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Clare's Story

Clare (pictured) can happily play and sing with her children now – a scene that at some points in her pregnancy, she thought she’d never experience. 

Clare was struggling with mental health problems combined with the added pressure of raising triplets when she first came to the attention of Helping Hands. She was finding it hard to get her triplets into feeding and sleeping routines and couldn’t confidently leave the house.

When her babies were born back in April 2015 they all needed specialist care in neonatal units. This put a huge strain on Clare as she juggled travelling between hospitals and expressing milk with the constant worry they would all be healthy and safe. When she finally had all her newborns at home, she was mentally and physically exhausted.


Clare says she was on the verge of breaking down when her Helping Hands application was accepted. 

“You think they’re going to benefit the children, but I’d say 80% of what Helping Hands did was care for and support me,” said Clare, 27. “No one wants to say they’re struggling to cope but I never felt like I was being judged.  Lucy, our support practitioner, always felt like I was chatting to a best friend.”

 

Clare has suffered from mental health problems – diagnosed as borderline personality disorder – since adolescence. She had chronic depression, anxiety and what she called “extreme emotions” – having her first admission to an acute unit when she was just 14 years old. She had 5-6 years of good mental health when she decided to start a family and looked forward to having a child.

But when Clare and her former partner, Mahmoud Youns, 30, failed to become pregnant and instead opted for IVF treatment, Clare’s anxiety started to escalate.

“The pressure of the whole IVF process started to make me anxious,” said Clare. “I then had a really horrendous pregnancy with severe anxiety and depression and I was in and out of hospital. I suffered from obstetric cholestasis and when things starting going physically wrong, it really affected me mentally as well.

“I was looking forward to having my babies, after thinking I might not ever have children, but there was constant anxiety too.”

The babies were born via emergency caesarean section on 4th April 2015. All three triplets – named Noah, Jacob and Saraiyah – needed specialist care and were split between two hospitals. Clare spent all her time travelling between the hospitals and expressing milk. “I wasn’t really spending any quality time with any of my children,” said Clare. “As soon as I’d seen one baby, I’d have to set off to see the others.”

Eventually the babies were well enough to come home. But Clare says her partner was doing long hours at work, worrying about the financial strain of triplets, so she was the sole person looking after three little ones.

Clare said: “I really wanted to be ‘well’ and give my babies the best life I possibly could and not cloud their childhood with my mental illness. I often hit rock bottom, but I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel.

“The routine that Lucy, a Norland College trained Support Practitioner, from Helping Hands showed us was the best gift we could have. That routine has stayed with us as they have grown. From waking up in the morning, they’re now coordinated in their feeding, changing and napping – before they were doing everything at different times and they had really bad reflux too, which just added to the problems.”

Clare admits she worried her prior mental health problems would affect the care Helping Hands provided. But she needn’t have been concerned. “I never felt judged, or like I was being lectured,” she explained.

“Before Helping Hands I’d felt like I had nowhere else left to turn,” she said. “Before Lucy came I think I was just running on adrenalin and I never felt I could be honest with anyone about how rubbish I felt.

“When the day came that I was finally discharged as a service user from the mental health services, I was so happy. I no longer met the criteria for the label I’d dragged around with me for the last decade.”

Clare now has an appropriate routine for caring for the triplets, who turned two earlier this year, and they now enjoy time out as a family. She feels confident heading out with her triplet buggy and the children are happy and active.

“We’re so happy now and I can’t thank Lucy and Helping Hands enough,” said Clare. “If I hadn’t had that support, I’m not sure what life would have been like now. Lucy gave me the routine and confidence I needed to enjoy being a parent.”

Anyone wishing to support Helping Hands can donate by clicking below

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or send a cheque payable to “Tamba” to Helping Hands Fundraising, Tamba, Manor House, Church Hill, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU12 4JU.

Alternatively you can text TWIN03 £5 (or £10) to 70070.  If you would like to fundraise please email us. Thank you.

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