Today is our first local Bliss meeting. Bliss used to be called "The Premature Baby Charity", however is now more rightly known as "Bliss: for babies born too soon, too small, too sick" and encompasses any family who have had a baby who has needed special care after birth, for whatever reason.
When Joseph was born, I was desperate for support. I longed to meet other mothers who had walked this path, to know what I was thinking and feeling was normal, to have a cuppa with someone who could understand my anguish. So many other people "on the outside" couldn't understand why I was so upset, after all, my baby was alive, just small.
At the time, nothing was available locally, I used the Bliss phone line, and their Parents 4 Parents service, for which I am now a volunteer, and I used the message board, when I could bring myself to concentrate at a computer screen. I needed human contact, a voice, a touch.
During the time Joseph was in hospital my main support were the hospital chaplains, and I cannot visualise what my time in hospital would have been like without the chaplaincy service. A friendly cuppa, a prayer, a cuddle. The chaplains used to pop in and visit Joseph, sometimes when I wasn't there, and leave a little calling card to say they had been.
Sometimes, I find, that up here in the North West people don't reach out. I'm hoping to be pleasantly suprised today, however I am concerned that it might just be the "usual suspects". I sincerely hope I am wrong and people use today as an opportunity to reach out, and to ask for help, or have a friendly natter with somoen who understands.
And I am grateful now, that I can be that person, that I am no longer distressed and frightened, just a happy, if somewhat frazzled mother of a toddler!