Pregnancy loss charity to open new centre in Norfolk
The demand on pregnancy loss charity TimeNorfolk's services has grown to such an extent that a new centre will open in Great Yarmouth in April.
TimeNorfolk currently has one centre on Catton Grove Road in Norwich which provides free and confidential help and support to anyone:
Who has experienced pregnancy loss through miscarriage, termination, still birth or an ectopic pregnancy
With an unplanned pregnancy
Needing support through their pregnancy
Needing support for other pregnancy related issues - infertility, pre or postnatal depression.
TimeNorfolk started over 20 years ago but has recently experienced a huge increase in the need for its services. The new centre will be based at the Priory, adjacent to the Minster in Great Yarmouth. Funding has been received from The Tampon Tax Community Fund, Dreams and Visions and help from the Paul Basham Charitable Trust in order to open the new centre in the East of the region.
Director Lesley Bradfield said, "In the last two to three years, our numbers of clients have grown by 65%. We are the only service in Norfolk that provides what we do and it’s free. Baby loss is not the taboo subject it was years ago.”
TimeNorfolk practitioners meet clients on a 1:1 basis or in small groups and offer help and support to the wider family as well.
Lesley said, “We support the young girl who doesn’t know what to do if she finds she is pregnant to the older woman who has had her family and then finds out she is pregnant. We support women who have had several losses and then find they are pregnant. Every day they think, am I going to lose this baby? We’re passionate in Norfolk, we want a service that anyone can come to, whether a parent, grandparent or other family member, they can come.”
Counselling is not the only service offered at TimeNorfolk. In October 2018, the charity ran a baby loss awareness day which was attended by 75 health professionals. Each year there is a Doorway of Hope service at Norwich Cathedral. The charity also works closely with the midwifery centre at UEA and with the Norfolk and Norwich hospital.
On February 28th, the charity held its annual event at Virgin Money lounge in Norwich to say thank you to volunteers and businesses for their support over the last year. During the evening, guests heard updates about the charity from Selina Watts, the Chair of Trustees and from Lesley. Three clients also bravely shared their stories of pregnancy loss and grief and how it had affected their families. They also spoke about the incredible support they had received from TimeNorfolk.
Tara from Great Yarmouth fell pregnant in January 2015. At 20 weeks, she found out she was having a girl and the pregnancy went smoothly.
In late October, Tara carried on with her normal routine including taking the dog for a walk, but she realised she hadn’t felt her baby move. Tara had a bath but still no movement. She then went directly to the hospital.
“The midwife put the monitor on my body and there was no heartbeat. I remember her face, it was white. She didn’t know what to say to me but I knew. She got the consultant who said ‘I’m sorry, you’ve lost your baby.’ I started to shout at my partner, ‘you need to do something’.”
Tara had to go back on her due date to be induced for labour. She named her little girl Darcy and was told there was no reason for her stillbirth.
“To leave a hospital without a baby is the cruelest thing. We didn’t get offered any help or counselling. Dealing with it took over my life.”
Tara heard about TimeNorfolk at a meeting with a group who had experienced loss in their lives.
“It’s great to hear that TimeNorfolk will be in Great Yarmouth soon, there is such a need for it there.”
In 2017, Sarah found out she was expecting her first child and her pregnancy was labelled low risk and even ‘perfect’. When her contractions started at 40 weeks and 5 days she called the midwife and was advised to stay at home during early labour. Just before the conversation ended, the midwife asked about the baby’s movements. Sarah wasn’t sure and so was asked to come to hospital to check.
Sarah and her husband were very excited about meeting their baby as they arrived. The midwife put a monitor onto her body but there was no sound. She was told not to worry.
“Next, the doctor came in and also said don’t worry. After a minute or so, she looked at me with the kindest, loveliest eyes and said “I’m sorry, there’s no heartbeat. My dreams were shattered, then I had to call my family around the world. They were expecting me to say whether it was a boy or girl, but I had to shatter their dreams too. “
The couple went home and when the labour progressed, they drove back to the hospital.
“We had a little girl and they asked me if I wanted skin to skin, I said No. When we were ready, the midwife gave Eliza Jane to her Daddy. He looked at her and fell head over heels for our little girl. I looked at her and so did I. We were in love with Eliza Jane, she didn’t have to scream or cry.”
The couple spent time with their baby. They had castings made of her hands and feet, photographs with family and a naming ceremony with a chaplain.
“We walked out of that hospital with a bag. We had to leave our baby there. How would we survive this? We were ready to bring her home.”
At the hospital, they heard about TimeNorfolk and were put in touch with the charity. Just a week after Eliza’s death, Liam lost his mum too. Now they had to deal with two traumatic deaths in a short space of time.
“The sessions with our counsellor included Liam’s mum. The sessions taught us about the 5 stages of grief, they helped us so much at the start of pregnancy loss. We will continue to share our story because we want others to know that you can survive stillbirth and even continue to have joy in your hearts.”
Lauren’s experience with TimeNorfolk has led to a new job. Lauren has recently been appointed as the fundraising, marketing and communications officer at the charity. She also shared her personal story at the evening event.
When Lauren’s youngest daughter started school, she began to think about having another baby and when they felt ready, Lauren and her husband fell pregnant.
At 13 weeks pregnant and close to the 3 month scan, they were planning how to tell their two girls about the new baby. But that morning, Lauren experienced some pink staining so she called the midwife for reassurance and was sent for an early scan.
“I hoped I was worrying needlessly and I would be sending friends photos of the scan, the waiting was awful, I went into the room shaking.”
The scan showed no signs of a baby, there was a pregnancy sac, but no baby. Lauren had suffered a missed miscarriage. She had lost the baby very early on, but her body had not yet realised.
“I couldn’t get my head around the fact there was nothing there, I had names for that ‘nothing’ and I loved that ‘nothing’.”
“I needed to be there for my family but my feelings were overwhelming. I didn’t know where to turn so I searched online and found TimeNorfolk. Following a phone call I went to meet them and I was paired with Vicky.”
“Vicky quickly identified that my happy mask was fragile and each week I was able to let go of all my pain in that room. She took the pressure off me and helped me find positives in an awful situation. She taught me how to look after myself and because of her my family have the proper me back. Our lost baby has become part of our story and the experience with TimenNorfolk has made us more resilient against other obstacles.”
How you can help
If you would like to find out more about the charity TimeNorfolk, please see the website www.timenorfolk.org.uk or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The helpline for anyone who has suffered a pregnancy loss is 03333058552 or 01603 927487
Information about volunteering, training opportunities and donations can be found on the website.
Pictured above: Lauren Willmott speaking at the TimeNorfolk event