‘It was the first time anyone actually listened to what I had to say’ - women praise Norfolk charity which helped them cope with pregnancy loss
PUBLISHED: 15:33 09 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:04 10 February 2017
Copyright: Archant 2017
“They saved my life” - these were the words of a woman who found help and support with a Norfolk charity, after suffering four miscarriages over the space of 10 years.
Victoria Waterfield, 38, is now a volunteer for Time Norfolk.
The charity provides free, confidential support to women and their partners who have experienced a pregnancy loss through miscarriage, termination or still birth. They also provide care for women who are facing an unplanned or complicated pregnancy or have other pregnancy related issues such as pre- or post-natal depression or infertility.
But it was not too long ago that Ms Waterfield was a client herself, giving her a unique level of empathy when she meets clients.
“I had four miscarriages over the period of a decade, the NHS would not do anything to help e to find out why I kept miscarrying,” said Ms Waterfield, who lives in Norwich and has an 11-year-old son.
“After the last one, in 2013, I had a breakdown but still I was made to wait 18 weeks to see a specialist - who didn’t even take my temperature - and I tried to take my own life because I felt there was no other way out.”
Ms Waterfield said the miscarriages had made her feel useless.
“It’s like you can’t do the most basic function of being a women,” she said.
“And the terms the doctors use such a ‘product of conception’ for the baby, when I was told to go home and flush it down the toilet. I was left to labour at home on my own.”
Ms Waterfield had what is known as a missed miscarriage, where the baby has died but the body does not recognize the pregnancy loss, or expel the pregnancy tissue.
“So my body was clinging on to this baby for dear life,” she said.
“It was very traumatic, it was basically giving birth with nothing at the end of it.”
After going through the heartbreak of the miscarriage, Ms Waterfield was visited by a social worker from Hellesdon Hospital, and referred to Time Norfolk.
“It was the first time anyone actually listened to what I had to say,” she said.
After an initial session, Ms Waterfield was matched with a counsellor who she said was a “perfect fit.”
“There was such a huge relationship between us, and I trusted her. Every week I grew stronger.
“It was about feeling I had not been heard.”
Now, Ms Waterfield volunteers in the office and is going through training to become a counsellor herself.
“It gives me the empathy,” she said. “A lot of people who don’t have experience of it say things like ‘don’t worry you can try again’ or ‘at least you already have one child’.
“People just don’t understand.”
And Time Norfolk do not only help women who have experienced pregnancy loss in recent years.
Linda Barden, 69, lost her first son Andrew back in the 1970s, but only found help with the charity in 2015.
Mrs Barden, from Norwich said: “In 2015 I was going through a difficult family situation and I was diagnosed with cancer. The weight of that was enough to push me over the edge. When I lost my son I had no support whatsoever and it stayed with me all my life. It would hit me in the face when I was faced with stressful situations.
“When Andrew was born he was whisked away from me, I didn’t even have the chance to hold his hand.”
Andrew was taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital, with Mrs Barden only being told he was very ill and left on the ward with other mothers who had their babies.
It was only later she was told her son had died.
Mrs Barden, who has another two sons, also had counselling through Time Norfolk.
“I was made to feel so at ease, and I felt so safe to come out and say things,” she said.
To help Time Norfolk carry on the work they do, the charity applied for a grant from Comic Relief last year, and received £1,000.
Ruth Kettle, fundraising and events co-ordinator, said: “We can say that paid for around 25 face-to-face counselling sessions.
“On average, people take around eight to 10 sessions so that paid for two or three clients to complete their journey with us,”
But she said even small amounts of money helped.
“Finding funding is hard nowadays, with government cuts and the NHS doesn’t have the money to offer us. So we apply for small grants.
“Having money from Comic Relief coming in is a massive thing for us, so we can spend more time on working with our clients rather than searching for funding.”
• Deserving community groups like Time Norfolk shared almost £40,000 in charity cash last year, distributed by this newspaper in association with the Norfolk Community Foundation and Comic Relief – and this year we’ve teamed up again. If your group would benefit from a grant of up to £1,000, more details will be announced on March 24.
As a registered charity operating in the Norfolk area since 1999, Time Norfolk offer time, compassion, information and practical support at the point of need through a team of dedicated volunteers.
One-to-one counselling is offered free to clients to help deal with the pain associated with miscarriage, termination or stillbirth, They work with clients for an average of 12 sessions however the charity does not put a limit on the level of support.
Volunteer practitioners are trained to work through the thoughts, feelings and emotions clients are experiencing, enabling them to look to the future.
Head of operations Lesley Bradfield said: “Our referrals come from GPs, wellbeing, health visitors, midwives - everywhere. The dmeand is high, and already in January our clients numbers doubled from January 2016.”
• To read more from those helped by Time Norfolk, click on one of the stories in the graphic above.