A life better shared

A life better shared
Rebecca Comini

Rebecca Comini

Rebecca is a mother and journalist

If it takes a village to raise a child – as the proverb says – how do parents find their village in a modern world? And is one village enough?

When I was pregnant with my twins, I was a sponge for information on anything and everything on the early stages of motherhood. I read many pregnancy books, took antenatal classes at the hospital and even convinced my partner to attend an all-day class on breastfeeding!


I was prepped as well as I could be for the impending births of my twins, but I hadn’t given much thought to the support I’d need after they were born. My sons were born four weeks early. They were relatively healthy, but their prematurity required a 10-day stay in the hospital’s special care nursery. This meant I had to leave them at the hospital when I was discharged and I returned home to an empty house.


After kissing our babies goodbye, my partner and I walked out of the hospital together. I waited by the entrance while he went to get our car from the car park. It was the first time I’d been alone in days and I wasn’t prepared for the wave of grief I’d experience at the thought of coming home without my boys, albeit only temporarily.


By chance, the assistant priest from my parish arrived at the hospital for his regular chaplaincy round and noticed me sobbing by the door. He too was unprepared for my sadness and could offer only small words of comfort. I needed to talk to someone who knew what it was like to leave their babies behind. I needed to hear real-life stories on how to cope with caring for two babies when they did get home. I needed to know practical things that only mums of multiples would understand.


I needed my village.


So, I turned on my computer and found my village online. I joined a forum for multiple-birth parents, where I could connect with people who knew what it was like trying to establish feeding and sleep routines for two and how to juggle bathing more than one newborn without drama. The forum members had multiples at all different ages and stages – from newborn like me, up to late teens – and everyone was happy to share tips, swap stories, celebrate milestones or just to listen about the tough days when everything seemed too hard.


I poured my heart out in my first post and over the next few months, I asked a thousand questions about my babies and how to be a parent. Replies would come from across the country with great advice or sympathetic understanding. My online village was established.


The forum was a godsend to me, and now, almost a decade on, I’m still in contact with many of the twin mums I met online.

When my sons were a month old, an invitation arrived in my letterbox from the local council, inviting me to attend a six-week new parents’ class, more commonly known as a mother’s group. There, I found my local village.


Nine nervous mothers and 10 rowdy babies met at local hall under the care of an early childhood expert, who gave us tips and led discussion on what our babies had been getting up to each week.


Our babies were born within four weeks of each other, so we discussed their weekly milestones over a cup of tea. When the formal meetings ended, we kept meeting weekly for a year for support and fun.


This local support was essential to me because it got me out of the house – not always an easy task with two babies in tow – and I could see I wasn’t the only mum in town suffering from a lack of sleep! Beautiful friendships developed between the mothers and our growing children.


We no longer meet, and I have moved out of the area, but I still keep in contact with many of the mothers through social media and if we do meet, it is as if no time has passed at all – except that our children are getting taller by the minute.


Social media also helped me find a third village, in the form of an Australian online prayer and support group for Catholic mums of young, growing families. On this Facebook page, we talk about our faith and the challenges of raising our children in a secular world. We pray for each other too, with many daily posts seeking help in our lives and many requests have been answered through the prayers of the group.


Sometimes we joke that our little Facebook group is like a hotline to Heaven! I also found brilliant support in the form of friends and my extended family. When I was offered help with cooking, cleaning or even just holding my babies while I took time to have a shower, I accepted without hesitation.


If my children were born today, I believe I may have joined another Australian based village established “by mothers, for mothers” known as The Mother Effect. This initiative aims put “the ‘hood’ in motherhood” through building the domestic church – connecting mothers with each other while keeping Christ and their children at the centre.


As founder Carrie McCormack explains on the Mother Effect website, the group’s mission is to empower families to become “effective communicators of the gospel to their children”.


“It started as an online group offering mothers support and prayers with a weekly play group for mothers and children. It grew to become a motherhood formation group with play, study, prayer and action elements,” Carrie says.


My villages have helped me stay grounded whenever I felt at sea with the upheaval that having children brought to my previously ordered and calm life. I strongly recommend expectant parents take time to find their own village, or villages. Collective wisdom, support and concrete help go a long way to breaking post-natal isolation and the feeling of cluelessness that having a newborn – or newborns – can bring.


Life is better when it is shared.


Footnote: This article appears in the third book of the Becoming Parents – A Spiritual Journey Series and is titled The Home Stretch. The four issues are available for $20. Consider gifting the four books to someone close to you. Details can be found at www.majellan.media or www.becomingparents.org.au

Spiritual Moment

In the early months of your baby’s life, you will spend countless hours

gazing in love, nursing, cuddling and rocking to sleep.

You will perhaps marvel at how limitless you love for this child is,

what delight you take in this tiny person,

how much you cherish and delight in him/her.

In one of those moments, when your baby is asleep in your arms,

can you go into that deeper place within

 and hear your Creator God whispering to you? 

 “Your love for this child is just a shadow of how I feel about you!

You are as precious to me as this baby is to you.

If only you could rest in me with as much trust

as your child rests now in your arms.

Please believe I love you and delight in you too.”

Sue Barker sgs


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