In the last couple of weeks I’ve been going through archives on this here blog. My intention is to dust off all that old content to make it better, delete where appropriate, and figure out a way to make what’s left useful now.
For several years I hosted a podcast called NaturalMomsTalkRadio. I’m finding transcriptions of old shows, and going through them has been delightful.
Today I began editing an interview with Jody McLaughlin, editor of Compleat Mother magazine. Compleat Mother was a self-published, radical mothering rag that featured home birth stories, breastfeeding and homeschooling articles in the style of an 80’s ‘zine.
And I loved it.
Reading its pages was like getting a dose of therapy. Once I became a mom, I had the persistent feeling that I didn’t fit in anywhere. Going to La Leche League meetings helped me find a tribe, and without LLL and Compleat Mother, I would have felt even more isolated.
I don’t believe the magazine has published an issue since 2009, but backissues might be available if you contact Compleat Mother directly.
Jody McLaughlin on “Mothering Up”
In this interview, Jody talks about the concept of “mothering up“. Apparently it’s a term used in farming. Sometimes an animal won’t quite take to mothering as it should. Since the bonding and successful feeding of the newborn animal is so important to the farmer’s investment, he has figured out ways to encourage mothering behavior.
As I re-read this, I thought about my own mothering experience, and a few things fell into place for me. My life is in flux at the moment, and sometimes my roles are in conflict with my feelings. I’m 41 and my hormones are shifting. Like it or not, we are creatures whose thoughts, feelings and actions are impacted (perhaps more than we like to admit) by hormones.
The concept of the Baby Moon reminded me of just one of the reasons having a premature baby causes a mother so much grief.
It’s because she is completely stripped of this precious time.
Imagine marrying the love of your life (after birth your hormones mimic being in love, you are irrationally drugged by this feeling for your newborn), and moments after saying, “I do”, your beloved is whisked off to war.
You aren’t sure if he’ll survive the ordeal.
Even if he comes home intact, you’re still grieving this turn of events. Even if he’s going to be okay, you have been robbed of something truly precious that you can never have back. You are both shell-shocked by the experience.
And things will never be the same.
Those feelings don’t just go away with rational justifications. (This too shall pass, and other useless pithy sayings…)
It’s embarrassing for the mom of a preemie to admit her grief, lest people judge her ungrateful for her baby’s health (when so many other mothers have experienced the death of their babies…)
I believe in the sacred, primal idea of the baby moon. That’s why I chose to give birth at home five times. It’s why, when my oldest child was born in hospital, I insisted on him not leaving my side for several hours after his birth.
I refused prophylactic eye drops that would obscure my child’s vision of me. I refused pacifiers, bottles of sugar water or any other medical interventions that would disrupt a process that we would never think to disrupt when observing animals birthing!
These things make a difference. And we know it. A woman who has given birth prematurely is a different creature, hormonally and biologically speaking, than a woman who has given birth under normal circumstances. (This is why breastfeeding a preemie is so difficult.)
She is a mother, but where is the baby?
The phantom pains of an amputee are very real.
You might enjoy reading my interview with Compleat Mother editor Jody McLaughlin here.