You may or may not know a whole lot about my background, about what brought me to this place as a mum-of-2 running her own online business. It’s not a crazy story, nor a tragic one, not hilarious and not glitzy. Its normality and ordinariness is exactly why it needs to be told, because amongst the celebrity fashion lines and success through adversity, are the normal people fighting their own battles and quietly triumphing.
People like me are so normal, in fact, that we’re rarely spoken about, which means that we often feel very alone and isolated.
Born into and raised by the most typical of 1980s families, I had a perfectly happy family life, a less happy school life, and was generally quite – you guessed it – normal. I was shy, lacking in confidence, quite clever, unsure what I wanted to do in life except that I wanted to be a mum. I met Phil in 2011, we were engaged in 2012, married in 2013, became parents in 2014, pregnant again in 2015 and Martha arrived in 2016. Quick, simple, normal.
Post Natal Depression
Nothing could have prepared me for a year struggling to manage Toby’s silent reflux and resulting screams of pain, immediately followed by a rather rubbish and painful second (and final!) pregnancy, two-under-twos, and the overwhelming darkness of PND.
I remember going to the GP for my 6-week postpartum check and being spoken to like crap. “Oh she’s big, you must be bottle feeding.” Erm, no she’s exclusively breastfed and even if she was bottle fed that’s fine. “You MUST breastfeed for at least 2 years” …! Followed by this response when I said we were stopping at 2:
“Two children is not enough. You shouldn’t decide to stop now.”
Needless to say I didn’t feel like I could tell her that I alternated between feeling numb and feeling incredibly sad. About a month later, at an appointment for one of the children with a different GP, I broke down.
It’s not been an easy 4 years – especially the past 2 – but I’m so much stronger now, so I need to shout loudly about parental mental health so that nobody needs to ever feel alone if they haven’t got the support network I’m fortunate enough to have.
Launching a Business
What has all of that got to do with Apples & Pips? Well in short, motherhood and depression felt so overwhelming that I needed a project that could focus my mind on something I had some sort of control over. I had discovered so many amazing UK independent brands since having the babies, that it made sense to me that they were all in one place, and so Apples & Pips was born!
From day 1 I knew I wanted to donate to charities from every sale, and it wasn’t long before the random acts of kindness scheme took off. As the months went on my focus shifted to the bespoke gift sets and create-your-own hampers that are now putting Apples & Pips in the running for incredible awards, as well as in the media.
Recently my story has been featured in two newspapers in Lincolnshire – Grantham Journal and Stamford Mercury. Last week I was the runner-up in the Lincolnshire Tech and Innovation Awards for Online Retailer of the Year, coming in as Highly Commended.
I’m still that married mum-of-2 who battles depression and lives in a nice cottage in the countryside, but everything that makes me so normal has also made me extraordinary. Never let yourself think that normal is boring, because it truly isn’t.
Every single one of us is extraordinary and even in our darkest moments, we are worth shouting about, worth being heard, worthy of life.