Special Needs Parenting: When Did I Stop Introducing Myself as Me?

Sarah Kay by Sarah Kay Additional Needs

Sarah Kay

Sarah Kay

An honest (and hopefully positive!) chat through the rollercoaster journey we have found ourselves on; hopefully to raise awareness of HIE and supp...

I’m actually called Sarah. I have a first name and a surname, but I don’t seem to use them any more; many people I come in to contact don’t use them either.

I can remember so clearly the first time this happened. Heidi was a couple of days old, in NICU, and Steve and I were trying to catch a little bit of sleep in the parents’ room.

My mobile rang, I answered it.

“Is that Heidi’s Mum?"

Who? I actually thought they had got the wrong number.

Maybe it was just the tiredness, or the blur from having a baby in special care, but I didn’t relate to this new title at all.

I was kind of in shock from this call for quite a while; going over it, wondering if I should have felt immediately that of course I was a mum, Heidi’s mum, and then feeling incredibly guilty that I didn’t.*

Over the following days and weeks, more people said it, “Heidi’s Mum”, or sometimes just, “Mum”, – doctors, nurses, health visitors…this way of addressing me felt so alien, and to begin with I used to reply, “Yes, Sarah”, in the hope that they would use my name.

They didn’t, and so, “Heidi’s Mum”, I became.

Now, I fully understand that the professionals must see so many parents and carers, and it’s probably impossible to get to know and remember all their names. I get that.

Maybe though it would be nice just to be asked what you’re called, or even be told, “So sorry, I’ve forgotten your name, but don’t want to just say mum!”.

I wouldn’t be offended if they forgot my name, or got it wrong, and to be honest I would probably answer to pretty much anything!

I am now completely guilty of using, “Heidi’s mum”, as my go-to phrase if I need to introduce myself, or explain who I am.

Everyone knows Heidi (even people we don’t know seem to know her, I’m guessing from the blogs), and I now feel a sense of security from being her mum.

She’s the biggest part of my life.

Yes, I can remember what things were like before Heidi, when I wasn’t a mum, but I don’t want to think of life without her.

It may sound strange, but I think I am more confident as, “Heidi’s Mum”, than I am as just, “Sarah”.

I will stand my ground for things I believe in, and not worry so much about upsetting people (ok, I still do worry, but much less than I used to!) if I am fighting for something Heidi needs.

I am her biggest advocate, her voice, her therapist, her playpal, her friend, her mum. Heidi’s mum, and I’m more than happy with that.

*Just to note, it was my mum (Sarah’s Mum!) who reassured me that feeling like this once you’ve had a baby is completely normal. If you’re feeling like that right now, please talk to someone.

Those bloomin’ hormones, tiredness, and worry can do so much to our heads, but there is help out there so please grab it if needed.

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