The Happy Me Project meets @dear_orla

Meet Michelle @dear_orla

I think it’s fair to say this year has been ground breaking when it comes to raising awareness about baby loss, particularly through the platform that is Instagram. With the likes of Elle @feathering_the_empty_nest featured just last week and this wonderful lady gracing our feeds, we are seeing other women begin to find peace in being able to tell their story openly alongside finding comfort in a community of incredibly brave and inspiring mothers. Michelle experienced baby loss when her daughter Orla was still born at 37 weeks, and has since has a little girl called Esme. She writes about baby loss, parenting after loss, mental health and all that life throws at you along the way. She is honest, gracious and open; something that I admire so much with all she’s been through. As if that wasn’t inspiring enough, Michelle recently created a ‘Warrior’ pin;  a badge for all women who wear their struggles like armour and did it all to raise money for charity. I think there are so many incredible women on Instagram, it’s easy to forget JUST how incredible they truly are, so it feels good to take a moment to just take that in and it is my absolute pleasure to have such a wonderful soul writing for me on the blog today.


This is her happy….


Life In A Snapshot

Trained for nine years to become a Clinical Psychologist.  Had a few years of enjoying London life before starting a family.  Realised it wasn’t going to be as straightforward as I had hoped.  First daughter Orla born silent and still at 37 weeks and my world fell apart.  Discovered support and hope through blogging and finding an incredible community of loss mums.  Overwhelmed that we were lucky enough to get our take home baby.  Hit with PND.  Working towards finding my new happy place.

What makes you the happiest?

Hearing Esme laugh – it’s like a drug and I am constantly chasing the next one…  Also, thinking of the legacy that we have created for Orla.  That is something I am incredibly proud of.

Who is your happy person?  

I like to surround myself with people who make me happy for all sorts of different reasons; people that make me laugh, those that show deep compassion; those who stimulate my mind and challenge my opinions.  I feel incredibly lucky that I have many wonderful and diverse people in my life.

How do you reset on a bad day? 

I actually think this is a skill that I am having to refine and tweak now that I am a mum.  Before, a bad day would most often have been work related, so having a good moan with someone would have sufficed.  Now, a bad day can (at the moment) feel overwhelming: PND exacerbated mum guilt is intense.  So what works right now is talking to my husband, having a good old cry, going for a run or switching off with a boxset.  This is something that is work in progress though.

When it is time to stop and take check?

When I start procrastinating and can’t focus on one task.  When the inboxes overflow and the ‘to do’ lists have ‘to do’ lists.  When my internal critic is at full volume.  That’s when I know that I am overwhelmed and need to reset.

How do you nourish your mind and body?

What does ‘nourishment’ mean to you?

I nourish my mind with reading (books, articles, news reports), listening to podcasts and discussing them with others.  I like to hear other people’s opinions.  I try to nourish my body by eating a balanced diet and keeping active, even if that is just walking.

In an ideal world, I would do more yoga, which nourishes both mind and body, but I am struggling to find the time to practice right now.  I am not very good at prioritising myself at the moment – again, this is work in progress.

Reflecting on the hardest time in your own life, what practical steps did you take to get you back on a happier pathway?    

If you had asked me this a few months ago, I would have reeled off a whole host of practical steps, all based on psychological theory, that I believed had helped me move towards happiness in the aftermath of Orla’s death.  In reality, they were just steps to survival and I was about to crumble when the cracks in my armour grew big enough.  So, I think on reflection, the thing that has helped me to gain hope for the prospect of happiness was realising that I needed to feel my emotions – really feel them.  And that I needed help to do this; that I couldn’t, and didn’t have to, do it alone.  Allowing someone in to hold my emotions and listen to my innermost fears has been the turning point for me.  And although I have days where I still really struggle, I am starting to believe that joy is possible – and that I am indeed worthy of it.

What is ‘happiness’ defined by you? 

For me, I believe happiness to be the ability to experience and tolerate the whole complex range of emotions, knowing that joy and happiness is just one part of what it is to be human.  All feelings and emotional states are transient.  I feel that if I strive to find happiness all the time, I am likely to be disappointed.  So happiness is contentment with the messiness of being vulnerable to all the feels!

Mantra you live by 

‘This too shall pass’: that a difficult day is just that – a day.  And hopefully tomorrow will be a little lighter and easier to navigate.


Favourite place in the world

Uganda. Seeing the mountain gorillas was out of this world.

Instagrammer who makes you feel good 

So many to choose from…. some of my favourites who inspire me, motivate me, challenge my thinking and make me chuckle are @selfishmother @survivingmotherhood_ @candicebrathwaite @natashabailie @toomuchmotheringinformation @celestebarber

If you could have any super power?

The ability to get ready for bed with the click of a finger.  Or the ability to make babies nap / sleep through the night….I would be a millionaire!

Biggest addiction? 

Sugar – the struggle to cut down is REAL.

Biggest strength? 

Listening.  Probably a good thing seeing as that’s my job!

Biggest weakness? 

Extreme self criticism and doubt.


Nothing of interest – all variations of my maiden name!

Guilty pleasure? 

Reality TV – TOWIE, MIC, KUWTK….I literally cannot get enough…..

Go to tune? 

Shola Ama – Imagine.  I believe that there is very little in this world that old school garage can’t fix!

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