Since the start of the pandemic, around 750,000 mums in the UK have given birth. But it’s not been an easy time for them. Ria Evans, Spurgeons Together for Families worker in Hodge Hill, shares a glimpse of what new motherhood has really been like.
Flanked by two motorways, the 1960s estates of Bromsford and Firs were originally dominated by tower blocks, but most have now been demolished.
Tina* lives alone in a cold, damp flat on the seventh floor of one of the remaining blocks. Just before the pandemic, she fell pregnant. She didn’t have the best childhood herself, and she’d grown up being told that she was no good. But she was absolutely determined to do all she could to give her baby the best start in life.
Ria says, “She’d enthusiastically signed up to go to all the support groups she could at the Tame Valley Children’s Centre, which is where I’m based. But then the Centre had to shut and the groups were cancelled. Instead, Tina was trapped in her flat, just her, a bump and four walls, worrying about what the future would bring.”
The prospect of motherhood both excited and terrified Tina. “She didn’t know if she could cope,” remembers Ria.
“Every week, I went round and stood on her doorstep, or went for walks with her to offer emotional support and advice and reassure her that it was all going to be fine.”
Later, in a hospital delivery room, surrounded by strangers in masks and gowns and with no family allowed in to support her, Tina gave birth to a little girl, Casey*. Ria observes, “A lot of expectant mums like Tina have been terrified that they or their baby might contract Covid in hospital – and sadly in some cases that has happened. But thankfully, Tina and her baby were both absolutely fine.”
Ria continued with her doorstep visits when Tina came home with her new daughter. More recently, the Children’s Centre has reopened, and Tina has been taking Casey along to Songs and Story sessions. Ria laughs, “It’s wonderful to watch them both – it’s hard to tell which of them enjoys those sessions more!
“I think Tina’s surprised herself. She told me, ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this!’ and I said, ‘You are – we supported you, but you’re the one who is with your baby day in, day out!’ She’s listened and learned, she puts her baby first, and she’s developed a strong and hopefully enduring bond with Casey. Tina’s done what she set out to do – given her baby the best start in life. I’m proud of her.”
About Spurgeons’ Together for Families:
Our Together for Families programme puts dedicated staff within our children’s centres to encourage local churches in their community to work with children, young people and their families. The teams also link parents with more specialist family support to help them with physical or mental health issues, debt, financial hardship or employment problems.
To learn more about the Together for Families Service, click here.