Almost two years ago I was sitting in bed, texting with a friend who was just about to have her first baby. She wanted my advice on baby preparation and I was all too happy to help. I was expecting questions like, will I feel isolated? What should I do about coping with sleep deprivation? Can I call you when I’m needing a pick me up? Will I question my ability as a Mother? (I can go on…) She didn’t ask those questions. What she wanted advice on was what most likely a lot of us preoccupied ourselves with at the start: which brand of muslin cloth is the best? Should I invest in a good highchair? What toys will help me stimulate my baby?
Then I thought to myself, oh wow, she doesn’t know what’s coming. I want to save her! But then maybe I was being presumptuous - not everyone will find the transition from single person to Mother as hard as I did. And to be honest, the questions I pose now, would not have even played on my mind seven years ago when I was pregnant with my first Son.
I woke up the next morning thinking, although a percentage of Mothers will find adjusting to the changes of pregnancy and Motherhood relatively easy, there is a percentage of us that will be going through a tsunami of emotions and changes that we can’t quite articulate or won’t feel comfortable articulating. And the fact that these changes in our brain (quite literally) are not explored at a significant length in ante-natal classes is unfortunate. Yes, most of us know what Postnatal Depression is and what to look out for, but what about spending more time up front preparing your mind to increase your resilience throughout the ups and downs of Motherhood? How will you cope with stressful situations? What mechanisms will you employ when you are sleep deprived? Physically exhausted? What goals do you have in place for your individual growth? I would have much rather had that discussion than listening to my Ante-natal instructor tell me the benefits of the rebozo band as a way to cope with contractions! The birth itself is such a small fish to fry in the grand scheme of safeguarding and nurturing a HUMAN LIFE.
So that night I called Megan and told her what I was thinking, and the fireworks started going off in our minds….
About 8 years ago I decided I needed a little more adventure in my life. So I packed my bags. Put my place up for rent. And left my home for places unknown. When we finally landed, my husband and I found ourselves working and living in London, England. A perfectly excellent place from which to find adventure. Fast forward a few years. I was having a lot of fun, and working hard. And then I learned..somewhere over Paris in an aeroplane restroom..that I was having a baby. Two blue lines. Deep breath. Cool! :)
I sat back down in my seat, trying not to further embarrass the man on to whom the contents of my pharmacy bag and unopened pregnancy test package had spilt onto earlier, and began to write a letter to my unborn daughter. I knew nothing of Motherhood, but I knew in that instance that I had so much to tell her. I asked her in that letter to get cosy and stay. And stay she did. And nine months later, on a foggy night along the banks of the River Thames, she made her appearance. Now, this was an adventure.
The thing about adventures is that most of the time, people try to prepare for what they might run into. They might at least pack a sandwich or two. I was travelling light, but even I wasn’t bold enough to avoid what I thought were the necessary pre-baby preparations. I read the hypnobirthing book. I was ready for my Baby Moon. I had the car seat and stroller all ready to go. And I enrolled in the parenting class that everyone told me I had to do to learn the basics of baby-rearing. I was as prepared as I could have been.
In my parenting class, I met the best thing that ever happened to me during that time, in the form of two amazing, kindred spirits who were also about to have babies far from home, my life-long soul sisters Sabrina and Sandy. We shared lunch, puzzled over the mysteries of the new place we called home and forged a wicked friendship. I came home that day with no recollection of how to best position the child for breastfeeding, but totally over the moon that I had met these rock star ladies. Looking back, my brain was already telling me what I needed most!
Oh yeah..my brain. So as it turns out, the only thing I didn’t prepare for this adventure was my mind. I didn’t realise this until much later but suffice it to say, enough unnecessary suffering happened in my mind in that first year to make me wonder if a huge part - perhaps THE part - of our preparation for Motherhood had been overlooked. After all, It is in our minds that we become Mothers. And it is the one area of a Mother that there is almost complete Radio Silence on as she prepares for (most likely) the most monumental shift in her identity to date, and possibly ever in her life.
I noticed that my friends, when we talked, and the conversation moved beyond the baby-care troubles, were often grappling with real fears that spanned far beyond the advice in the baby manuals: Fears of the unknown, of feeling so newly vulnerable, of feeling so newly out of control. My background in the field of psychology probably biased me to noticing the emotional and thinking aspects of our struggles, and it definitely biased me to want to do something about it. My friends agreed and luckily Sabrina is someone who makes things happen. And so, Well Made Mama was born.
Well Made Mama is a collaboration of efforts focused on helping women learn about the transition to Motherhood that no one can see - the one that happens in their heads. And in the midst of so much expertise about what Mothers ‘ought’ to do - we wanted to shine a light on what they are already doing, and doing well. We hope you find a place here to settle in and learn about how to strengthen and support the wondrous, vital creature that is YOU. You are our hero..and the content of Well Made Mama was made for you with love.
Have you read the rest of Volume 1? Peruse the rest of the WMM Journal here.