Attachment parenting in a disconnected world

Posts tagged ‘new mother’

Words of Love

I am working on a project for AltD2’s birthday which is coming up at the start of September.  I suppose this kind of follows on from the creativity post, although you’ll have to wait and see what it actually is.  What I want to share today has more to do with the content.

When I was younger, there was a cheesy and (usually depressing) segment on Radio 1 called “Our Tune”.  Simon Bates would read out listeners’ letters in a Serious Voice.  Soothing music would play in the background.  Invariably the couple had split up, the dog had died or some other tragedy had befallen the writer.  The feature would culminate with a sentimental, meaningful song. [Hey, wow, I just googled and discovered it is still on!]

You have probably figured out by now that I am hinting that I have a special song, an “Our Tune” I suppose (but without Simon Bates and a long-lost goldfish), for each of the Alt Daughters.  Not sure I have one for AltFather, unless you count the first dance at our wedding, which, incidentally, was Dido’s “Thank You“, and not the Eminem Stan version, you may be pleased to hear! 

So I thought I would share these songs, and how they came to be.

When AltD1 was born, we spent a few nights in the hospital, getting to know each other, working out what was what, struggling a bit with feeding, and starting our life together.  She was being fed expressed milk alternating with formula from a bottle.

‘They’ said to me:
“Someone else should give her the bottle, not you, so she doesn’t get confused.” 
My role seemed to be to hitch myself up like Daisy the cow to a turbo powered pump, and when I wasn’t doing that, I was holding a very loud small pink thing while AltFather prepared the next bottle.  In between, I would have a go at feeding her myself, although it wasn’t working very well.  She got frustrated and I got sore.  She yelled every time I picked her up.  Once, when she was sleeping, I lay on my bed and looked at her in her plastic tank on wheels next to me, and thought:
“I’m not really allowed to touch you, am I?”

It was then that a few lines from a song popped into my head:

“All I do is miss you, and the way we used to be… all I do is keep the beat and bad company… all I do is kiss you, through the bars of a rhyme…”

I was only “allowed” to touch my baby with something in between us, I felt.  The bars of a rhyme?  The plastic bottle, the swaddled flailing arms… handing her over when she got too worked up… it made me sob.  No prizes for the first to guess that this song (which betrays my soft rock roots!) is “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits.
There are two other lines in that song that I couldn’t get out of my head:

“I love you like the stars above and I’ll love you till I die” (oh my goodness, isn’t that just the truth?), and
“you exploded into my heart”  I just felt that every time I looked at her, my heart got bigger and bigger!

We came home from hospital eventually, and we got the hang of the feeding and the holding and bonding.  I put Dire Straits on the CD player and played it loud (not too loud I promise) as I rocked and bounced my lovely baby.  Sometimes I played it when I was just so happy to look at her and know she was mine, sometimes I played it when the hormones were raging and tears streamed down my face as I sniffed my way through the words.  It really became a song for me and her.

One day, AltFather came home from work to find us rocking out to the guitar solo (ok, me rocking out, AltD1 staring at me from her bouncy chair).  When he stopped laughing at my air guitar he hammered the air drums alongside me, crazy fools that we are, entertaining our perplexed three month old.  He told me that on the day we were married, as he walked to the church, that song was drifting down to the street from an upstairs window in one of the houses he passed… definitely a song for our new little family.

Nearly three years later, AltD2 arrived.  I had been worried before she was born that I wouldn’t be able to love her as much as I adored AltD1.  It couldn’t be possible, surely?  Then she stormed into my life and I was bowled over.  But not immediately.  It probably took me until she was 8 weeks old or so to make that unbreakable connection.  During that time there was a song I kept hearing on the radio.  All through my pregnancy it had been rising in the music charts and getting a lot of airtime. 

It’s a Bob Dylan song, but now made famous (and sounding so much nicer in my opinion!) by Adele.  “To Make you Feel My Love”.

The lyrics are presumably meant for a lover, but they are so pertinent and poignant for a new mother, even second time around.
“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
No there is nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love”  
Once again – isn’t that just the truth?  My hormone-laden self certainly thought so.  I’ve played it to AltD2, whispered the words to her in the deep dark night, and really, honestly, meant every word of it.
I would love to hear if you have special songs for your babies, or any special family members… please do leave me a comment and share the story.  You’ll have to wait until September to see the finished (I hope!) birthday project, but I hope it’s going to turn out really special.

Bright Blessings to You, New Mother

I have been struggling with a bit of writer’s block this week, trying to pick the right topic for discussion.  I thought I would share something that’s becoming a local phenomenon where I live:  The Blessingway.

Having babies, going to war, same thing, right?

Not quite, but in Native American traditions, the preparations are similar.  Last weekend I gathered with a group of women for a version of the Blessingway ceremony.  My friend (let’s call her Margaret) is expecting a baby, her first, who will be born some time in the next few days.  Needless to say, anticipation is running high! The women who attended the Blessingway are all friends of the mother-to-be, and we came together to give her our blessings and share our hopes for her over the coming days, weeks and years.  We lit candles, read poems and wove a bracelet for each of us.  The time we spent was special, and hopefully Margaret drew strength from it.  Hopefully she will continue to do so. 

The blessingway tradition is not widely known about, and it contrasts with the usual kind of baby shower, giving soon-to-be mothers an opportunity to be a little introspective and to be made a fuss of.  Both of these things seem to vapourise as soon as baby arrives, so maybe it also serves as a kind of “last hurrah” to the woman as a single being, before she no longer has an “Inside Baby” as Margaret puts it! It’s a chance for the woman’s “Tribe” to celebrate who she is, and the amazing journey of motherhood she is about to embark upon.

I have now attended three blessingways, one of which was my own for the arrival of Alt.D2.  Each has been different, somehow reflecting the groups of women involved, but each time I have experienced a really strong sense of how spiritual we can be when we light a few candles and focus our thoughts.
“Are you doing witchcraft in there?”  Alt.Father’s question with one eyebrow raised… not quite, but it is a bit magical.
I sought a bit of help with the planning of Margaret’s blessingway from Shari Maser’s excellent book, full of ideas and suggestions of things to include.  For example, we each brought a bead with us, which were put together on a necklace for Margaret to wear or look at and be reminded that we were all thinking of her.  We passed a ball of yarn around, weaving bracelets which Margaret tied for us.  So now I have a piece of purple yarn wrapped round my wrist like a teenage friendship bracelet, and every time it catches my eye, I think of Margaret.  All the women present that evening are wearing the same kind of bracelet, and we’ll remove them only after the baby is born.

The practical preparations we make for birth are many: clothes, nappies, somewhere for the baby to sleep, plans for where it will be born… we put a lot of energy into that side of things.  A blessingway helps to remind all present that motherhood is about to begin.  And as Margaret said so succinctly, being somebody’s mum “is a very big thing – it’s massive”.  I agree totally – it is the hardest job I have ever done, but equally the most rewarding.

While we’re waiting for the baby to put in an appearance, here’s a poem that was read at Alt.D2’s blessingway, and at Margaret’s:

Bright Blessings to you, New Mother!!
“Sacred Mother
I hear you calling
Sacred Mother
I share your voice
Sacred Mother
I know your secrets
Sacred Mother
I’ve made my choice 

Blessed passage
Through the window
Blessed falling
From life’s great tree
My arms wait here
To receive you
Sacred Child
Blessed Be!”


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