YOUNG mum Sammi Lamb has two beautiful children and simply buzzes with energy as she makes plans for her new career and her family’s future.

But less than two years ago, when during a routine scan she found out her unborn son had a club foot, it was a different story. The diagnosis marked the beginning of a long, traumatic journey into depression, one she suspects has deep roots going right back to the death of her father when she was just seven years old. Now, having emerged from those difficult times, she is keen to help and inspire others.

Sammi, 29, who lives in Redhouse, Swindon is mother to Poppy, aged three, and Barney, who is 17 months. She grew up in Bristol and studied child psychology at Bristol University before moving to Oxford, where she worked as a nanny, and later, in scientific research for Cancer Research UK at Oxford University.

It was in Oxford she met her fiancée, Jason Ludlow, and they had a baby girl, Poppy.

“I wanted to be a stay at home mum,” Sammi said. “I felt like that was where I was most needed.”

Everything went well for the family, until at five weeks of age, baby Poppy caught meningitis. It was a terrifying time for the new parents and for a time, they had to take a back seat as medical staff worked hard to make sure Poppy made a good recovery. And while Sammi found – like every new mum – that it was a huge change and hard work caring for a baby, the experience of illness made her more aware than usual of a baby’s vulnerability.

The couple moved to Swindon in 2014, and as Sammi did not yet have friends in Swindon, she became isolated with her child.

“We shut ourselves away from the world,” Sammi recalled. “It was just me and her.”

Just as Sammi finally started to step outside on her own again, when Poppy was 18 months old, with an evening delivery job, she discovered she was pregnant.

“It was a real shock. I realised I was going to lose any independence all over again,” she said. “Then at the 20-week scan, we found out the baby had talipes – what used to be called club foot.”

The diagnosis threw Sammi, and she worried about what it would be like to bond with a child who would be taken away from her so early in its life – again - for medical treatment. The weight of the past trauma of her daughter’s meningitis, started to take their toll.

“I started to really struggle with my emotions,” she said. “I just didn’t know how I was going to cope. We weren’t sure how he would be affected. Treatment would start at five days old, and the process would go on for four years.”

According to the NHS, the foot of a baby with talipes points down and inwards, with the soles of the feet facing backwards. It is not painful for babies, but it can become painful as they grow older, can causes difficulties walking if it is not treated.

It is relatively common, affecting around one baby in every thousand born in the UK and both feet are affected in around half of the children born with the condition.

After Barney’s birth, he had a plaster cast on his foot and every week for six months, Sammi had to take him to hospital to have the plaster reset. It was a difficult time for a mum who had just given birth and already had a toddler to look after.

“The week was determined by Tuesday mornings. I just focussed on getting through that time. With every Tuesday that passed, I knew I was one week closer to getting that time over – which I regret now. I was doing the best thing for him but at the same time you do not want to see your child go through anything like that. It was really tough.

“I worried I was not doing enough for Poppy, or for Barney, because he was in pain and crying. I felt I was failing in every part of what I was doing.

“There was no let up, and nothing in my life for me. My partner did what he could, but I felt an increasing lack of control. I wasn’t in control of anything.

“The health visitor kept a close eye on me, and came round most weeks to check up on me.

“I had ante-natal depression (depression before the birth) and that continued afterwards. I felt like my head was in a washing machine and I could not keep the ground still

“As much as I knew I should be doing something, but I couldn’t do it.”

As the depression and struggle continued, Sammi’s weight ballooned. She gained two and a half stone over her pre-pregnancy weight. Finally, it was a determination to tackle her weight that marked the beginning of her recovery from depression.

“I wanted to have control over something in my life. My friend said she had started a Slimming World group. It gave me something to hold on to. If I proved to myself I could lose weight, I would have confidence to do something else.

“Every week I got weighed, it was boosting my confidence.

“When you are in a rut, you think nothing will have an effect, but I could see the numbers were going down.”

Within a year, Sammi had lost three stone. Her depression also started to lift.

Now she is working as a Slimming World consultant and setting up three groups of her own in Rodbourne, at the Methodist church.

“I am me again. I have some independence, but I am also the mum I wanted to be.”

Barney is walking now and although he will need another operation, the prognosis for a complete recovery is good.

“By the time he starts school, he’ll look like every other kid,” she said.

“I always thought I was a resilient kind of person, a strong, confident person, and I never thought I would have depression.

“I lost my dad at a young age too – I was just seven. So I have had a lot of knock-backs.

“I used to wonder what was wrong with me, crying at three in the morning. But I was depressed. It was dark and lonely.”

“I thought I could manage, that I would never change, and that I could not have depression because I was not that person – but when that did not work, I thought, I need help.”

Read more about Sammi’s story on her blog at

For more information about Sammi’s groups, visit slimming