"I first used the children’s centre when I was pregnant and found the atmosphere created by the team welcoming and reassuring."
At a rather daunting time, knowing that on my doorstep there was somewhere I could go where there were friendly people and other mothers who would be going through the same things as me was a real comfort.
Once I had given birth the children’s centre team made a personal visit to see me at home and again I felt like there was someone I could turn to who would
be able to advise and help out if needs be.
Building my confidence
Once I was able to leave the house I attended the children’s centre to have Rory, my son, weighed and to meet the health visitor. Whilst there I was informed of all the different classes going on and I was really keen to attend the Baby Massage course and also joined the Parenting Skills course.
Baby massage was amazing, as I hadn’t really had the confidence to interact with my son and move him about - when they are so little you don’t want to disturb them! (especially if they aren’t crying!!). This also helped with things like how to get baby from a pram into a building, what to take out of the house with you and not being too embarrassed if they cry. This all seems so basic now but having hardly had any contact with a newborn before I had no idea.
Whilst on the course the Baby Massage teacher gave us a hints and tips session at the end of the class and I learnt loads about brushing teeth, lowering the risk of cot death and similar things that, to be honest, I don’t think I would have known otherwise. Needless to say this course was excellent and we both thoroughly enjoyed it - I just wish I could have done more classes!
The parenting course (Incredible Years) was also excellent, full of interesting information and videos and songs... I also met several mums that I was able to chat with and get to know. As with the Baby Massage class, I learned loads of things that I wouldn't have known otherwise.
Life saving support
The other massive help was the support that the team gave me whilst I had cancer. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with a Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which was in the form of a lump in my breast. I talked to Paula, who runs the children’s centre, and the team about the lump. As I was breast-feeding the GP assumed it was just a milk lump.
When it first appeared it was the size of a pea and it then grew over 4 months to a lump the size of a squash ball. Throughout this time the team were helpful and actually advised that I speak to Jane, the breast-feeding councillor. She was amazing and really encouraged me to pursue it and not just let the doctor put it down to milk as, in her experience, she had never heard of anything like this.
On her advice I pushed the GP for a referral to the hospital for a biopsy and I’m so glad that I did as a week after diagnosis I was having chemotherapy so time really was of the essence.
Dedication in a crisis
During the chemo the team at the Children’s Centre and Jane all contacted me to check I was ok and to offer any help that they could both more generally and with Rory.
Although my family were amazing with childcare towards the end of treatment I actually really needed some assistance, as my husband is self-employed so every day he didn’t work we didn’t have any money. The Children’s Centre arranged for a childminder to have Rory whilst I was really unwell from the chemo and for this I am very grateful.
I was given the all clear from my cancer and, as my way of saying thank you to the Children’s Centre for all their support, I used my skills as a Marketing Manager to organise their attendance at the Carnival - complete with a huge walking Stompy the Caterpillar who certainly drew plenty of attention!