First time mum, living with a brain injury

Becki Felton sustained a serious brain injury after a near fatal accident, aged 14. Now 22 years old, she is a new mum to baby Oscar.

Becki and her family

Published: 22/01/2015

My story

I suffered a brain injury in 2006 on my way to school. I was crossing on a green man but sadly never made it across the road as a car hit me. Life changed forever.

Now? Well, yes there are some things I will never be able to do again due to the accident but I'm dealing with this. I've been with my boyfriend, James, for seven years, we've bought a house, just had a baby and life keeps getting better. It's the best feeling in the world being a mum.

Every day I live with the effects of my brain injury. Some of these may last forever. However, I hope my story will give faith to some other brain injury survivors that there can be a happy ending.

I've worked hard at rehabilitation and learnt ways of coping. I have strategies for managing everyday life and looking after my baby.

becki accident
Becki still has anxiety and nightmares following horrific accident

Becki’s anxiety

I never thought that after my accident I'd ever have a baby. I had depression, anxiety and hormonal problems. So to think I could carry a baby and give it everything it needed to become a human in this world didn't seem likely to me. It seemed too good to be true.

Oscar is a content little boy; he's hitting his milestones, he is growing well and I'm coping with all the changes motherhood brings. I am balancing fatigue and anxiety and all the other labours which come with a brain injury.

It's funny. For the first time in eight years I feel like there's some element of normality in my life.

I have amazing parents and James is my rock. He does his share of parenting and he's a fab dad. Not only is he my partner but he's one of the few friends I had before the accident who has stuck with me through it all and accepts me for who I am. Thank you mum, dad and James.

Below I have listed some elements I have struggled with and how I have had to adapt since Oscar was born.

Memory problems: recollection through photos

becki collage
Becki takes a photo each day to help her with her memory issues

I have short term memory loss; I will repeat myself in conversations and forget discussions. It's not uncommon for me to walk back to the house to make sure I've locked the door.

But I use memory strategies which help and I now recognise that I have a memory problem, which is a huge help.

I was so frightened that my memory issues would have an effect on me as a parent. So from Oscar's birth I have been taking photos of him every day. Each day of his life is on file. I can look back and remember any time.

Remembering to feed him is no problem. With breast feeding, my body tells me when it's time for baby's dinner.

And I make sure to keep a diary for all appointments and weigh-ins.

Chronic fatigue

Since my accident I get worn out doing physical things. I'd slowly learnt how to manage this and take regular breaks. But since Oscar came, I've had to readapt.

In some ways I feel my fatigue issues have improved since he came along. If I'm doing something for him, my body finds the energy. But I ensure that I sleep when he sleeps if I need to.

Depression and tackling my demons

Due to having been on anti-depressants for years, I thought I was almost guaranteed to have post-natal depression. So when Oscar was just a bump I started doing things to build a bond with him. I had a number of private 3D scans to get to know him.

After my c-section it was obviously hard to get up and pick him up, but I made sure I was always having cuddles and as soon as I able to stand up I was getting up and seeing him and picking him up. We also had bath time together for the first month.

Indeed, I still do get depressed but I don't let it affect my time with my little boy. I won't let him know or see mummy is depressed.

Tackling my demons of depression since the accident is harder than it sounds. It was life changing for me and I still have nightmares of it, my injuries and my difficult journey of recovery after.

School was difficult when I returned after rehabilitation. They didn't have the knowledge or training to help and support me. Pupils, and believe it or not some teachers, had some very nasty things to say about the changes in me. They didn't understand.

oscar outside
Becki sometimes feels nervous going outside alone with Oscar but is learning to overcome this

Oscar is my happy pill now, I still get emotional when I look at him.

Anxiety, the fear of being judged

I get anxious around others due to the fear of being judged and people laughing at me due to the physical difference in me. I was anxious of crossing the road for obvious reasons. I would keep myself indoors; I was frightened to go out. It took me a long time to overcome this.

This apprehension grew when I was pregnant. I felt more vulnerable with my bump and hated going out on my own. When he was born, an irrational fear would sometimes come over me that someone would take him away.

I sometimes worry that someone will find fault with me but my health case manager is very encouraging and supportive. And I have a support worker who attends certain things and this help build my confidence and beat the anxiety of doing things with Oscar on my own.

The future?

Just like many first-time parents I'm learning new things each day. Oscar can’t cure me, but all the issues that affect me in my life aren’t affecting him and his life. My little family are living the dream. I do come up against a few challenges along the way but there is life after brain injury!