What does it mean to mother or be a mother? A word that means many different things to many different people. A word that can make us feel so comfortable and so uncomfortable. In the lead up to Mother's Day, we spoke to three incredible women. Good friends and supporters of Videris, we hear their tales of motherhood. We hope these experiences speak to you, help you, relate to you, or inspire you. They are beautiful, open and very, very, honest. Please be aware some of these stories include conversations around miscarriage, infertility, and cancer.
Sarah on who she was before motherhood
I’m a mother, and a woman.
I have always kept a journal. It’s years long. It is filled with stories, memories and dreams. My imagination can sometimes get in the way of the truth, but for the most part it’s an honest recollection of a girl who was on the run. Not running away, but running toward, with open arms, life; embracing it, dance floor by dance floor. My journal remembers all the details now lost to the fog of time. I hope one day to share it with my daughter, Ophelia.
I hope this journal can tell Ophelia of who I am. Or at least who I was, before I was her mother.
Me as a woman, in all my romantic enthusiasm and dry sarcasm. I hope she reads it and understands that before her mother I was a woman who wanted to touch life in as many ways as possible. I could have been 100 other people, sometimes I struggled with the one I had become, and at times I felt like many of them at once. I was loved, more than once. I stayed up late telling strangers about my dreams and I woke up early to bring them to life. I changed my mind. I started over. I moved across the globe for love. I made rash decisions, but I never regret a single one of them. I wonder if she’ll be surprised to learn who I was.
I’m glad it is written down. Carved in stone. Reading it back to myself feels sweet, like looking back to see if your longing is met with the eyes of a lover. I am that girl, but also, I am not. The day my waters broke, the inner tide shifted.
I am not that same girl today, I cannot be, even though sometimes I ache to try to be.
My journal is a map that leads to the wildflowers which grow within my mind. I wonder if Ophelia will follow it down the garden path.
Sha on unconditional love through hardship
I wrote these poems for my son. He was 13 when I was first diagnosed with cancer and 15 when it reoccurred and told it was terminal.
The only way he could cope was by disassociating with me. He stopped talking to me, wouldn’t look at me and refer to me as She. It hurt so so so much, but I understood what and why he was doing this. He’d hoped that when I did die it would hurt less. I used to cry in my bedroom, then pull myself together and pretend it was ok. I continued to tell him I loved him forever and always.
I gave him the space he needed, but when he slept I would go into his room and watch him breathe (as I did when he was a baby) and whisper how much he meant to me, hoping it would subconsciously be embedded. I wrote messages and special cards for those important moments I would miss and I wrapped up a favourite scarf with a bottle of perfume so he’d not forget my scent. This was probably the saddest point in my life ever. As a mother I always dreamed of being there for him and watch him grow.
I do believe that having gone through this trauma has sadly left its mark on him. He describes this time in his life as being out at sea,
alone and with waves continually coming and rocking him, but waiting and bracing for the big one that would dunk him under. I think it’s wonderful that he can share such personal feelings with me again.
Last year I thankfully celebrated his 18th birthday, something I thought I would not.
We now often sit up late at night together and he shares his artwork or music with me. I love to hear him laugh. We are once again close, and that is how I hope it will be for a long long time. He is my one and only very special person and I love him unconditionally.
Anita on loss
Coming home to myself
The journey to becoming a mother can be so many things for so many women. For me, it was long, arduous, and painful, with layers of grief that at times seemed unbearable, that in the end became beautiful and joyful with deep learnings of Surrender, Gratitude, Compassion, Empathy - a deep knowing of my soul path of devotion to being in service. It is a journey of connection, a remembering of my innate wholeness, and what a miracle it is that I, or anyone exists.
After 12 years of trying to conceive and become a ‘mother’, you go on a pilgrimage with yourself that cracks you open, where you intimately know your own shadow and the crevices of what it is to be human and ultimately brings you back home to yourself, whole and loving. Each disappointment is an opportunity and an invitation to meet yourself, time and time again.
We did seven rounds of IVF, four of those in Spain, which gave us five transferred embryos and concluded with zero pregnancies.
We were offered three babies for adoption, two babies we chose not to take and the one baby we decided to go ahead with was pulled from us at the last minute. A family friend was considering us as an option to raise her baby as she was choosing to gift her next child, she chose another family who was struggling to conceive. We went through two cancelled rounds of egg donors. The first one was not the right fit and the second one was a beautiful fit but at the 11th hour, we chose to not go through with it.
After 12 years, we decided to let go of having a baby and growing our family. I had just finished Tami Lynn Kent's training in Holistic Pelvic Care which was a profound experience and I felt completely embodied. We were to start with the egg donor within 48 hours and something in my body said, this doesn't feel right anymore. I realised that I was just going through the motions so that I didn’t have any regrets. I had to TRUST myself and LET GO. There were some strong, undeniable synchronicities from the universe. When you ask for the signs and you're open, they tend to get answered.
I spoke to a dear friend and teacher and told her that we had decided to let this journey go. She immediately said we needed to do a ceremony. Not wanting to make a fuss I said it wasn’t necessary.
She replied 'Can we please not ignore the fact that you have been trying for a baby for 12 years and honour this process.’ The words hit my heart, I couldn't not honour everything we had been through.
The day was filled with a circle of loved people, there was so much love and witnessing, there was a Despacho (gratitude ceremony) learned from Rochelle Shieck, creator of Qoya, passed down from the Quechua people of the Andes,. There was a Cacao Ceremony from Mayan tradition, a Spiritual bath passed down from Don Elijio Panti a shaman from Belize. We had Kirtan (chanting) from Yogic tradition and a Havan (fire ceremony) from Yogic tradition. It was powerful and beyond words, I was vibrating for months afterwards.
I’m so grateful that through this journey I found ceremonial practices, something that I feel we aren’t familiar with in western culture. We have often lost these parts of our lineage and when we return to them it feels like a remembering - that this is what my ancestors did, this is why it feeds my soul. As a practice, these ceremonies have become an integral part of my life and my clinic practice. To offer this to women who have experienced deep loss/grief is profoundly healing. My heart is full to be in reverence to these practices I have been taught.
I truly know that if I had not gone to these depths of pain and taken grief by the hand, if I had not travelled to all these places with myself and been committed to my ongoing healing journey, I would never be able to hold space for women who have experienced deep grief - whether from losing a baby or from trying to conceive and experiencing month after month of feeling like a something is wrong with them and that their body is letting them down. It’s an honour and privilege to be present with these bodies that trust me.
The story above is condensed but those who know, know all the in-between spaces that one faces when trying to conceive. Megan Watterson says in her book Reveal, that nothing good can ever be lost, I love this concept, this in my lived experience is true. Everything that I have experienced with my life/fertility journey was leading me to this point in time right now. Everything I deemed a loss bought me closer to myself.
For part of my healing to happen, my concept of Motherhood has needed to change - I have lost my own mother and gone on the journey of wanting to become a mother. I've had to call on something that is much bigger than myself to hold me - Papatūānuku, Mother Earth, Pachamama. I feel the embrace of Mother Earth around me. Over the years, the more I have connected to myself and been in the right relationship with her, the more I feel the resonance between us. After all, we are not separate.
I've looked at what mothering really means for me. In western culture, there is exclusivity. A mother is seen to be someone who has birthed or has a child, whereas in indigenous cultures the entire village mothers.
It was very one-dimensional in the beginning for me, but what I've come to experience (and it is ever-changing) is that mothering is so much more than mothering a child. I mother myself and the little girl within, friends, clients, god baby, stepson, my partner, fur babies, friends children, immediate family, mother earth, my garden…. and I deeply receive mothering from all of these places too.
It’s been 4 years since letting go and realising that this one broken dream has over time allowed a thousand other dreams to come true. It has led me to so many amazing things and people!. Arvigo Therapy, Holistic Pelvic Care, Spiritual Healing, and Qoya - all of which bring me an incredible amount of meaning and joy. To helping women come back home to themselves and connect to their truest essence and much much more. Would I change anything? I can honestly say no, hell no! I’m completely in love with life and this journey has gifted me to trust ALL of life. Does this mean I won’t fall down again? No, but I’ll pick my little girl up bring her closer than before, and mother her deeply.
Wherever you are on your journey, whether it's preconception, pregnancy, postpartum, whether you have experienced loss - be it a baby, a dream, your womb, ovaries, aunty, mother, grandmother - what if everything that is happening is bringing you to a deeper truth, a deeper connection to yourself?
Do I believe that anything is possible? Yes, I do.
I have so much gratitude to all the people, places, creatures, and things seen and unseen that have helped and guided me to this point in time. Thank you Thank you Thank you