By Mary Giordano
I often hear mothers lament the lack of time they have to themselves after their babies are born. It seems to be a regular topic of conversation between mums and I absolutely get it, as I feel it too. All. The. Time. When my son was born 5.5 years ago it became apparent to me very quickly that my ‘me time’ was suddenly a precious commodity and I struggled to adjust to the change. For me, time alone is an absolute necessity and essential element of my wellbeing; an opportunity to recharge my batteries and reconnect myself to my inner world and external surroundings, preferably in silence or quiet. After I emerged from the delirious first few months of parenthood, my ‘me time’ was still very elusive so I did a mental inventory on how I was investing my time in an attempt to regain some from somewhere, anywhere. I made a few changes, including quitting all social media, and all of a sudden I regained a little bit of time. A win!
I then made a list of some things that I found nourishing and decided that regardless of the energy I was expending on the draining parts of my day I would make a commitment to myself to do at least one of these activities every single day. For me these were massage, dancing, meditation, time in nature, making things, reading, taking a hot bath and practising yoga. I wanted my goal to be realistic so I was mindful of ensuring the list included some things I could do together with my son if need be, but my preference was nevertheless to carve out some time alone, where possible. I learned that sometimes even the briefest moments of alone time could suffice to get me through even the most challenging days.
When my son was one I returned to work, managing a Community Hub where I supported migrant and refugee women to identify meaningful pathways for themselves and engaging activities for their preschool aged children during their resettlement in Australia. Although this work was sometimes emotionally draining, I often found my work days easier than the days I was home being mum. I continued my commitment to myself to do at least one of my soul nourishing activities each day and although I didn’t always manage, I knew that it was me that had to make it happen and that there was no point making excuses to myself about why I couldn’t get a break.
I always imagined having more than one child but after a traumatic experience of childbirth the first time around and a significant struggle adjusting to motherhood, the idea of spreading myself even more thin was daunting to say the least. However, when my son was 3.5 I was pregnant again and that is when I found MAMA. When I first met Jan, she assured me that a better birth was possible, and even probable the second time around. I found great solace in the conversations I had with the MAMA midwives as I journeyed through my second pregnancy and prepared to birth my second baby and myself, as a mother of two. When the time came, my daughter’s birth was better than I could have imagined. A beautiful, serene and life changing experience that filled me with confidence and positivity and despite my prior concerns, my transition to motherhood for the second time was smooth and easy.
Needless to say, for the first few months postpartum, my ‘me time’ was once again very hard to claim but once we all adjusted I was able to find the time I needed to nourish my soul in solitude every single day. This is still a non negotiable for me. Interestingly though, instead of taking advantage of my maternity leave to rest and relax, I actually stepped up a gear. I trained to become a doula in order to support other women to have similarly positive and empowering experiences and childbirth and to help collectively dismantle the culture of fear our society perpetuates around childbirth. I started volunteering on some projects for Birth for Humankind in order to marry my former professional life with my emerging one. I also started a business, called madreluna, that encompasses my doula work and a range of wellbeing products I lovingly make to encourage other women to take time out for themselves.
The products I make are a direct reflection of my own efforts to find time to nourish my soul and reclaim my ‘me time’ and they are all things that I personally enjoy using. Not surprisingly the range currently includes bath salts and milk baths, both enriched with organic rose petals from my garden; a rich blend of herbs that support healing for use in a postpartum sitz bath; heat packs infused with organic lavender, perfect for use during labour; mother and child matching eye pillows infused with organic lavender – perfect for relaxation, meditation and to prepare for sleep; a luxurious coffee, raw sugar, vanilla and cinnamon body scrub and handmade buntings of flags that are customisable to include your favourite affirmations for labour and birth. I am excited that my relationship with MAMA is ongoing and has recently turned into a partnership with some of my products now available on the shelves at the clinic in Kensington. Make sure you check them out next time you visit; you might just find they’re just what you were waiting for to encourage you to take some time out yourself.
For readers that are interested, one of the things I have been working on for Birth for Humankind is a community event to celebrate the organisation’s fantastic work and important community relationships, existing and emerging. You are cordially invited to attend the event on Saturday 31st August from 12-3pm at Our Community House, 552 Victoria Street, North Melbourne.
For more information about myself or madreluna, please visit www.madreluna.com.au
Written by Mary Giordano