Postpartum Connection Mothers’ Support Circle.

 “It was then, for an unforgettable moment, that I felt a oneness with all other mothers who had ever given birth, and to mothers all over the world who were laboring and giving birth with me that night. For a fleeting moment, I saw all of us reaching deep inside for strength to break through the mental and physical limitations which we, as maidens, had assumed to exist.”

- Pam England, Birthing From Within

 

I felt that, too. Just before I gave birth to my first child, my daughter, I was pretty sure I could not do it. I had labored nearly 18 hours and had pushed for the last two but still she remained unborn. I had just been told that I would have a c-section if I did not “get the baby out within the next 30 minutes.” My doula gave me some much-needed guidance, and the next time I had a surge, I closed my eyes and there they were: the mothers. They were holding hands in a line that stretched beyond the horizon and curved around the earth. The one I was nearest was reaching her hand out to me across a chasm. It was a chasm I had to cross to become one of them. Her serene look said, You can do it. We did. So can you. And then I did. In two pushes, my daughter was born, and I became a mother.

That transcendent feeling of connection with other mothers did not last, I’m afraid. I honestly hadn’t realized what a complete and utter change of life becoming a mother would be. I think I believed that my life would be the same, only now I’d have an adorable baby, too – a picturesque little accessory, like the babies on TV. I don’t mean I lived under a rock. I knew people who were parents; I’d even babysat; I read books. But I think it’s something that must be experienced to be understood. Goodbye to carefree selfishness! Goodbye to being the master of my own time! Goodbye to the world of achievement and pay! Goodbye even to showers and square meals! Hello to gob-smacking love and devotion to a creature utterly dependent on me for survival! Oh, is that all?

Part of me, my social self, wanted to bungle along in private. I wanted to avoid judgment, which is what it felt like when well-meaning people gave me advice. I did not need instruction. Instruction does not go deep enough. I needed support with my transition into motherhood, the kind that comes from women who are going through it at the same time. My essential self called out for comrades, sisters-in-arms! To be side-by-side with other mothers, novices and old hands mixed together in easy companionship. But we were all holed up in our separate houses, and as none of us could manage a shower, we couldn’t meet at the park, let alone at one another’s neglected houses. Fortunately my best friend had given birth to her first child a few days before me, though on the East Coast. We talked on the phone every day and made our village of two. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

When my second child, my son, was born, my mom and her sister, my Aunt Jean, came to stay. I was much more relaxed this time and felt prepared. But on the fifth night after his birth, my milk still hadn’t come in and he still had not had his first bowel movement. He was looking so thin and dry and I was feeling scared and unsure. Well, that night Mom and Aunt Jean sat up with us. Hour after hour he nursed, looking for the milk, and hour after hour Mom and Aunt Jean talked to me. They told stories of their early days as mothers, of their mother, of my cousins when they became mothers. They laughed. They acted as if there were nowhere else they’d rather be. They were my village, and they helped me to feel profoundly okay, that everything was going to be all right. You can do it. We did. So can you. And it was. Around midnight my milk came in. My baby slurped it up, pooped, and then fell into a deeply satisfied sleep. We all did.

These experiences are the inspiration behind Postpartum Connection. Becoming a mother is a completely life-changing transition. There are many books and courses that prepare you for birth and which give advice on how to care for your baby. Postpartum Connection is a space where women can talk about what it means to be a mother. We’ll share stories and inspiration about the endurance and strength we never knew we had, about how we’re stretched and made more by this journey, and come clean about self-doubts and middle-of-the-night-is-this-normal insecurities. Surrounded by women whose looks and presence tell you: You can do it. We did. So can you, you’ll develop trust in yourself and in your baby and mother yourself and your child more confidently.

When and Where: On Facebook, at Postpartum Connection, any time. We also meet up twice per month. Here are the details:

- The 2nd Wednesday of the month we meet in Yokosuka at the Daiei Starbucks. In September, the second Monday is Labor Day, so we’ll meet on Wednesday, September 12, 10 – 11:30. Park in the 12 hour lot on base and walk through the Daiei Gate. Or park in the Daiei for 90 minutes free with validation.

- The 4th Wednesday of the month we meet at Ikego Navy Family Housing, at my house. Our next meeting is Wednesday, August 29, 10 – 11:30. RSVP for address. If you’re not a US military ID card-holder, I will joyfully escort you to my house from Jimmuji Station.

Who:  You and your baby! This group is to welcome new moms into the sisterhood and for veteran moms, too. If anything about this group appeals to you, please come! Bring a friend, too.

Who am I and why am I doing this when my own children are already in school:  I’m a mother of two, a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator, sometime labor companion, Martha Beck Certified Life Coach, and I love mothers. I actually believe that motherhood is the great, unacknowledged hero’s journey that most women are on without realizing it. Motherhood is an amazing opportunity for personal growth and empowerment – of women and of the children we are raising. Too often this does not happen, and instead we see mothers receding into their children’s lives, feeling alone and lonely, and being judgmental and competitive. There’s a better way, and it starts with connection!

Two members of my loony village.

 

 

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