When asked what she finds most challenging about being a new mum, Aamiina* replies with all the new-mum challenges you would expect to hear; breastfeeding, learning your baby’s tired/full/hungry signs, sleep deprivation — oh the sleep deprivation!
Anyone who’s ever been a new mum could tell you how overwhelming these challenges can be.
Yet Aamiina doesn’t seem overwhelmed. And you would certainly never guess that her pregnancy and the birth of her baby girl heralded a dramatic change in her life circumstances.
At 24 years old, five weeks into adjusting to motherhood, Aamiina is remarkably articulate and entertaining. She talks with love, insight and good humour about what becoming a mum has meant for her.
It belies the challenging and often lonely journey she’s been on. When Aamiina was referred to Birth for Humankind she was living alone in youth accommodation, having made the difficult decision to disconnect from her family and community for the well-being of her and her baby.
Aamiina recalls, “it was a scary time, but it was also the right choice. It wasn’t a good environment to be in or be connected to. It was best for me to be alone, because I could take care of being at peace, especially being pregnant with her — she came first, always.”
She came first, always. This simple statement indicates, to a small degree, the extent of Aamiina’s resolve to bring her baby into a world full of love.
Despite feeling lonely and sometimes depressed, Aamiina read and researched, she sought whatever help she could, for the sake of her baby — who comes first, always.
When she was referred to Birth for Humankind’s free birth support program she said, “At the start I didn’t know what a doula was…at one point I thought my doula’s name was actually Adoula! And then she came over and she sat down and we went through making a birth plan. And she asked about what my feelings are and what kind of experience do I want. And her asking me that, I’m like oh, I am important.”
Sitting opposite Aamiina and her Birth for Humankind volunteer doula, Maison, it is immediately clear they share a deep bond. While Maison holds Aamiina’s sleeping baby, Aamiina talks about how “when I was there giving birth, she was like a voice for me. She knew everything [I wanted].”
It is a bond evidently built on mutual respect and a shared commitment to that beautiful sleeping baby. Aamiina refers to Maison as family. She says, “even though it’s her profession and it’s what she does…she is aunty Maison! She was touching my daughter when she was inside my belly and then she was there when she was born and now she is holding her again. And that is very important.
When Maison speaks about her work as a Birth for Humankind volunteer and a student midwife she talks about the importance of helping women to feel like they’re enough, that they are strong and capable.
There is no question that together, this is what Aamiina and Maison achieved. An act of true sisterhood.
And now Aamiina has hopes to one day act as a conduit to connect women in her community to services like Birth for Humankind’s. She knows what it’s like to feel alone and disconnected from your community and she understands how much the right kind of support can help.
For Aamiina, despite all she’s been through, despite juggling new motherhood, she feels positive and hopeful about the life she’s building. She says, I’m learning a lot. It’s a lot. But I feel happy. I feel at peace. Even though I know I’ve got all these other things floating around to deal with. But at the same time, I feel like it’s fresh. Like I’m a kid myself, starting from scratch.”
For her daughter, who she puts first, always — Aamiina wants more than anything “to be able to give to her love, so she can go out in the world one day and know what it feels like to be loved and respected. It’s very important for her to get all that, because who knows what she can be if she can be the best version of herself.”
*names have been changed to protect privacy