In 2010, I was excited to learn about the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and their Fellowship program, which provides opportunities for British and Commonwealth Citizens to go abroad "in search of new ideas, innovation and excellence". A lawyer friend had been successful in his application and travelled overseas to research a knowledge gap in his area. Knowing my passion to do the same in the perinatal world, he encouraged me to apply.
In my application, I described the vacuum of information and support that existed to assist couples in adjusting to life and love after the birth of their first child. I pointed out that existing programs focused primarily on preparation for birth and on the mother-child bond, but not on preparing for life in the postpartum period, include the fathers'/partners' experience of pregnancy, birth or early parenthood, or equip couples with the knowledge and skills to cope with a massive life transition so early in their relationship.
My hope was to travel to the U.S., Canada and UK to investigate relevant research, resources and early programs like Bringing Baby Home and Becoming Parents. Disappointingly, my application was unsuccessful.
So in I tried again in 2011.
And was unsuccessful, again.
I was disappointed for me, but even more for families. There's a big black hole that exists in the postpartum period and the thought of mothers and fathers continuing to disappear into it - and potentially suffer from perinatal mental health and relationship distress because of that was very disheartening for me.
Fast forward seven years...and last week I met up with U.K. Midwife Aki Bola in a Sydney cafe. Our meeting had been arranged at the recommendation of the wonderful Bronwyn Leigh, Director of the Centre for Perinatal Psychology in Melbourne and co-developer of the Towards Parenthood program.
Aki works for the NHS in London. She flew to Sydney as part of her Churchill Fellowship to interview me about my research, the Becoming Us model and to learn about the work our pioneering Becoming Us Facilitators are doing to fill the perinatal gap. I was honoured.
And then, as we talking, we discovered that the burrough where Aki works is the area in Greater London where my dad spent part of his early childhood. Aki offered to take a photo of his old home and send it to me...
Talk about full circle moments!
If you'd like to know more about our Becoming Us Professional Development Training, you can find it here.