Sometimes unlikely places spark very special friendships.
Last year, I went to meet a woman I had never met before as part of the first Mother’s Day Connect experience. I had organised the group, phoned the hospitals, done the media interviews and yet, as I travelled up in the lift at Karl Bremer with my mother, the butterflies in my stomach fluttered like crazy.
Who would I be meeting? What would this mom think of me? Would my visit be welcomed or seen as an intrusion?
Even for an extrovert like me, an intimate connection with a stranger is a fairly daunting task. As my nerves stirred, I reminded myself that I was meeting a fellow woman and a fellow mom. We would definitely have those two things in common. Even if we couldn’t understand each other’s language, I felt hopeful that our shared motherhood could be communicated through smiles and gestures.
As it turns out, I had absolutely nothing to worry about.
The first thing I noticed about Sandisiwe were her bright red, perfectly pedicured toenails. She lay regal in her hospital bed with little Lulo on her chest. Her beautiful braids swept up on top of her head and she was smiling. It was very difficult for me to believe that she had given birth to a baby just hours earlier (a point my mother and I couldn’t stop telling her – she looked amazing -we thought it was actually a bit unfair that someone could look that good after just pushing out a human being!).
We introduced ourselves, we listened, we shared our birth stories, we laughed, we marveled at Lulo’s ten tiny fingers and toes. As I watched Sandi cradling Lulo at her breast, I fondly remembered my own introductions to Motherhood and the familiar weight of a newborn on your chest. In the car on our ride home, my mother commented that she felt the same thing – meeting Sandisiwe transported her back 30 years to the emotional high and sweet naivety of new motherhood.
At the end of our visit, I felt incredibly honoured (and a bit emotional) to have met Sandisiwe and to have shared the smallest moment at the very start of her motherhood story. Encouraging her encouraged me in more ways than I could have expected. We exchanged contact numbers, and well, here we are one year in to our unlikely friendship and feeling very grateful to still be journeying as mothers together.
I asked Sandisiwe if she would be willing to share the experience from her point of view. Here are her answers:
Tell us a bit about the day your daughter was born. How were you feeling?
At first I was so scared, having no idea how it feels to be a mom and not even sure how to hold her because she was so small. That day was both the scariest and the best and most special day of my life. I had no idea I was carrying a daughter and that was also a big surprise! She is the most precious thing to me.
Can you tell us the meaning of her name?
Her name is Lulo Lubone. It’s actually 2 different names, meaning “Behold the love of God”. It was really God’s love for her be born. God has been showing love to me all my life but through her I really got to see the true and pure love of God.
You were at Karl Bremer when we did our first Mother’s Day Connect visit. How did the visit make you feel?
I felt so honoured. I was not expecting anything like that but your visit and your presence made me loosen up a bit. I got to see that not only my family cares about me, but also people around me – people I haven’t met before are actually there for me. You taught me true love to mankind and I wish to pass that kind of love on to others.
Was it awkward receiving visitors you didn’t know? Did it get better after you started talking (it’s okay, you can be honest ;))
(Laughing…) It was kind of awkward but it was also a pleasant surprise. It’s always good meeting new people and getting to make a conversation with them. I just wish my baby was old enough to see the love that you showed her that day. I got to realise that there are good people out there and I hope the Lord blesses you for that.
Our dream is to ensure that every new mom who gives birth on Mother’s Day is visited by other women who care. What do you think about this?
This is an awesome idea, being visited on Mother’s day , especially after giving birth to your first child, is what every new mother needs. This actually gives the mother a realisation that “I am really a mom now” – that’s how I felt that day. I knew then how to show love and support to my baby from the day she was born onwards.
How important is encouragement and kind words to new moms?
Being a mom for the first time is so scary! You have to think about so many things, and some people even end up leaving their babies there in hospital because they don’t know how they are going to look after their babies. Kind words of encouragement to a new mom helps a lot. It helps a new mom to realise that their child’s birth can actually be the best day instead of the worst. It helps new moms to actually see things differently and know that there are other women and moms who are there for her and the baby – other women who are there to help her if she has questions about looking after her new baby. Getting to hear the other mother’s experiences of being a first-time mom makes one ease up a bit and realise how great it is to be a mom.
What would you say to women who are keen to volunteer for Mother’s Day Connect 2017, but are feeling shy or awkward about visiting a new mom they don’t know?
Go for it!!! Even if it feels awkward, do it. You might be helping another soul there. She might not say it but that is the best gift anyone could ever give. Just get there and show her some love. That’s all any woman needs to start their motherhood journey.
Any words of encouragement for pregnant moms who are expecting their first babies soon?
A baby is the best give given to mankind by God; the worst days are over now. You are about to receive the most precious thing ever. Wait for it and you will never regret it. Your days will be lightened every morning you see that precious angel. And oh…..Congratulations new moms!!!!