Hello! My name is Kate @overatkates. I was absolutely honoured to have been asked by Gemma to answer some questions for her fabulous blog. I never really considered myself a strong person but after having my little boy in 2017 things didn't go quite as planned and since then I have been a very proud member of the Strong Girls Club and am inspired daily by every single other member out there!
What challenges have you faced in your life, recent or past, that you think have changed your view of your position in the world?
Just 3 days after my son was born he became very seriously ill with Group B Strep Meningitis.We had taken him into A&E as he seemed reluctant to feed and within just a few hours he was seizing and was rushed down to theatre to be placed in an induced coma. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. The days that followed feel like a blur, I have no idea how we managed to get through it. Frank fought with all that he had and after three very long weeks we were able to bring him home and felt like the luckiest people on the planet. But our journey wasn't over yet. Doctors explained to us that there was a chance Frank might have suffered brain damage as a result of the Meningitis, it was too early to say for sure so we simply had to wait and see how he progressed. The next few weeks and months were tough, we were dealing with the trauma of what had happened and at the same time wondering what lay ahead. By the time Frank was around 6 months old it became clear he had unfortunately suffered a brain injury. He is now about to turn 3 and has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy.
This experience and the new path that our life is now taking has changed me (and those close to me) in so many ways. I love being Frank's mum with every inch of my being. I'm not just his mum of course I have had to quickly learn to also be his carer, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, his nurse, his dietician, his advocate and more! But I love every single one of my roles. I have more purpose now than ever before - to give my son the absolute best chance in life.
What did you think of yourself before that time, and how has your view changed?
I don't think I was a particularly positive person. I was always quite anxious, and sometimes guilty of being too afraid to be happy and content in the moment, always worrying that something would come along and disrupt things. It might sound strange to say that a toddler has taught me how to overcome these things but it's true. Watching how determined and resilient he is and continues to be puts my trivial worries into perspective. Every single moment with Frank feels like a gift. Yes we have had some difficult times - hospital stays, surgeries...but just being around Frank makes you feel brave.
What would you tell your younger self?
That everything is going to be ok. However scary things might seem, it will all work out - sometimes not necessarily as you imagined, but you will find your way and you will be happier than you ever thought possible.
What does ‘being strong’ mean to you?
To me, being strong means being honest with yourself and others about how you are feeling. For too long I put a brave face on things and didn't accept help when I really needed it. I felt strongest when I finally admitted to myself and confided in friends and family that I was finding things tough, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted.
What’s your one rule to live by?
My one rule is to #bemorefrank !
When are you at your happiest/ what brings you joy?
I am at my happiest at home watching Frank playing with his Daddy and worrying that one day he might just burst from laughing so hard!
Who is in your club? And why?
Every single person that has ever given me a hug when I needed it, provided a shoulder to cry on, made me laugh when I didn't feel like laughing, sent me a message just to check in or offer support, or been there for me in any other way. I say it a lot and I know it sounds a bit naff but honestly the support and love that my little Frank and us as his parents too, get on Instagram means the absolute world to us.
What does your club mean to you, what do they do for you/ how do they make you feel?
Knowing that so many people are rooting for Frank has got me through so many difficult moments. I do sometimes worry that I am a complete mum bore but then I see how much people really do seem to love him and hearing about all that he has achieved and continues to achieve.
What does being a part of the Strong Girls Club, as a whole, mean to you.
It means having the confidence to stand up for and fight for what you deserve because you know you have an army of Strong Girls behind you to help every step of the way!