Today I am grateful for observing expectant and new mothers.
This morning, I helped out my friend Angela, owner of Wooly Kids, at the Baby Show. As soon as the doors opened at 10:00am, women with baby bumps and/or strollers with babes flooded in eager to find the perfect solution to their newborn needs.
I saw pregnant women with their moms, their other pregnant friends, or their significant others. Sometimes it was all of them together stopping at booths and consulting each other on the multitudes of baby blankets and whether or not to bank their baby’s stem cells.
As these women, who were mostly expecting their first child, came to the booth to look at Angela’s beautiful products, I was stunned at how little they knew about what came after they gave birth. Some didn’t know what a nursing pad was and why you would need them. In fact, two pregnant friends gasped as I recounted the tale of soaking my shirt after forgetting to wear nursing pads one day as I was out without the baby. I heard a baby cry in the distance and that was it. I was overflowing.
I was surprised at how many people didn’t know the benefits of wearing wool and how amazing it is for babies in particular. To several people I lamented the fact that I never did discover organic merino wool nursing pads with my first or with any of my subsequent children. I might have avoided my bouts with mastitis and had a better chance of soothing cracked nipples.
I watched couples wander in confusion at all the choices, opting to pick up an over-priced, largely decorative riding toy as their big purchase of the day. I thought to myself, If only they would give me the money they just spent, I would go around and buy the essentials – a car seat, a good wrap, wool nursing pads, cotton sleepers, and woolies for layering. But I understand that this is something that they will learn. I can’t tell these things because they won’t hear it. If only I could tell them to talk to other mamas and grandmamas about what comes next; what comes after the baby is born, what comes in the next year, the next 5, the next 15…that is where the real preparation lies.
This was my first time at a baby show. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t know about these shows. Maybe they weren’t around back then. I relied on the kindness of strangers, family, and friends for a used car seat, a used stroller, a used carrier, and used clothing. We received new items at a couple of baby showers including a swing. At the end of the day, I only used the carrier, the car seat, and the swing on occasion when I had to study for my distance courses.
What I yearned for was community. I yearned for someone to tell me why my tears were unlike any I had cried before – the bittersweet joy and terror of being a mother. I wanted someone to tell me that it was ok to sleep with my baby, wear my baby, and nurse my baby on demand. I instinctively did those things but I also would have liked to know that I wasn’t crazy for trusting myself, for not being phased when the doctor said there might be cause for concern because my baby was consistently underweight (she is now taller than me and can press a 10kg kettlebell over her head). Did other moms feel this instinctual pull to do certain things? I felt everyone knew better than I did because no one talked about their own experiences of motherhood.
What if the baby show was a large community baby shower where mamas of every age and every walk of life each took on a group of new and expectant mamas to mentor? What if it was a day of celebration of motherhood, a rite of passage? What if each mama brought with them a gift of one of the most important items that they used as a new mother themselves as a gift to the new mamas? What if we talked about leaking breasts, sleepless nights, congested babies, acid reflux babies, relationship strains, and those tears that no one told me about?
I am grateful for the expectant mothers and new mothers. It was one of the most hopeful times of my life. I send them peace and healing and comfort. I want to tell them to TRUST THEMSELVES. I want them to know that it’s all ok. Feel it all. Be in it. Be gentle with yourself. And above all, ask for help. You are part of a club now – “strangers speaking in an unknown tongue, invoking the names of unfamiliar goddesses.”
42 days of gratitude…giving thanks to it ALL.