Published on: 15/09/2020
Words by Carola Kolbeck
Leah Lewin is the founder of Only the Best Support, or short, OBS, because she is obsessed with creating a community for women, especially mothers, in a supportive and proactive environment.Leah’s story is as inspirational as it is heart-breaking, but her drive comes from obstacles put in her way and have made her even more resilient and determined to make a difference.
So, what’s the story and motivation behind Leah Lewin, power house and general all-round motivational and hardworking force of nature?
At only 17 years of age, Leah was told that she would never have children of her own, caused by a chronic condition called endometriosis.Endometriosis, according to the NHS website, is a “condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes” (NHS Website). Leah is suffering from the most severe form of it, which means she has had to be hospitalised many times. At one stage doctors advised that her organs had fused to her back, another time she was unable to walk as well as collapsed with severe pain. Most recently Leah got admitted to hospital twice with minor strokes in the space of 3 months.Apart from the physical pain and obstacles, Leah struggled mentally with her infertility diagnosis and knows too well the tribulations of being an army wife, spending most of her week alone as her husband is an Army Staff Sergeant, also having spent time in Afghanistan.Nevertheless, and against all odds, Leah fell pregnant over seven years ago after several rounds of fertility treatment.She defied her prognosis twice more, and is now a mother to three beautiful children, as well as stepmother to her husband’s oldest son.
No one would hold it against Leah if her sole mission was to concentrate on herself, her family and juggling four children with her career as a business consultant, as well as battling the ongoing flare ups of crippling endometriosis.But Leah is determined to make a difference and use her experiences to fuel a movement of change and help for new and other mothers. Leah has family both in Trinidad and the UK but knows what it’s like to be alone and overwhelmed with the demands of modern motherhood and running a business. “In other Caribbean countries, in Africa and in Indian tradition, there’s a village, the aunties, the friends, all of the women come together and support the woman and her child”, Leah notes, and points out that such a support system is severely lacking in our society. “I wanted to bring back the village, that's what we don't have anymore, that natural support system of women that feel and understand and have the skill set to be able to take care of you, maybe in the way a husband can't, or if she's a single woman.”Leah speaks from experience, having seen this kind of support growing up but having lacked it somewhat in her own motherhood journey.Leah suffered with depression before the birth of her third child and struggled to find herself again.To offer support and prevent other mothers from going through the same, Leah changed her business model, formerly a sole business support and consultancy, now containing not only an exceptional network of mothers that may also be in business, but also a community for all mothers, new and more seasoned.She heads up teams which will provide support in the form of groups, meetings and courses. In addition, her teams can visit parents and offer practical as well as emotional support wherever it is needed most.Whether that’s holding the baby so the mother can finally have a shower in peace, putting on loads of washing to take one household chore from her, or running some errands, Leah’s vision on the support network is broad and flexible, to serve the individual circumstances.For her, it’s about “All of those little things that we all have to juggle, but when it's constant all day every day it adds to the pressure and anxiety of being a mum, which we don't talk about.”
Breaking the taboo and stigma of silence around depression, anxiety and everyday struggles of the modern mother is Leah’s mission, as well as ensuring that no one must be scared to speak out.Corona has been tough on all of us, but Leah has been working hard behind the scenes to get groups and sessions set up ready for September.With the help of a small team, she has scoured the area for venues and enrolled trained individuals to run those activities.Those in Leah’s team know what it’s like to struggle and juggle motherhood and lots of other responsibilities.For Leah, that’s the key.“Those are the people who are really invested, because they know how it feels.” And those are the people that won’t stop to make a difference, and to change the way motherhood can look and feel in a modern society.
Carola is a freelance writer and copywriter.Her own blog, including ‘The Lockdown Diaries’ can be found on www.chameleoninhighheels.com.You can also follow her on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @chameleoninhighheels.