So often parenting is seen as a competitive sport. If there was a Parenting Olympics, the medals would go to those more skilled in: Bitchiness, Giving Useless Advice, Giving Unwanted Advice, Doling Out Put-Downs (Disguised as Super-Helpful Advice, with an extra medal of extremely clever disguises), Showing Other Parents Why You Do It Right and They Do It Wrong,
In 2015, Stephanie Sprenger and Jessica Smock of the HerStories Project decided to do something about that. First Stephanie wrote a blog post about the need to talk honestly about mothers’ experiences after giving birth, sharing the good and the bad, giving a boarder picture of what is normal. Her post, So Glad They Warned Me, went viral. She and Jessica followed this with the social media campaign #Sogladtheytoldme, inviting mothers to join them on social media sharing stories of their experiences of genuine support. The aim was to provide understanding, encouragement and support to any mothers who might need it. Stephanie put out this call:
Instead of offering volumes of unwanted negativity or blowing sunshine up your maternity skirt, what if we offered compassionate, well-intentioned, helpful truths to comfort and uplift mothers?
We want to hear from YOU now. Did anyone throw you a life preserver at some point—either during your pregnancy, postpartum period, or even later into motherhood? Did someone give you a piece of advice or an honest admission that you were profoundly grateful for?
That campaign led to radio and television appearances for Stephanie, and soon she and Jessica decided to make So Glad They Told Me into something permanent. As editors and publishers of several anthologies of personal essays by women, it was clear to them this was the perfect subject for their next project.
I wasn’t involved in the initial #sogladtheytoldme social media campaign, because at the time my family were in shock after the deaths of my mother-in-law and father-in-law, deaths that came just a few weeks apart. But, when Stephanie and Jessica put out a call for contributions to their anthology, I was delighted to submit an essay and even more delighted that they liked it enough to include it in the book! And thrilled when I read some of the other amazing essays – it’s such an honour to be included in such a high quality book that will be of so much benefit to others. (Which has a foreword by the amazing Ann Imig, founder of Listen To Your Mother.)
And my delight continued when I saw this a few minutes ago:
Yes, So Glad They Told Me launched today and it’s gone straight to number one for new releases of the Motherhood category and to Number 6 in the category overall.
So what can you expect from it?
My essay is one of sixty, many of them written by mothers who were glad in some way about what someone told them. That someone might be another mother, a husband or friend, parents or grandparents. In some of the essays, mothers write about what they wish someone had told them. Now they have told other mothers, passed on what they needed to hear. Now all of us in So Glad They Told Me have shared what we hope will support some other mothers, going through their own journeys in parenthood.
Some of the essays in So Glad They Told Me are will make you laugh out loud. Mine is not one of them. My essay, Full Circle, is about the early days after our second daughter was born over three months prematurely, and in particular it is about several women I met in those first days and weeks. These women were mostly nurses, and you could say that in the care they gave our daughter and me, they were just doing their job – but it takes someone with deep understanding and compassion to do that job well. It takes someone special to do that job exceptionally well, and that’s what the nurses you will meet in my essay did. They cared beyond what their job asked of them, and that caring told me what I needed to hear as much as their words did. There were times in the months after our second daughter was born that I thought I was losing my mind, there were times when I thought I was becoming a monster. My wish is that my story will help some new mother, struggling with those emotions, to know that just like me, she is normal. I hope she will be so glad I told her.
You can read the opening of Full Circle below.
I could only hear one side of the phone conversation, but that was enough to know it wasn’t good. I could hear it in the tone of my husband’s voice and in the words he said: words like critical and stable. I could see it in the droop of his shoulders, in the grip of his hand on the receiver. He put down the phone, and stood, not speaking. Fear filled the space between us.
“It’s a lung infection. She’s on a ventilator. They’re giving her antibiotics for the infection and morphine to make her comfortable.”
I sat down. In my mind’s eye, I saw our baby in her incubator, her tiny body punctured by yet more needles, morphine pumping into her veins. I imagined her pain and fear. I imagined her permanently damaged by this illness and for one horrible moment, I wondered if it might be better for her if she died.
To read the rest, click through to buy So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood!
Thank you for reading!
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