Today I want to talk about something that has sat heavily with me lately. Several subjects have been on my mind but this one was on my mind a lot today! When the studio was nothing more than some ideas on a sheet of paper, we discussed what we wanted to call this idea. We chose the name Mother Rising for several reasons, but mainly we wanted it to be an uplifting space for women to gather and we wanted the name to represent ALL women not just those who were expecting. You see, women, no matter what age need to be supported. We need each other, and here is why-
I became a mother a pretty young age. Most of my peers were not having children yet, which made it hard to find “mom friends.” The women I felt most supported by during my pregnancy were my mother, grandmother, a few neighbor ladies, and a childbirth educator (whom by the way, was the first one to introduce me to the word Doula!) I can remember dropping my daughter off at daycare surrounded by older mothers and never was a conversation had between us. I can also remember later on standing at my daughter’s ballet classes surrounded by chatty mothers planning their next get together and bringing each other coffees while they waited. I didn’t fit in. At this point I was neither young nor older. Perhaps I feared judgment and perhaps they did as well. As my children got older I started making friends with other parents, but was always looking for the moms that seemed to be the same age as me. One day, I sat next to a woman at my son’s football game. She was older than me and well dressed. I don’t remember what I was wearing but considering my five children and crazy work hours I can only imagine I was quite disheveled! We talked briefly about our children out on the football field before I found out that she was a Psychologist. I immediately felt intimidated. I really liked her but wondered how could we be friends? We have nothing in common. Part of me still felt like I was that young girl with a baby in her arms even though I am surely not anymore! How silly of me to assume that we had no common ground. We are both mothers and we are both women! We have a lot in common! after many discussions we realized that we have many similar interests and passions. A beautiful friendship had blossomed between her and I and we have even joked about our age difference with her believing that I could be her daughter!
See, we need each other. Mothers need each other. Women need each other. We are a village working to raise not only children but mothers! I have had the opportunity to chat with a few women recently whose children were grown. Some told me that they were not having babies anymore so they wouldn’t be any help or need our services but that couldn’t be further from the truth. As a young mother I could have used an older mother’s guidance and I could have used a friend regardless of their age. I have also noticed that many women, even those who are grandmothers enjoy sharing their stories of becoming a mother and obstacles they overcame. Some didn't realize the trauma that they had experienced until they were able to be open and have their feelings validated. I’ve also had my share of clients who were starting their families later in life, many not by choice. They too at a place of in between much like I was. They are surrounded by younger mothers at their birth classes while the women their age are heading to PTO meetings. We cannot and should not assume that because a women is a different age that we cannot connect with her, that we cannot find comfort or learn from one another.
I hope that this post will encourage you to reach out to each other. When you see that mama at the dance class who is either younger or older than you, talk to her. Build relationships that are wholesome based off of womanhood and parenthood. Your age does not matter. Your education level does not matter. Your marital status does not matter. You are both women and you have so much to offer one another!
We welcome you to come to our Women's Circles, Birth Story Circles and Young Parents Circles. Come support one another and make friends in the process. Check our calendar for dates and times.
Danielle Breach CD(DONA)
Co-Founder of Mother Rising Women's Studio
The first time I ever had to take one of my children to the dentist for a cavity I was kind of freaking out. As she sat there I used all of my Doula skills to keep her (and myself) calm and distracted. Just before the dentist put the needle into her gums she said to my daughter "I'm going to use this to make your gums really really cold, let me know if it's too cold." She proceeded to give her the shot, and to my surprise my daughter didn't even wince! When the dentist pulled the needle out of my daughter's mouth she looked at the dentist and said "Boy that WAS really cold!" She wasn't afraid, no one told her to be.
Uhhhhm.....What in the world does this have to do with birth?!
When I say the word “birth” what's one word that comes to mind? I start all of my childbirth education classes by asking that question. As you can imagine, most of the answers are negative.
This is not to say that I don't get some answers that put birth in a positive light.
In general women don't look forward to their labor and delivery they just look forward to the baby. A lot of women are downright terrified! I've even heard "I wish I could just be knocked out like in the 50s and wake up to my baby lying next to me."
Why are we so afraid? We say things like "It can't be that bad, women have been doing it for thousands of years!" Yet we're still scared. It's our birth culture. It's the way we talk about birth. It's the way birth is portrayed in the media and talked about among women. Think about it...
Were you told scary stories during pregnancy by your friends and family? Women loooove to do this other women! In the words of Ina May Gaskin on the topic, it's just "bad manners".
Why does our culture do this to women?!
Why do women with easy, fast, simple, or beautiful births feel like they are bragging if they share their birth story?
Why do we shame a woman that says she wants a natural birth or a woman who says she enjoyed labor or is looking forward to her birth experience!?
So back to the dentist, what did that story have to do with birth? I wholeheartedly believe that if we didn't tell women horror stories going into birth that they could go into it with an open mind and an open heart. They could experience the sensations for themselves and call them what they would like. Much like the dentist referred to the needle as cold instead of as painful or pinching, maybe mothers would refer to childbirth as miraculous, beautiful, and exciting instead of painful. What if you weren't afraid of birth! What if no one told you to be?
You can make a change for yourself and for all women! Let's change our birth culture!
Seek out positive birth stories! Shut out the bad ones! Share your beautiful experiences without fear of making someone else "feel bad"!
We invite you to join us at Mother Rising for our birth story circle. Even if you don't have a birth story to share, please come and listen. Holding the space for women to tell birth stories is an important job.
We meet the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 PM.
Shauna Rich, BS, LCCE
Co-Founder of Mother Rising Women's Studio