What can you expect?
Well I got a whole lot more than I had anticipated when I managed to wangle 24 hours away from my loved ones this weekend. I set off to join the inspirational Molly Gunn, founder of the Selfish Mother blogzine and 24 other (non-pregnant) women who had let themselves off the 'leash' for a day at the spectacular Rathfinny Wine Estate.
I arrived, late, it was cool. Enjoying the treat of a small glass of fizz, I smiled, introduced myself and then listened. I was surrounded by mothers of all shapes and sizes, stay at home mums, journos, entrepreneurs, 9 - 5'ers. My fleeting worry about not having ordered my Tiba and Marl holdall in time evaporated and I sank into just being. Enjoying time with women who had committed to giving themselves permission to finish a conversation, to be cooked for, to turn our attention inwards as we moved our bodies to yoga and marveled at how deliciously soothing just focusing on the breath can be ....sanctuary.
No awkwardness, no networking, just talking and listening and silently congratulating each other for being there. I adored every moment of my long and luxurious afternoon, but it wasn't until after dinner that something truly magical happened for me. After our gorgeous evening meal we were treated to song sharing by the truly captivating Abimaro and her artist sister Lakwena. Even before Abi had stepped up to the family of guitars she had brought with her she had said something to me that had truly hit home. She had told me she was looking for connection over perfection from her performance that night. It resonated with me, because it's something that I reiterate to my clients frequently - perfection is a dream killer. And in the #Instagram world, of shiny, new and perfect, realness and authenticity stands out a mile. People don't care if you haven't dotted every I and crossed every T if they can feel your heart. I was excited to hear her sing.
Throughout the set, Abi's goal to connect over perfect hit every note, but more than that whilst most of us sat in quiet appreciation of the musicality the bond between all of us grew. After the sisters set had ended it was our turn to make the music. And it was during this time late into the night when I should have really been in bed that the magic for me happened. I got to listen more, hearing vulnerable, open, honest and heart wrenching stories of motherhood.
On my sofa alone, numerous women shared stories of mental health issues after having their children. Ranging from maternal OCD, PND through to health anxiety. Their experiences were shocking, heart wrenching, and inspiring. Inspiring from the perspective that despite their darkest days, when at times they genuinely felt like they were going mad, they were sat on the sofa next to me able to openly say, whilst I may have a great job, healthy kids and sit here looking 'fabulous darling' there was a point in my life when it was all I had just to put one foot in front of the other. But with supportive partners, family members, CBT, hypnotherapy, private healthcare each of them had come through the other side. This honesty and the surprise of the number of women sat so close to me, who had experienced these feelings, re-ignited something I have been sitting on for quite some time.
I am extremely fortunate to work with pregnant women the length and breadth of the world due to my company The Calm Birth School, helping women prepare for calm and positive birth experiences. Although, later this year I will be getting to work more closely with women once they become mothers at the moment, my job stops after baby arrives. But I know from the type of clients who find me, women who have experienced birth trauma and negative birth experiences, that so much more support on how birth and the transition to motherhood can impact a woman's relationship with her newborn, her partner, family and most crucially herself is vitally needed.
During a time when women are told this should be one of the happiest of her life, the shame, guilt and the fear surrounding not feeling happy, resentful, depressed, lost and/or alone can isolate women when they are most at need of help and support. And so the flame of hearing these stories stoked, was my idea to create The Calm Birth School Book of Hope. A beautiful coffee table book full of curated stories, artwork, poetry, affirmations contributed by women from across the world. Who want to share their stories of hope and inspiration, to be the light when the world feels dark.
And I would like the 100% of the profits of the book to be split between two amazing charities: Women and Children First who save the lives of women and children in Africa and Asia during pregnancy and childbirth. And closer to home the other charity is the PANDAS Foundation who are doing amazing work to support women and families living with mental health issues triggered through pregnancy, birth and in the postnatal period.
In order to make this happen I need your help.
This is a shout for creative mothers from across the world who would love to share their stories of hope, triumph over adversity, poetry, photography, artwork. Anything that inspires hope. I also need people who would be prepared to help with the production side of creating the book and bringing it to market, which I would like to fund through a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign. So if you or you know anyone who can help me set up a campaign, in publishing, production or design who would love to help and make a positive difference to women from across the world. Now is the time to get involved. You can contact me on info at thecalmbirthschool dot com, to pledge time, energy, or expertise...I need it all. :)
This is about #womensupportingwomen are you in?
If you cannot contribute a share will go a long way to help spread the word.