“From the outside you’d never know. By all appearances it would be impossible to tell. If I had a nickel for all the times I’ve been told, ‘You have the perfect family!’ I assure you we’d have a whole lot of nickels. That’s what people say when they see two boys and two girls, my little ducks in a row, following me through the grocery store, or playing at the park, or rushing to the church nursery. What they don’t see, and what no one can see, is that there are also four children of mine who aren’t with me. You see, before I was blessed with my amazing, incredible four children, my husband and I experienced loss after loss after loss.” This is the beginning of a blog post written by Jessi Bridges, called “Appearances Are Deceiving: A Story Of Loss And Hope.”
Many women experience stories similar to Jessi Bridges, but feel too uncomfortable or awkward sharing them. The Motherhood Collective is a non-profit organization that was created to help support and nurture women throughout and after pregnancy. The organization brings women together and supports them through “both the dark and sunshiny days of motherhood – recognizing that not all roads to motherhood look the same.”
The Motherhood Collective began in a small café on January 10, 2011. As Lauren Barnes, the Executive Director of the organization, explains in a blog, “Each year I recall the freezing cold temperatures and the lack of experience our small team of five possessed as we launched our first program in a warehouse (temporarily without heat); we had 12 women in attendance that first day. We couldn’t have given you a mission statement, a catchy tagline, or a polished elevator pitch, but we each knew something had to change. We knew someone had to improve the mental, physical, and emotional well being of women from preconception to postpartum. Our small team of five saw a need, and we embraced our responsibility.”
The program offers community classes such as the Healthy Mama Self Care Series, which provides an educational workshop on healthy snacks, self massage techniques, mindfulness, and positive thinking. The class ends with 30 minutes of meditation. The organization also offers a six-week pilates class called Postpartum Core Connections.
Mama’s on the Move is both a weekend and weekday program, which features a walking group that helps women foster healthy habits and form relationships. The organization offers other community classes like Family Meal Planning on a Budget and Healing Through Art.
The Motherhood Collective also provides peer support groups. There is a support group for women experiencing postpartum and perinatal mood disorder (PPMD) and another for women experiencing infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss. Both programs offer hour-long sessions, twice a month.
In order to get involved with The Motherhood Collective, you can volunteer, or visit the website to learn more about the programs and classes they offer. The calendar will provide you with all the times and dates for each group meeting and program. You can also offer your support by shopping for shirts, cards, and totes on their website. As their website states, “There will always be a warm cup of coffee and someone to listen to your story.”
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