Creative inspiration - Sam's reason for sewing to help PTSD

Creative inspiration - Sam's reason for sewing to help PTSD

Part of a series of creative inspiration stories from different people about creativity and how it has helped them, why it is important and how they hope it inspires others.

I always wanted to sew clothes. I wasn’t great at textiles in school, and never learnt how to use a machine properly. My husbands Nana Mary was incredibly creative - a very talented artist how was always very crafty, made clothes and crocheted. She taught me how to crochet and the basics of threading a sewing machine. My dear friend Becks also tried to help me master the basics but a lack of confidence stopped me exploring this further.

After many years of struggling with infertility, in 2016 we fell pregnant after IVF with our beautiful Rose.

I had a really difficult pregnancy and was hospitalised several times, I was also ordered to rest, do very little (including stopping my pregnancy yoga class) and not to be further than 10mins from the hospital at any one time. I was at risk of bleeding heavily, which was terrifying. I suffered with perinatal anxiety and received some wonderful support.

Unfortunately my worst nightmare happened at home and I did bleed heavily at 34 weeks, it was terrifying and I thought we would both die. I was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and Rose was delivered that day, rushed past me in an incubator without me holding her. I was in complete shock and that night, as I had after pains, I was convinced she was still in my tummy kicking. I also suffered with nightmares.

Rose spent two weeks in neonatal. Seeing her covered in wires and tubes in NICU was so frightening. When I entered to meet her I didn’t know which baby was mine. Holding her for the first time was overwhelming. My two cannulas tangled up in her heart monitor wires, feeding tube and other mysterious tubes and wires. We had to be untangled, but it was wonderful. She was beautiful and I finally had my longed for baby. Sadly after that, the midwives thought I had a bug and I was put on barrier care for 48 hours. I couldn’t see my baby. The emotional pain of being separated from her was complete agony. The joy when I could see her again at 5am in the morning was tremendous. I promised I would never leave her side.

I learnt how to change she smallest nappies I have ever seen, they taught me how to bathe her, we tube fed her then tried breastfeeding. She found this very difficult. I remember one day, sitting by her cot in the nursery area and I cried for almost an hour. I don’t know why, the tears just fell. The nurses were amazing, left me to it, they didn’t bother me or say anything.

After bringing our Rose home, who was fit and healthy despite being 4lbs 13 leaving hospital, it became very apparent I was suffering with PTSD. As part of my recovery I decided I needed to do something creative, I just wasn’t sure what.

Rose and I started to attend baby classes. People commented on her size at every baby group, I used to get nervous going , a lady even gasped at her at baby massage. She fitted in 3-6 months clothes at 1 yr old. I was fed up with pink baby clothes and bunnies. I wanted to make her clothes that were personal and fun. My friend Danielle inspired me, she made and sold the most beautiful children’s clothes. I had bought a few from her and so desperately wanted to learn how to make clothes for Rose. So I bought an overlocker on whim so I could sew stretchy fabrics.

I loved it, but I couldn’t thread it. Weeks of frustration, YouTube videos and some colourful language later - one night it just clicked. I made a pair of trousers. They weren’t great, appalling sewing and loads of mistakes, but I made something. After some practice I made her a small wardrobe of trousers, dungarees and pinafore dresses. I loved sewing and creating.

Learning a new skill, picking the fabric and making her what I wanted was so wonderful. I’d spend hours sewing in the evenings then got so excited about her wearing her new clothes. Rather than her being unique because of her size, she became unique for wearing unusual clothes that I made her, including a pair of She-Ra dungarees and a host of other 80s cartoon character fabrics.
Sewing made me feel in control when I had felt so out of control. It helped focus my mind and also to think about things, process them whilst using a creative outlet. Deciding on a piece, choosing the fabrics, sizing and making it myself was so satisfying. Seeing Rose wearing her mummy made clothes made me very happy.
In late 2019 we felt ready to have another baby, again through IVF we fell pregnant in December. My second pregnancy was equally as anxious, I sewed clothes throughout to help cope with my anxieties and lockdown. At 20 weeks it became obvious I had the same condition as last time and was ordered to rest. This was so frightening and upsetting and brought back some of my PTSD. I was told to rest and do very little again. I had a 3 year old to care for full time, as her nursery was shut during lockdown. This was hard and I found it difficult to walk, and to do anything physical.

So I got the machine back out, and in the evenings I sat and sewed. I made so many baby sets, in small sizes as I guessed, like Rose, our new baby would be premature. She was. Born almost a month early in July 2020. The experience of being in hospital contracting for days before she was born, with my husband only being able to visit an hour a day, is still something I am struggling to process. Caring for baby Isobel in hospital was very hard and being separated from Rose for two weeks was unbearable. I promised I’d never leave her again, but I had no choice.
Sewing has helped me so much, when I could do very little about the things going on around me, to focus and have a creative outlet that I controlled was such a comfort.

I'm so very lucky to have my children.
Here are links to simple sewing patterns, easy tutorials and places of support


Easy patterns and tutorials:

Support during and after pregnancy:
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