‘They saved not only the bond with my daughter, but also my life!’

Mum, Jane Johnson, who accessed therapy through our NEWPIP (Newcastle Parent Infant Partnership) Service talks here about the transformative effects it had on the relationship between herself and her precious daughter, Amy.

Jane and Amy today

How were you referred to our NEWPIP Service Jane?

I was referred by my health visitor as I’d had prenatal depression and she saw that I was still very down after Amy was born. Furthermore, they recognised I also needed some help bonding with Amy. I already had an 11-month-old baby boy at the time and I felt I needed to talk to someone.

What kind of help did you get from the Service?

Peter Toolan, my therapist, firstly came to my house and did a numbered questionnaire on how I was feeling and that gave him something to work on. He was a very friendly and approachable man who never made me feel like I had to talk or be a certain way, he just listened. He was always so comforting! He was also brilliant at interacting with Amy. Peter really seemed to care and made the session that much easier.

Amy just had her third birthday

Your interactions with Amy were filmed as part of your therapy, how did that feel?

I was very nervous when Peter first mentioned it and I didn’t know how to be but it made absolute sense when I saw the videos afterwards. The first one we did was quite early on. I remember I was talking and singing with Amy, but I hadn’t realised that she wasn’t responding to me and kept moving her head away – maybe feeling my feelings. It helped me understand that I wanted to put more energy into singing and interacting with her, and within a couple of weeks, at the next session, she was laughing with me and looking at me. This was only seen by being videoed and was a brilliant tool to be used!

How would you describe your state of mind/relationship with your baby before engaging with NEWPIP? 

I was looking after her physical needs but emotionally I wasn’t. I would sit for hours mentally exhausted, crying for ages, which wasn’t healthy for her. I didn’t know how to break the cycle and enjoy my baby.

How would you describe your relationship today? 

She’s my little angel! She was three years old at the beginning of June (it’s gone by very quickly)! She’s such a happy, delightful, intelligent little girl. She loves to sing and dance, and we are forever laughing together. We both love each other so much!

What would you say to other new parents who might be struggling? Would you recommend NEWPIP?

I’d tell them to please seek help. It’s so good just to talk to someone! Everything will get easier, and it’s all a phase. You will also sleep again! I’d also remind them to look after themselves as it’s not easy! I would highly recommend NEWPIP. They saved not only the bond with my daughter but also my life!

What do you think Amy would say, if she had the words, about how things are now?

She would tell me how happy she is, and how she loves seeing her mummy being happy! She loves mummy taking her to dance classes and swimming and going on special mum and daughter dates. Also, she would want me to forever forgive myself because the way I was feeling, it wasn’t my fault

Amy’s happy and confident

How important do you think it is that Infant Mental Health Services are properly funded? Do you think infant mental health is as recognised as older children’s and adult mental health?

It’s so very important, but it’s such a postcode lottery if you’re going to be offered any help. I remember other people saying, ‘You just need to cry…’ But it’s so misunderstood. It’s not that easy! There should be advertising on maternity wards with numbers you can call. They make you so aware of what to look out for with the baby’s health, but never the mum or the relationship with the baby. I know the importance of early relationships is not as well known (I certainly hadn’t thought about it before) but without some support it can have terrible consequences! I wish I could shout about the amazing work of NEWPIP from the rooftops because they can and will save many lives!

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