Support

A season of thankfulness and giving.

Dear friends,

On this coming Tuesday (12/1) The Motherhood Collective will be taking part in the global#GivingTuesday initiative. We will have three amazing opportunities for you to give back to the organization and support our work in maternal health. We are excited to use this global day of giving to not only raise critical financial support, but to increase awareness surrounding three common issues we address. Be on the lookout for an upcoming email with additional details and social media notifications. :-)

During this Thanksgiving holiday, we would be remiss if we did not express our gratitude for a few of the many things we are thankful for in 2015.

1. Our volunteers. Our work simply could not be done without the commitment of our volunteer staff.

2. Our Board of Directors. Their insight guides the organization with with wisdom and heart.

3. Our program hosts. Mosaic and Wyndhurst Counseling Center have welcomed us and given us a home.

4. Our community cheerleaders. They sponsor our programs, reefer women in need, and champion for our cause.

5. The women we serve. Without your bravery and honesty we would never be where we are today.

Thank you to all.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends and supporters. Wherever this season finds you, you are not alone.

With love and THANKFULNESS,

Joziah's Story

Joziah's Story

"They wheeled us to the back of the delivery ward away from everyone else and 1 hour later, our quiet, beautiful baby boy came into the world. I don’t remember much due to the medicine, but I’ll never forget pushing. A beautiful nurse, Beth, took our baby and prayed over him and cleaned him. We eventually held him, but I don’t know how long after he was born that we did this. Time was not important anymore. Nothing was. In the following days, we held Joziah, cried over him, took pictures of him, questioned why over and over and made funeral arrangements. Leaving the hospital was the worst. It was a feeling of deep sorrow, failure, shame, guilt which all sat on my lap instead of a baby to go home."

We Are in This Together

"As women in this season of preconception through postpartum, we are united by a common thread. We need each other... Your stories remind us why we do the precious work we do. Your bravery inspires us. You are beautiful. We need you. "

education AND support

Motherhood25 (2)

What a beautiful week for us as a staff of The Motherhood Collective. On Saturday we welcomed you to the Café Express. On Monday we held both the Café and our PPMD Support Group. Wednesday brought our Grief Support Group. What a gift to have the opportunity to serve so many women in such different ways. If you are new to our programming this week, welcome. As an organization we long to advocate for a societal shift in maternal health. We feel the way we accomplish this best is through education AND support by connecting you to each other and to your communities.

Education empowers. Education expands our knowledge. Education, on it's own, can also overwhelm and leave us without tools for success. This is where we feel woman to woman support must come in.

It is within the framework of support that women discover variances of normal. It is through the safety of support that women find assurance that they are not alone.

Thank you. Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Thank you for allowing us to learn what it looks like to connect you to each other and to your communities. Again, welcome to our new faces. Please let us know if there's anything we can do to further your education and support from pre-conception through postpartum.

All my love,

PS - Do you follow us on instagram? Here is a peek at what we've been up to this week!

Bravery.

BLUFULLMotherhood_Headshots15

Last weekend our volunteer staff had the opportunity to spend an entire day together. We ate, played, and spent time digging into our own stories - in order that we might be able to better walk alongside you. There was a resounding theme that echoed through the day. We, as a culture, must seek to rid ourselves of assumptions. We must validate the unique stories of the women in our lives. We can walk alongside each other in pain and in joy.

Through education and support we strongly feel there is hope for a societal shift in maternal health.

We acknowledge that we all must become better listeners. In humility and vulnerability, we must also share our stories. For often, healing begins with one person's simple bravery.

Will you join us in changing the culture? Will you join us as we seek to better the health of women from pre-conception through preschool? Change begins with individuals. Change begins with us.

All my love,

d7a195ed-2ffc-4f86-81f9-61e03906f6e5

What Every Mom Secretly Wants for Mother's Day - courtesy of Birdsong Brooklyn

Barnes40

by Erica Livingston & Laura Interlandi of Birdsong Brooklyn  

Though the wonderful world of Social Media we have found many friends and kindred spirits. This post was written by two such souls in Brooklyn, NY. We hope it encourages your heart as it did ours. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram - Lauren Barnes | Executive Director | The Motherhood Collective

 

What Every Mom Secretly Wants for Mother's Day - courtesy of Birdsong Brooklyn

The most important holiday of the year is upon us…Mother’s Day.

If you had to guess what every mother wants for Mother’s Day what would it be? The cheap guesses are flowers, chocolate and jewelry…. More creative might be: that wooden teething necklace she pinned last night, a new Sakura Bloom silk ring sling she tried to win on instagram, a new bag for her breast pump, a gift card to the coffee shop around the corner from her work, a bottle of tequila with a pack of salt and a lime, a bi monthly cleaning service, a bag of every single flavor of M&M’s, the seasons pass to MadMen on iTunes, a homemade coupon for a night out with her bestie… Still however, we think the material exchange of thanks is always going to fall short and somehow miss the mark (and for the record… this is a “never instead of, always as well as” scenario so please do get us all of the above plus all of the following….)

What we think every mom is hoping for on mothers day is… to be mothered.

What does this mean? Rocked in a cradle and held and sung to? That sounds nice. But no- not exactly. What we want is to be considered, thought of, and shown in small moment to moment ways that you appreciate us by mirroring back the care we output the other 364 days of the year.

Think about it… its the way she is always thinking several steps ahead of everything going on,  with the burp cloth in her pocket to clean the inevitable impending mess or setting the kettle to brew before anyone has even thought they wanted tea. The way she remembers the kids ever-changing clothing and shoe sizes and knows exactly where everyone left their favorite hat or put the keys or stowed the diaper bag. She wants someone to make the itinerary for HER and make and execute all the choices that day and not be the one who decides what everyone eats and and when they eat it and where. And she definitely doesn’t want to clean it all up afterwards. She wants someone to metaphorically clean off her high chair, to figuratively get her favorite toys out and to symbolically wipe her butt.

Dads, friends, kids here’s what you can do for mom this year: sure, make her the cute card and buy her the gift you were saving up for but also…put a cup of tea or coffee in her hand as she rises. Have the three meals of the day planned, prepped and magically appearing before she can say “What should we do about lunch?”. Do not ask her where anything is that day. If you’ve lost something, find it, or wait and ask her on Monday. Don’t expect her to tell you what she wants to do or pick the kids outfits or make sure everyone eats at least two vegetables. For Mother’s Day this year don’t ask her to make any choices. You make the choices today and make the ones you know she loves: take the route that’s prettiest, decide to eat your lunch outside, and have the picnic blanket and basket all ready to go to her favorite spot in the park or backyard. Have her favorite movie or the bad reality TV show she secretly loves to watch already queued up and set to play after dinner when the littles are put to bed (or maybe while you do bedtime), draw her a lavender bath and put on her favorite pandora station while she soaks. Don’t offer to massage her feet or back just do it. Pick up those tired legs, set them in your lap and get rubbin’.

Don’t wait until 10AM and ask “Do you want to go for brunch?” and then wait in line with hungry kids making her feel like the day was an after thought. If you don’t have the time or money to plan an outing then make the day easy and special for her- get up and out of bed as soon as you hear the baby cry, change the diaper and let her sleep while you prep coffee (with the brown sugar and extra cream you know she takes).

Do the things she wants before she knows she wants them. She spends her days juggling schedules, commitments, expectations and clingy toddlers all the while trying to be 10 steps ahead reading everyones minds… or in other words- being a mom.

Today- be hers.

Happy Mother’s Day-

by Erica Livingston & Laura Interlandi of Birdsong Brooklyn

Local Hospital Earns BABY-FRIENDLY DESIGNATION!

TMC_WebsiteSlides_BabyFriendlyUSA

A very special day has come! You might remember my post back on March 2nd about our local hospital's push to become Baby-Friendly (read here.) Well, friends, advocates, mothers-to-be, mothers, grandmothers, and all of Lynchburg, VA. THEY DID IT! The call came in yesterday that Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital is now a Baby-Friendly Hospital. The Administration, Nursing Staff, Lactation Staff, and Care Providers have all worked tirelessly to put bring about a positive change in maternal and infant health. We could not be more proud. Please know that this was not an easy undertaking. There has been much education, many policy changes, some protocol changes, and so much more. All for YOU.

As a reminder, Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the following Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation.

The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in – allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

Join us in congratulating the hardworking team at Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital!

A short piece by the local news can be found here.

The Struggle of Self Care

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

At the Café yesterday we discussed self-care. This is an area in which my mother never excelled. There was always something more important to be done or someone more important to tend to. Rest was not valued nor encouraged. As a hormonal and sleepy adolescent this frustrated me to no end. Now that my mother is gone and I find myself in the role of "mother", I at last understand the enormity of her struggle. How do we as women with SO MUCH valuable work in front of us give appropriate value to rest and self-care?

I've heard it said that we are not fully able to, "love others as we love ourself" if we are not in the practice of showing true love to ourselves. What a true and convicting the statement. How will we expect those whom we are nurturing to care for their bodies, hearts, and minds if we are not setting an example?

Showing love to ourselves will most likely look differently for each of us. What can you do today, this week, or this month to thank yourself for the valuable work set before you?

I challenge you and I challenge myself. Let us see how we are better equipped to show love to those in our sphere of influence by caring for the very vessels of love.

Most sincerely,

d7a195ed-2ffc-4f86-81f9-61e03906f6e5

Baby-Friendly USA - Standing behind our local hospital

TMC_WebsiteSlides_BabyFriendlyUSA

One of the things we most desire as an organization is to advocate for a positive change in maternal health on a community level. It is for that reason that we are proud to stand behind our local hospital (Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital) in their effort to obtain the coveted, Baby-Friendly USA designation. The staff and administration have worked relentlessly to integrate the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding best practices. Baby-Friendly hospitals and birthing facilities must adhere to the Ten Steps to receive, and retain, a Baby-Friendly designation. The Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding are:

  1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Train all health care staff in the skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Give infants no food or drink other than breast-milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practice rooming in - allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or birth center.

Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital will have their site visit for accreditation by Baby-Friendly USA on March 10 and 11, 2015. They have a request for you, the mothers of our local community. The goal of the 2 site assessors will be to see moms here in the hospital, but they may need to call moms on the phone to ask about their stay. If you were a patient in the last 6 weeks you have the potential to hear from a Baby-Friendly assessor. Questions could include: Was your baby offered a pacifier? How long did you do skin to skin? Was your baby taken from your room? Would you be willing to take the time to speak honestly and truthfully with the assessors? Would you be willing to think about your answers to these questions in preparation? We know your time is limited and precious, and we thank you in advance for considering your response. Together we will support this momentum for a positive change in maternal health in our community.

If you have any questions or concerns, Jackie Weaver (Unit Manager, Mother Baby) would love to hear from you, her office number is 200-4630!

 

For more details about the practices put into place and the road to Baby-Friendly, read on:

The journey to this site visit is what led our hospital to add many of the wonderful processes you may have experienced recently. Skin to skin is now possible for 100% of our vaginal deliveries as long as everyone is stable. We offer skin to skin for our C-section patients as well as long as mom and baby are stable. Even if skin to skin is not possible after your C-section, we have an increased focus on non-separation of mom from her baby. This can include a care partner holding the baby close by in the operating room or mom meeting her baby in recovery. Skin to skin should last as long as mom wants and at least through the first feeding. This process has been very rewarding for our staff as we watch babies transition significantly better on mom’s chest.

Other practices influenced by our journey include rooming in and lactation education for all our staff members. Rooming in helps mom and babies learn to be a team by matching sleep cycles and becoming familiar with babies unique cues. All staff members received lactation education and training. We now have a team of lactation consultants who see moms (formula and breast milk) in the hospital as well as outpatient at our Baby Café.

We are so thankful to groups such as yours for your support and collaboration. Through your discussions, patient experience stories, and questions we have been able to influence the population health of our community. With the support of the wonderful moms in our area, we now have a breastfeeding rate of 90%.

Jackie Weaver | Unit Manager, Mother Baby

Volunteers Needed for "Breastfeeding Welcome Here" Sticker Campaign

We need YOU! The Virginia Department of Health’s Central Virginia Health District and  Live Healthy Lynchburg are showing their love for moms with the launch of their Breastfeeding Welcome campaign! From February 14 through Mother’s Day, CVHD, LHL, and community partners (YOU!) will be visiting Lynchburg-area businesses to encourage them to become breastfeeding friendly!

The campaign will utilize volunteers to spread the benefits of breastfeeding to local organizations. Those wishing to become a “Breastfeeding Friendly Organization” will post the campaign’s “Breastfeeding Welcome” sticker in their windows, a signal to the 90% of moms that leave Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital breastfeeding that they are welcome to do so inside.

Would you and a group of friends be willing to cover an area of our community? We are encouraging our volunteers to visit businesses that they currently frequent, using phrases like, “I’d love to post a sticker in your window to let other breastfeeding mothers know that you welcome them, just as you’ve welcomed me!”

To acquire a stack of stickers and letters today, email: lbarnes@themotherhoodcollective.org!IMG_7124

More information below:

 By becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Organization, area locations will enjoy several benefits, including free advertising from Live Healthy Lynchburg and area media. Families searching for breastfeeding-friendly venues will also be directed to these establishments. By allowing women to breastfeed on premise, organizations will also be in compliance with state legislation. Virginia statute § 18.2-387 on indecent exposure states that, "No person shall be deemed to be in violation of this section for breastfeeding a child in any public place or any place where others are present."

Becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Organization has great benefits for the community as well, as breastfeeding has a positive impact on the health of both babies and mothers. Breastfeeding decreases the risk of later childhood obesity, and evidence has shown that obese children are more likely to become obese adults. It also protects the infant against short- and long-term illnesses, lowers the risk of postneonatal mortality (infant death), and is protective against SIDS. Breastfeeding is great for mothers, too, by helping shed baby weight, providing bonding time, and decreasing mom’s risk of certain cancers.

Untitled1Untitled

You're not alone.

0185

I've had two hard weeks personally. Snow, sickness and the lack of school has not really helped my outlook. Do you have weeks like this? Weeks where you can't get ahead? Where laundry piles up, emails go unwritten, texts and messages pile up on your phone? You ever feel like you're failing as a mother, partner, friend, employee? Perhaps your struggles run even deeper. Perhaps you roll your eyes at the things above and think, "if only she knew the extent of my pain." Well, I might not know each hurt, each ache, each problem. But I know this. You're not alone. I'm so sorry for your bad week. Your bad month. Your bad year. I'm sorry for the pain that might run beneath it all. My heart hurts for you that this journey of MOTHERHOOD is not as simple as we all dreamed.

It is easy to isolate myself when I feel this way. To imagine my problems (small or large) will annoy my friends. But we need each other, don't we? We need to walk MOTHERHOOD together. This is one of the reasons I am so thankful for this organization. I has brought me into relationship with women I never would have known. Women who are nothing like me, but are my who are my partners in MOTHERHOOD.

Even if your little world is pain free, don't do MOTHERHOOD alone. Pour into someone else now, today. For, together we are SERVING WOMEN and CHANGING LIVES. I know you've changed mine.

Most sincerely,

d7a195ed-2ffc-4f86-81f9-61e03906f6e5

We need relationships.

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

Sending you warm and loving thoughts as we near Valentine's Day. Motherhood can be such a lonely and isolating job. I don't desire that for any of you. We need relationships. We need them on the sunshine and rainbows days and on the dark and stormy days. Sometimes, though, it takes a first step. It takes being uncomfortable. It takes effort. It takes reaching out.

Will you challenge yourself? Will you push your fears aside as we near the holiday that celebrates relationships? Text a friend. Go on a walk with a neighbor. Join us at playgroup. Practice self care and attend a support group.

I loved seeing all the new and familiar faces at the Café yesterday morning! I applaud each of you for putting in the work to make it there. I hope the laughter was refreshing and the panel educational. If there is ever any way in which we could be serving you better, would you email me at: lbarnes@themotherhoodcollective.org?

We are here for you. We long to see a societal change in maternal health. Will that change start with you?

Most sincerely,

d7a195ed-2ffc-4f86-81f9-61e03906f6e5

"Nurturing the mother to grow the child."

Photo by Liz Cook of Sincerely, Liz, Inc.

January is almost over. Winter storms cover the East Coast. What an honor it has been to serve you wherever motherhood finds you this winter. Are you familiar with our tagline? "Nurturing the mother to grow the child." Do you know how deeply we believe this? Motherhood is challenging. Our primary goal is to nurture, support and educate you; enabling you to make the choices best for your family. We are passionate about cheering you on - helping you find your truth.

My heart was filled to overflowing as I watched so many of you play with different baby carriers at the Saturday Café Express and Monday Café. Your laughter and encouragement was contagious. For those of you who joined us for the first time, I applaud you for your bravery in stepping out to connect with women you did not know. For those of you who missed your time with us, be sure to visit the blog for recaps and valuable information.

Be sure to check out all of the upcoming events listed on the calendar. There are many opportunities for connection and support wherever you have need. If there is any way in which we could be serving you better, please let me know.

All my love,

d7a195ed-2ffc-4f86-81f9-61e03906f6e5

Happy New Year from The Motherhood Collective!

0012

For those of you who joined us for the first time yesterday morning, welcome! We enjoyed meeting each of you and truly hope you were able to connect, learn and receive support. If you have any questions about yesterday's topic, panelists, our resources, please let me know: lbarnes@themotherhoodcollective.org. The Café panelists covered a vast array of subjects, from adding value to our children to their methods of correction. They encouraged us to embrace today, reminding us that the challenges we face today will fade and new obstacles will arise with each year of growth (even when our children are grown!). Each season with our children is precious and brief. Eileen spoke of how she writes out a blessing for her children full of hopes for their future and affirmations of who they are today. She reads this to them on their birthday and frames them. What a beautiful idea!

Our hope for this year is to bring more depth to our education and support by serving you in love, on purpose and with focus. We are honored to create spaces where women of all philosophies, parenting theories, ages, and backgrounds can come together and support one another. Together we will "nurture the mother to grow the child".

Most sincerely,

d7a195ed-2ffc-4f86-81f9-61e03906f6e5

Labor Pains: A note from our Executive Director

When we began this website, we posted The Motherhood Collective's "Birth Story" and we invited you to come along with us as we continued to grow and we referenced our possible, future labor pains. Well, here we are and are writing about it. The Motherhood Collective© is experiencing some exciting changes as we continue to increase awareness and network in our local community and beyond.

Many of you have been encouraged by our local outreach, The Motherhood Café. This is one of our favorite ways to serve as it brings us face-to-face with the mothers of our local community. We desire to continue this particular service for years and years to come. That said, we have had to have some hard talks about making the Café as sustainable as possible.The Motherhood Collective

Over the next years we hope to take our passion for education and support to a new level. This might mean providing scholarships for childbirth education, certificates for lactation consultants, supporting local postpartum depression groups, providing increased opportunities to for you to gather with women in your seasons of life, and even planting "chapters" in other communities around the country.

We operate on a limited, donation-supported budget and wish to employ these funds in the best way possible. Currently a large portion of these dollars is used to supply Café food and coffee. While this is a worthy "cause", its reach is not far and we feel there are needs much greater (such as those projects mentioned above).

We are not doing away with food altogether, but rather opening up a conversation. What would you, the women we serve, prefer to see? No food at all or food that costs you a small amount? We know that our incomes vary and that honestly, priorities vary. We are working on several ways to continue offering some type of refreshments, but with different options.  We've discussed providing vouchers for first time attendees, selling prepaid punch cards and gifting punch cards in our new mom baskets.  Please know that making our mothers feel comfortable and cared for on Mondays is still very much part of our intent.  We do not make these changes lightly.

We know that many of you care passionately about this organization and you are the very women we serve. So, would you take a moment to fill out this survey and share your opinions with us? We long to continue in our efforts to Nurture the Mother to Grow the Child and your help would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

Community: A Cure for the Mom Wars

Holding HandsCall it what you want, “mom wars”, “mom-petition”, “avocado pointing”, the tension between moms has been getting a lot of attention in the media (or at least on blogs) lately. It seems like all summer long, there was at least one link in my Facebook feed on regarding this topic. This is not one of those posts. Over the summer I posted this on my Facebook wall…

“I know some of you have asked if I need any help now or after the baby comes. I am putting together a list of ladies who would be willing to bring a meal after baby. (My sister in law will be coordinating this). Also looking for one or two women who might be able to come sit at the hospital with me for an hour or two during my stay, in case Josh has to work at some point. (C-section stay is a bit longer and hard to pick up baby on my own). If you are interested in either of these just PM me with your e-mail address or comment here with it. Thank you ladies so much. Blessed to have so many wonderful women in my life.”

What followed was a beautiful string of replies and e-mails offering love and support. But my mother’s reply has played in my head over and over again for the past two and a half months.

She said, “Women helping women birth babies into the world: a song as old as time.”

Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? It’s not about simply saying “you do your thing and I will do mine”, but reaching out and actively doing life with each other.

As people, there is something deep within us that is designed to live in community. I believe that, as women, we feel this urge on a visceral level-- maybe never more deeply than when it comes time to bring a baby into the world. And yet, gone are the days of mothers, sisters and aunts being the ones by our side as we birth our children.

We live in a time and place where often births take place in a hospital and are attended by a staff of medical professionals we have never met, rather than by the women who know our hearts. We have taken the community and the support out of the birthing process and perhaps, by extension, taken it out of the mothering process as well. For some women, it has led to a return to home births attended by midwives and doulas, mothers and sisters. But for some women, for whatever reason, this isn’t an option. So where does that leave us?

We no longer live in a society where community comes naturally. It seems the days of knowing your neighbors and the names of all of your children’s friends’ parents, have passed. And so we must make our own community. We must choose to be actively involved in one another’s lives. Community isn’t easy. In fact, it is often messy, inconvenient and painful. We have to make the choice to invite people into our lives, and step into theirs. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but the rewards are beautiful. If you are busy investing in and loving on other moms, other women, other people, it’s a lot harder to judge them. When we choose to take an active role in one another’s lives, when we choose to love on one another, when we choose to do true community (no masks, no cliques) maybe the mom wars will fade away.

Meet The Motherhood Collective© Staff: Barbie Sutton

Ever wonder who's behind The Motherhood Collective? Over the next few weeks we'll be introducing you to our dedicated team of volunteers. These women are all mothers - once, twice or many times over. While they come from different backgrounds and have various approaches to pregnancy, birth and parenting, each one is dedicated to creating a place where ALL mothers can find education and support. Meet our Café Monday Mama and C0-Founder! Barbie helped design who we are today, read on to get to know her!

0009Barbie is a mother to many; both physically and emotionally. Encouragement exudes from her and she has walked many of us through our delicate transition into motherhood. When we began the process of forming this organization we knew we would need Barbie at our side. Through our initial days of dreaming and grunt work, she has been a needed voice of reason. Her dedication to women in our community is beautiful.

While her own children are almost all completely out of the home, Barbie continues to remain active in the lives of women in their childbearing years. A registered nurse, event planner, health and childbirth advocate, Barbie is a beautiful soul who delights in enjoying this life to its fullest.

Currently Barbie serves the women of The Motherhood Collective© on Café Mondays overseeing activities in our Café kitchen and continually thinking up new ways to serve our mamas. She consistently sits as a panelist and often leads our small group on Parenthood offering advice that is tempered by her many years of experience.

With an open heart, optimism and constant support, we truly could not imagine this organization without our Barbie.

Thank you, Barbie, for serving the women and families of The Motherhood Collective©.

Meet the Motherhood Collective Staff: Carrie McGinn

Ever wonder who's behind The Motherhood Collective? Over the next few weeks we'll be introducing you to our dedicated team of volunteers. These women are all mothers - once, twice or many times over. While they come from different backgrounds and have various approaches to pregnancy, birth and parenting, each one is dedicated to creating a place where ALL mothers can find education and support. Meet our Director of Hospitality! Carrie is such fun, you should get to know her too!

0002We met sweet Carrie after the birth of her first son, and had the privilege of walking alongside her during her second pregnancy! After observing all the ways in which she naturally encouraged and supported her fellow mothers, we asked her to come on board as our Director of Hospitality in the Spring of 2013.

Carrie's most important task is the organizing of Postpartum Meals. She interviews mothers who have requested this special service; then, upon the birth of their child, sets up a "train" of meals. These meals are provided by other women of The Motherhood Collective© and are tailored to the needs of each postpartum family's needs. She also volunteers her time on Mondays at The Motherhood Café, serving as a Group Leader and an oh-so-valuable Kitchen Worker.

With a mischievous sparkle in her eye and free-flowing laughter, Carrie's creative thinking, hard work and professionalism bring such value to our team!

Thank you, Carrie, for serving the women and families of The Motherhood Collective©.

~~~

Are you a cook? Would you love to serve by bringing a meal to those in need? Do you have a heart for mothers figuring out the postpartum stage of motherhood? Would you like to send a gift card from afar? Email Carrie at hospitality@themotherhoodcollective.org. We would love to add you to our hospitality team!

You Just Never Know (Until You Know)

learning

tools of the trade by juliesorgeway  

I want to talk about my five-month-old, and pee, and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Nine years — almost my entire adult life — I have worked as an educator. My husband is a college professor too. Education, facts and research are a big part of our lives, and we were willing suckers for every baby book and doodad that claims to be somehow educational. Black and white brain stimulating mobile? Check. Baby sign language? Alphabet sheets to somehow ooze literacy into his wispy baby head? Check check. But even after just a few months with our little boy, I feel like, cliché or not, really it's I who have most to learn.

Most people are familiar with the paradoxical phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger effect, even if they’ve never heard of it before. Basically two Cornell researchers did a bunch of observations indicating that in general, the more you actually know about a topic, the more you worry that you don’t know enough. And, not coincidentally, the less you truly know, the more likely you are to overestimate your own expertise! Now, if you're like me, you can instantly, snarkily think of one or two people in your life who this just perfectly applies to. But maybe it’s more useful if we each were first to try applying it to ourselves.

Raising my hand right here: I was a classic Dunning-Kruger parenting “expert” before my baby was born. Reading and note-taking are kind of my favorite thing ever, so I researched the very soul out of every single newborn issue I could imagine. Nine glorious months of page-turning and highlighting! I knew that parts of my pregnancy, birth, and parenting journey would be out of my hands, and parts I could do my best to control. Statistics and anecdotal evidence alike were ready and confident on the tip of my tongue. I spent time reading birth stories of every possible variation of experience. And I don't regret any of that reading, or thinking, or planning. It helped me do pregnancy my way, and made so much of the unknown feel safer to me. Yet within a few weeks of my actual son’s actual arrival? Even though in fact I suddenly had much more experience, I felt so much less of an expert.

Despite having great support, I found there were so many things that felt harder than I had anticipated. It isn't that nobody warned me; on the contrary I had several honest mama friends who shared their hearts and tried to prepare me for the changes newborn life would bring. But nothing really could. So many of the shortcuts, tips, and tricks that had been “lifesavers” for my mama friends didn’t work for me, or for my baby, at all. Even some of the issues I thought I would feel most passionate about, in my prenatal fits of highlighting, ended up falling away as I found myself with a new, smaller set of certainties. Here are just a few of the things I held on to in those early days:

  • Things will get easier. Even though every age will have its challenges, newborn life is a tough adjustment for almost all new parents. The roller coaster cliché is true. But it will be okay.
  • It’s only a little pee. Let’s just say my standards of what constitutes a true midnight laundry emergency have… evolved.
  • Don’t mess with happy. Whether it’s the baby’s happiness, or my own, I have realized how much I tend to over-meddle. He's asleep with his head flopping to the side? That can't be comfortable... maybe if I just "fix" it... You see where this is going, right? It’s not always wise to try to perfect something that is already working out okay.
  • Let him see you smiling. He looks to me so often in this phase of his life. Okay, at first he mostly stared at my hairline or maybe the ceiling fan, but pretty soon he realized it's the parents who are the first center of his universe. So I don’t want to always have my brow furrowed, to always be worrying about the next thing that could somehow be better. I want him to see me smile, because really? We have a lot to smile about.

And even any of these, I know, might not ring true for any one reader in particular. My point is: Not one of them would have seemed like an important idea to me back when I was an expert. And it's this change, from the researched knowledge to the experienced, that no one could really prepare me for.

I still read a lot, when I can fit it in. I still care about doing the best I can to make reasonable decisions on issues that come up. But as my little boy grows, I continue to realize how much is probably out there that I still really don’t know. There are times when I imagine all the questions ahead of us, all the things I don't even know I don't know yet, and within me anxiety starts to rise. But when it does, I try my best to remember good old Dunning-Kruger, take a deep breath, and remind myself that maybe, just maybe, the less I feel like I confidently know “for sure” as a parent, the more I’ve actually learned.

--- The Motherhood Collective is on Facebook. Like us, then comment on our giveaway post for a chance to win a family photo shoot from Adam Barnes Photography. Our contest ends when we hit 500 Likes!

Welcome, Friends!

Pregnant Mom

Welcome, friends, to the Motherhood Collective Blog!
We are thrilled to launch this new online project and hope that it becomes a trusted resource and place for both education and support. We are grateful to our staff of lovely writers for sharing their thoughts about pregnancy, birth, infancy and parenting.

It seems fitting that we begin our project with an emphasis on birth stories, as this is the birth of our new project. Here at the Collective, we are committed to sharing our stories, information, helpful hints and hopefully the concept that "an educated mother is the best mother". We hope to introduce you to some new ideas and reassure you that you have many choices as you travel through parenthood.

Please, explore our new site and familiarize yourself with our local resources. Enjoy the words of our blog writers. Our group has grown because of the knowledge and enthusiasm of our members. If you have resource information to add, have a personal birth story to submit or are interested in contributing to the blog as a regular or occasional writer, please contact us. We want to hear from you!The Motherhood Collective

We are so excited to watch this site grow and change based on the interests of our audience and varied experiences of our writers. We have a lot coming up for you, including some great giveaways from our sponsors. Come, join us on this journey! (ANd check back tomorrow for another BIG announcement you don't want to miss!)

 "Nurturing the mother to grow the child."

"Like" us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter