The (Not so) Well Made Mama’s
The motivation for writing this book and developing our resilience learning for Mother’s, was born out of meeting Megan who is now my lifelong friend and sister in arms.
We met at an NCT class in London when we were about 36 weeks pregnant. I remember Megan — sprightly, funny, charming. And I remember her husband Brian, who looked clammy and nervous to be there. We all looked a bit clammy to be fair, I mean what the hell were we all doing here? What had we gotten ourselves into??
We chatted a bit but it wasn’t until the breastfeeding class when our partners refused to go and sent us on our own, that we started to forge our lifelong bond. Our friend Sandy who was also abandoned by her husband that day, was also part of this sisterhood.
In short, we were nomads, expats, alone, and on the brink of a wicked adventure. One that we could not have gone on without each other’s love and support.
We met a lot and talked a lot about the world, what interested us and also, how unprepared we mentally felt we were, raising our first children. At the same time Megan, a psychologist, was doing her Masters and her final paper focused on the role of happiness in Motherhood. Always interested in positive psychology, this was certainly an appropriate time to be finishing her studies.
We were so interested in the themes and ideas she was working with. We talked a lot about Megan initiating her own Mama’s group which focused on mental preparation for Mothers/Parents in the our East London neighborhoods. We did get some preparation by way of the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) which prepared us for the physical changes and responsibilities of a Mother. The course also touched briefly on post natal depression or “baby blues” (which apparently should only last three days).
So yes, we got the fact that we were inherently built to facilitate the needs of a human life, but, in our case, there was an obvious disconnect between what the body knew to do and what the mind thought it needed to be doing. Once the baby arrived, what were we supposed to do with our thoughts, our fears, our frustrations, and all that new emotion? Megan?!
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 Midwestern 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 the restroom of a flight from London to Doha..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 onto whom the contents of my pharmacy bag and pregnancy test had spilled 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 cozy and stay. And stay she did. And nine months later, on a freezing November 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 hypno-birthing book. I was ready for my Baby Moon. I had the carseat and stroller all ready to go. And I enrolled in the parenting (NCT) 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 realize 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 over the unknown, of feeling so newly vulnerable, of feeling so newly out of control. My training 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. Because without you, Mama, the show can’t go on. You are our hero..and the content of Well Made Mama was made for you with love.