, who are worried about being a parent and maybe felt depressed during pregnancy.
In my opinion, and experience, being a parent is an undervalued achievement. Because millions of women give birth across the world every year, I felt a little embarrassed at admitting I had feelings of regret, disappointment and fear when Alex was born so I kept quiet and suffered in silence. I cannot stress enough how important it is to admit your feelings. 1 in 10 new Mums will have PND and 1 in 25 Dads, so please don’t suffer in silence. PND is an illness and can affect anyone.
Be proud of what you’ve achieved. You’re bringing new life into the world. Take each day as it comes, be kind to yourself and don’t expect to adapt from day one or know everything straightaway. Enjoy the journey, it’s certainly entertaining!
At long last Sarah Banner has finally bagged her perfect man; she can see the perfect house with the white picket fence and room for a pony coming into view and even hear the distant chime of wedding bells and the pitter patter of tiny feet. It’s all going to be so wonderful well, not quite … Follow the often hilarious trials and tribulations of one, ever so ordinary, Mum who is left literally holding the newborn baby, whilst trying to keep her job, home and sanity. Battling with what feels like half the cast of a Harry Potter movie, plotting her revenge against Voldermort and tackling the institutions and stigma of single motherhood all take their toll, Will it be the wine, Classic FM, TV or Prozac to the rescue?