After having an emergency caesarean section in July 2021, Josie found herself in a Bristol hospital feeling “pretty rotten”. Originally from Bedfordshire, she had moved to the area for her job in the civil service and didn’t have family living nearby. While lying in the hospital bed, she remembers overhearing someone speaking Welsh next to her. “Sarah was having a long video call,” she says. “I loved her accent and thought it sounded as if she was having a really good time talking to her family.”

The next day, Josie’s baby was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (Nicu) for monitoring. “She’d gone all floppy,” says Josie. “I didn’t know what was wrong with her and I was on my own because of restricted visiting times due to Covid.”

Hearing how upset she was, Sarah checked on her from the neighbouring bay. “I remember asking if she was OK and if she needed anything.” Within a few hours, Josie’s daughter was back in her arms and “totally fine” – but she was grateful to Sarah for her kind words during the scare.

“I’d been in hospital for two weeks with severe pre-eclampsia [a high blood pressure condition that can occur during pregnancy] and was feeling vulnerable, too,” says Sarah, a theatre director who was also having her first baby. “A midwife came to open our curtains and it was a great way to start the conversation.”

Josie discovered that Sarah was originally from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, a village in Powys, which is why she spoke fluent Welsh. “We also realised we lived really close to each other in Bristol,” she says. Due to the length of her stay, Sarah had seen lots of women come and go, but “really warmed to Josie”. They swapped numbers before leaving the hospital and agreed to meet up when they were feeling better.

It was two months before they spoke. “We both had newborn babies and I had post-pregnancy complications from my C-section,” says Josie. “When we finally met up, it was a bit like a therapy session because neither of us had processed the trauma of the hospital experience.” They talked openly about their births and “everything else – in harrowing detail”.

Sarah and Josie – and their partners Steve (left) and Rory – in the countryside near Bristol last summer.

As they were going through the motherhood journey simultaneously, and their daughters shared a birthday, they started to meet up more often.

“I was really impressed by her creativity,” says Josie. “I also loved how passionate she is about the Welsh language and keeping it alive. My grandmother was Welsh and I felt a real connection there.” They went for long walks and play dates with their girls, but also went out on their own. “One of my first boozy nights out after having a baby was with Sarah. I love to dance – and she hit the dancefloor and didn’t come off it until we had to come home.” Since then, their partners have also become good friends and they often get together as a four.

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Josie also supported Sarah through her second pregnancy, when she was unwell with hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive nausea and vomiting). “In April 2023, I was overdue and was feeling quite stressed and anxious, especially after the first experience,” says Sarah. “Josie took me out for lunch. I was able to have a good rant and let out steam. She made me feel more positive and, at 5pm that day, I went into labour.” Her second birth ran smoothly and was “a completely different experience” to the first.

After the birth, Josie brought her friend soup and cottage pie. “She’s an incredible cook and shows her love through food,” says Sarah. “I love Josie’s kindness. She always knows what to say to make me feel better. She’s so curious about the world, too, which I find inspiring.”

Josie is equally inspired by Sarah. “I love creative writing but it’s been on the backburner. She encourages me to write – I’ve even written a poem about our friendship,” she says. “She always supports me without ever passing judgment.”

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