A blog from FNP graduate, Georgia
I heard about FNP through my midwife. I wasn’t in the best of places at the time. I don’t speak to my mum and I don’t have much family around. At the time I was worried they’d want to take the baby off me. I felt annoyed because I felt like they thought I couldn’t cope. I was 17, I knew I was young. I didn’t have a support network and I needed one. The midwife could see that and she was right.
Helen, the family nurse, came to see me when I was about 16 weeks into my pregnancy. She explained what FNP was all about. I had severe anxiety and I knew I didn’t want to join any kind of group so it was a relief to hear that it was one-to-one support. I felt right from the beginning that Helen wasn’t judging me and there was no pressure, which I think is important. It was my choice to join the programme.
I learnt so much from Helen. I have three massive folders full of information from the programme on pregnancy, babies and toddlers – everything you’d want to know.
I didn’t know anything about how to give birth for example. Helen showed me the different stages of labour and brought a baby doll to show how it all actually worked. It meant when it happened, when Arya was born, I knew what was coming at every stage of labour.
Helen also taught me that my baby is learning from the day she’s born. She taught me to sing to Arya and to read to her. She also showed me a milestone checker so that I could track her development. She always passed with flying colours! Now Arya is nearly two and she’s so clever. She can sing songs, she can count to twenty. She talks all the time. I don’t think Arya would be this clever if I hadn’t known how to help her learn right from the very start.
Things weren’t easy though. I had a few family problems and there were times in my visits in pregnancy that Helen gave me the space and time to get things off my chest when I needed to. I had really bad anxiety back then and it took me a few months to admit that to myself and to Helen. But she came to the doctor with me and helped me access a counsellor. Helen was there for me any time I needed her when things were difficult. I knew I could text or call, or leave a message at the office and I always knew that they’d pass on my message.
The best thing about FNP is having someone there for you. Everything in the programme is amazing, but it’s the person who comes to your house that makes it so brilliant. I felt like I had someone. The midwife and doctor are there, yes, but your family nurse is always there for you, all the time. I rang her for advice when Arya was ill – when she got a bruise after an immunisation injection for example. I spoke to her because I trust her, I knew I’d get an answer and I wouldn’t be fobbed off, or passed from pillar to post.
At the beginning, when I started FNP, I couldn’t walk to the shops on my own because of my anxiety. Even recently, I was so scared about enrolling at college, but I did it. I quit school at 15 so I’m doing a maths course now and I’m planning to do a mental health qualification next year and then I’m going to go on to university. I’ve had jobs before, like working in a café, but having Arya makes me feel differently. I want her to look up to me as a working mum, I want a career of my own. I don’t want her to know about my childhood, or that I quit school.
I graduated early from FNP in March this year, when Arya was about 16 months old. I felt really proud of that. By that time I had a new family nurse, Lynne, and she said she felt I was ready and that I didn’t need her support any more to be a great mum. It was emotional saying goodbye, I definitely shed a tear! You become close with your family nurse. Lynne made my last visit really special. We went with Arya to a soft play centre, we had a lovely chat and she gave me a card with some feedback about how well I’d done. She’d remembered things I’d done all through the programme and she said she’d never forgot what I’d achieved. I’ll never forget her either.
If I had to sum up family nurse partnership in three words, I’d say it was a motivating, positive experience.