Wondering why I bothered.

4:43 pm

Maybe sharing this letter here is not my wisest decision yet, frankly I'm so angry and upset right now, I don't care.
It's been a shitty day.

A letter to my gp:

Dear Dr T
I would like to thank you for your understanding when I came to the surgery a few weeks ago to discuss how difficult I was finding life after the sudden death of my daughter Florence in July 2009.
I'm sure you appreciate just how difficult it was for me to admit I was having problems coping emotionally.
I was relieved when you suggested counselling, and very much hoped being able to talk to someone outside of my family and close friends would be beneficial.
I remember at that appointment telling you I would only be able to attend daytime appointments if my youngest son (8 months old) would be welcome too. I honestly did not expect it to be a problem. He is still a babe in arms, safe in my sling,and feeding or sleeping. I am rarely without him, and after losing my daughter, I find even the thought of leaving him with anyone other than my husband, far too stressful.
My husband was able to take some time off work last week, and so for my first counselling session I was able to leave Ernest with him. When I explained to the counsellor that I would be bringing Ernest to future appointments, she did say it might be an issue, since the appointments were “about you”, but firmly believing that babies under one should be with their mothers as much as possible, I assured her it would not be a problem for me to have Ernest present.
I simply do not have anyone who could take care of Ernest anyway. My family lives in Birmingham, my mother in law in Wales, and my father in law is currently recovering from a hip replacement. The only friend available during the day who could take care of him, (because he knows her well.) lives a 20 minute car journey away and is currently taking pain medication which means she can't drive.
Today I came along to my second appointment, with Ernest happily snug in my sling. I was nervous, I hadn't particularly found the first session helpful, and had some small misgivings about the counsellor I was trying to not focus on.
After taking me upstairs to the counselling room, the counsellor began to explain to me that she couldn't see me with Ernest present, as it was “inadvisable”, and “against surgery rules”. (something I'm frankly baffled by, since over the years I've had several of my children present, as babies for various procedures including a cervical smear.)
I was confused, and I think my first reaction was to say that in that case I couldn't come. My perception was that the counsellor was quite confrontational. I'm not sure what reaction she expected from me, but I was feeling particularly vulnerable.
She suggested I go back on the waiting list for an evening appointment, but first asked me if I even wanted to continue with counselling.
I left the surgery in a hurry, with my head spinning, and trying very hard not to cry.
The counsellor said she had decided to wait to tell me she couldn't see me with Ernest present, rather than telephone me, which I find a curious choice, since it would've been far easier for me not to have to come to the surgery to hear her decision.
As I explained to you at my appointment, Ernest has had some feeding difficulties, and I am exclusively pumping breast milk for him. To accommodate a 12 o'clock appointment, I had to re arrange my pumping schedule, make sure Ernest was fed, and then walk for 20 minutes to get to the surgery. Incidentally I had that same 20 minute walk home, all the time trying not to sob in the street.
I'm left now with a feeling of deep disappointment, and a mistrust of counselling. I'm sorry I confided some of my story in this particular counsellor at my first session.
I'm proud of my daughter Florence, and will do whatever I can to protect her memory, and the tiny bit I have of her.
For this reason I'm now sorry I came to you for help, and I would like to cancel the appointment I had with you to follow up.

Don't be shy, say hello!


  1. what a load of bollocks, counselling should be about what makes you comfortable not some stupid rules she has made up. I hope you get an apology.

  2. Sorry not o have commented for some while but we have had computer problems.

    You were right to complain her behaviour was totally insensitive and unacceptable.

    If you feel you can confide in your GP for further help, please do so... it's not good to suffer in silence.

    If your GP is unhelpful is there an alternative GP in the practice you can turn to for support.

    Don't give up, not when you've had the courage to make your needs known.

    With love
    San xx

  3. How terrible for you to have to go through this. You've asked for help which is brave and this is the treatment you get? Hopefully the GP can refer you to another counselor who can be more helpful and understanding. Don't give up.

  4. So sorry sweetie. For so many reasons I have no respect whatsoever for that particular practice. Have you thought of talking to Clare? I think you should, she will know how to get you the help that you deserve.

    Hugs and kisses. No one should ever treat you, Florence or Ernest with such disrespect.If there is anything I can do to help please tell me.

  5. complain, complain complain send the letter ......I so hope you get the respect you deserve from your gp.....and well done for facing your emotions, so sorry you have been let down xxxx

  6. that sucks

    big time

    I am so sorry that you were put in such a godawful position and so angry on your behalf that you were slapped in the face when you were already vulnerable. It is hard enough as a parent to walk around with your heart exposed without that heart being a broken one.

    I hope that there will be other ways to help you heal that will be accepting of you as a whole person, mother as well as woman.


  7. I am so sorry that you are facing this ... gentle hugs and strength coming to you from across the Ocean.

    ((())) Stay strong.

  8. That's awful ... I'm not surprised you're angry. I hope you can get something better sorted out.

  9. I'm so sad and angry for you about the treatment you received. !! I'm in a bit of the same spot myself right now ... I have four and my youngest is 10 months and he's in that terrible clingy phase right now. I've been feeling off for a long time and things have not improved. One of the things that's held me back from asking for help is the thought of trying to arrange the appointments without help (my family are all far away and I don't have the kind of friend network here that is of any use and I also have a three year old) the thought of sorting out how to free myself up exhausts me -- when I'm already having trouble feeling overwhelmed and exhuasted and funked out.

    I think if someone treated me like a naughty child and was confrontational and sent me away ... when just getting there in the first place had been a major accomplishment ... I'd be furious and beyond disgusted. I don't know what kind of gimp therapist lacks so much empathy that she'd treat you that way, but I'm pretty sure you are better off without her.

    Often times when primary docs refer, they don't always know the doctor personally. Unless I'm misunderstanding, maybe let the original doc know how this counsellor behaved ... at least to save him from referring others blindly to her. And wouldn't he be able to refer you to someone else? "Fit" with a counsellor (or any other HCP) can be a big deal ... it's so hard, but sometimes you have to shop around? This is another obstacle in my mind ... the thought of having to shop around and audition people before I can even get started. I am so, so sorry. Lots of virtual hugs for you.

  10. What a horrible situation. I HAD to take DD2 everywhere with me - and I didn't care what others thought. I know first hand how hard it is to make that first step, and how much you need the professionals on your side in order to help. TBH, it sounds like the counsellor isn't right for you. Is there another one that you could see? Is there a different dr that you trust? Remember, it's all confidential. Also, how would you feel about meds? It took a LOT of courage to take mine, but they've transformed my life, my marriage and my relationship with my girls.

    In a nutshell, yes, the sessions are about you, but you (the person) are not just an individual, but a mother who needs some help. ((((())))) (sorry, haven't put that very well - hope you get the gist).

  11. Hello Jeanette, I am shocked by your treatment from this person(s). I hope you don't mind me being a bit blunt here, but you would have thought it may have occurred to them that a person receiving help to cope with the death of a baby, may well find it difficult to leave their subsequent baby in some else's care. I expect they haven't gone any further in thought than a standard policy of no children allowed.
    My first instinct was to think I wish I was a real time friend who could help you out, but then I thought, that's not really the issue here. Since the little guy wouldn't be racing around the room touching, climbing or causing a disruption I think you should be able to bring him with you, sitter or not.
    I hope you get a satisfactory response from your letter, but if my dealings with the NHS are anything to go by, I wouldn't hold your breath.
    Sending you hugs

  12. OMG. How shitty. I feel it warrants swearing. It is truly amazing how insensitive the NHS can be to mothers both before and after birth. In fact the world in general. Ok.. so it's completely not the same but I got a speeding ticket when Tobias was 2 months old ish (no brain.. no surprise) and had to attend a speeding workshop or get 3 points. You couldn't reschedule and you could only have a 10 min break in the middle. Tobias was barely on solids and so I had to take my Mum to look after him outside in the lobby while I was in the workshop and then had to try and feed him in the meeting because 10 mins just isn't enough to go to the loo (I was on too) and BF a baby. If I was late back in I would get thrown out and get 3 points. The receptionist said Tobias was making too much noise (gurgling) and the man doing the session was really pissy about me trying to feed T while the class was on and then shouted at me to tell me I was sitting in his chair when I tried to feed T sitting down.. which woke him up. I SO wanted to cry. I had a choice whether to go or not... but I would have had 3 points on my license had I not. Only 1 person was helpful. It's like the world expects us to separate from our babies the moment they get beyond being teeny. REALLY p's me off. REALLY.
    I do hope the doc comes back to you with huge apologies. And I am so sorry it happened to you. and PS ... I've had nurses to help hold baby while I had a smear. (reminds me I'm behind on this one) But again.. it seems once baby gets beyond teeny.. people stop being so helpful. xxxx

  13. Simply horrified by this! It just doesn't make any sense. I have taken Angus to several of my counselling sessions and my counsellor always loves it when he comes. If I don't bring him, the first thing she says is "where's Angus?"
    Like you, I have no one to leave Angus with, and wouldn't anyway. He stays with his dad and my mum has watched him a few times, and he adores her and vice versa obviously, so I feel good about this. But for the most part, he's with me. He's 16 months now and has only just weaned (sniff, sniff - not my doing, all his) so we can have more time apart now I guess, but I still don't like it.
    I am so sorry you're having to deal with this crap on top of all of your unrelenting grief for Florence. This is not right.

  14. My counsellor was incredibly confrontational too and at one point when I referred to my miscarriages as "My children died" she sneered "well, thats how YOU see it" and I never went back. How you were treated is appalling. XXX

  15. It's ridiculous - rules, rules, rules, that's all this country works by. If people were able to see through the rules and have some compassion for individual cases, what a more beautiful world we'd live in.

    Jeanette, I sincerely hope you get a decent and helpful reply to your letter, although the cynic in me doubts it.

    Hugs darling, you cope with so much xxxxxx

  16. That's awful and doesn't make any sense at all. I've always taken Max to my counselling and pysc appointments - I think they would have been more surprised if I had arrived alone.

    Hope you can find someone more helpful.

    Maddie x

  17. I agree with many of the previous comments. As 'talking to Hattie' has said, you would think it might have crossed their mind(s) that you might find leaving Ernest difficult! For heaven's sake.

    I know it must have been difficult to ask for help and I am so sorry that you ended up in this situation. Every single professional person I have spoken to about G's death has accommodated her twin sister, both respecting my need for her presence and also the fact that I was not happy to ask someone else to take responsibility for her dodgy breathing and oxygen requirements. It has never, ever been raised as a problem and I'm simply gob-smacked by this counsellor's attitude.

    I don't see how it could be 'inadvisable' to have such a young baby with you and why wait to tell you this until you were actually there, at the surgery? What gives?! You have every right to be angry and upset and I'm so very sorry that you've had this awful experience. xo

  18. Jeanette, that is terrible and horrible for you. I am so sorry you have received such shoddy and careless teratment after you were so brave in reaching out for help. It sounds like you got matched with the wrong counsellor, totally. Would you consider asking to see somebody else? Fwiw, I had to take Ayla with me now and then when I was having counselling last year and it was never questioned. I just took her. I had no choice. The lovely therapist was lovely with her. As she should have been. Sounds like you got a right silly moo, who shouldn't be in the job she is in if she's so insensitive to people's feelings. What an idiot, calling you all the way there just to send you away again. Grrrr I am so wound up for you, what a horrible woman. I hope you feel strong enough to put in a serious complaint about her. Sending love and hugs, hoping you are brave enough to complain and then try again, for you, and Ernest, and Florence XXX

  19. I'm so sorry. Gods, I just want to swear. FFS.

    Argh :(

    Jeanette :( ((()))

  20. Just had to comment--I'm sorry this person treated you this way, but hopefully you can find someone else better suited for your needs. Obviously this person would have never worked if they can't understand how important it was for you to have your baby with you at the appointments. Other problems probably would have followed since from the beginning she did not see eye-to-eye with you.

  21. Treatment like that is unacceptable and I hope you letter finds its way to the people who can do something about it. You are so brave to have asked for help and to be treated like that is just pouring salt on you wounds. I hope you can find the courage to try again and find a counselor who can help you.

  22. Good

    I am so lifted to see mothers stand up for themselves in this minefield that is life after the death of a child. I have so much admiration and respect for you, and i hope that you will continue to find the strength to seek out the hope that you desire. I wish I could help but I am glad to be here to listen.

  23. Oh bloody hell. Jeanette, I'm so sorry you had to deal with this, just at the moment when you'd summoned up the strength to ask for help.

    I think your letter is well-worded - I hope you get a decent response from your GP. It maybe worth doing more sniffing around to find a counsellor who specialises in grief counselling. Maybe your local SANDS association might have recommendations?

    Please don't give up on counselling because of this - I know that I had a disappointing experience with my first counsellor after Z died, but have now found someone amazing who has really helped. Sending love xxxh

  24. Good for you writing this letter Jeanette. How can it be that a babe in arms can't go where his mother goes? Madness!!

  25. That's really rubbish, I can't believe someone in that kind of job can be so insensitive :( I hope a bad thing turns into a good one, and this means you end up with a much better counsellor (and a grovelly apology from both her and the doctor).

  26. Jeanette,
    I am so angry on your behalf.That counsellor needs to go and update her basic skills, her attitude is appalling.
    Please don't give up on finding another, it's just a pity it can take some shopping around to find a good one.
    And hopefully your letter will be taken seriously by your gp. I wonder if anyone has bothered to complain about this person before

  27. Jeanette, how totally rubbish. :-(. Good on you for writing the letter and I hope that when you're ready, you can find someone genuinely understanding and helpful. X

  28. (((hugs))) So sorry you had to deal with this person, you have every right to be angry and upset.

    I hope you get an apology for the rubbish treatment and someone more helpful.


  29. So frustrating and completely unacceptable. I'm sorry Jeanette and I hope your GP takes this seriously. It might be worth getting in touch with the practice manager too.

  30. I'm so sorry you've been treated like this. I suggest you contact your local PALS service. I hear that problems are sometimes almost miraculously resolved once they are involved. It may get you access to a more sympathetic NHS counsellor. Otherwise as has been previously suggested there are other sources of counselling, Cruise is another one that springs to mind.

    All of that sounds formal and stuffy but my immediate reaction is to want to give you the most enormous hug. I hope your gp's response is positive.

  31. Jeanette,

    That is so awful. What a dreadful woman - with an alarming lack of empathy for a counsellor. I hope your letter is taken notice of.

    Our counsellor was an NHS bereavement midwife who organisd her own caseloading. We didn't need a referral, we contacted her independently (her details were in the pamphlet the hospital provided after Emma died) and arranged all our own appointments. Come to think of it, I don't even think there'll be any reference to my counselling in my medical records. Do you have someone like that attached to one of the local hospitals? She was fabulous because she was a midwife and she was a counsellor and she worked specifically in the area of pregnancy and neo-natal loss.

    I hope you are able to summon up the desire to look again because I know that the counselling made a huge and helpful difference to me.

  32. Please don't give up on counselling, it seems you've had a shocking experience that you shouldn't have had to go through. It's hard to share at the best of time and this must be the hardest of emotions to share with anyone, to trust them with something so precious. I hope that you find someone you can work with to help you because you are obviously a devoted loving mama who needs a bit of support right now. Keep Florence and all your babies in your heart x

  33. Good for you complaining and quite right too.

    I have been following your blog for years now and never commented (sorry). Your story is truly heartbreaking and your strength to share your story is admirable.

    To open your heart to a counsellor (of all people) and then to be treated like that is shocking. You are quite right to write a letter - is there any way it can be taken further.

    Excluding under ones is really, really stupid. I had counselling for a while and faced the same dilemma. The stress of organising childcare for a baby who was rarely out of my arms, let alone my sight, was huge. It meant the counselling sessions I did have I was distracted worried about if my baby was okay. I soon stopped going as it was too much. Counsellors really need to understand that for some mothers there is no alternative but to bring the baby if the session is to be any good at all.

    Huge hugs to you.

  34. Oh mama. Sorry to hear about this. You deserve better from all concerned. Yes, counselling is about you - and for you that obviously means being *with* your baby. That's what should count, not what normally happens, or what other people do. Rules are meant to be broken.

    Like some of the others, I wish I could help. I cant offer anything practical except moral support. Don't give up on getting help though - is there anyone else you can turn to (health visitor, SANDS, local NCT) for a recommendation or referral to a suitably mama-centred counsellor?

  35. Grrr and huge hugs at having to deal with this situation. xxx

  36. I'm sorry you were met this way by this councelor. I would also get equally p*d off if I had to go through all that trouble to get there, just to get the message in person.

    But, what I don't understand is why you're "punishing" your GP by canceling your follow up appointment with him. It's not his fault that the woman was horrible. Maybe there are other counselors who are willing to have a baby there? Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater (sorry for the bad analogy), there are plenty of good councelors and it sounds to me that you might need someone to talk to?

  37. yeah, sadly, I'm not surprised. Honestly, those councillor's need more help than us.
    My feeling is that an kinesiologist would help better, and they would also do a healing on little Ernest. Ask around, because you want a good one.
    It's amazing how different you feel even after one session.

  38. Jeanette, the treatment you received is awful. Absolutely awful. I'm so sorry you had to go through that and I hope you get an apology and an offer for treatment that will actually be helpful instead of hurtful. Thinking of you. xx

  39. Awful people, I hate them so mightily for you I cant even being to say how much. Loving you and Florence and Ernest so very much.


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