Mother walking with nesting days carrie

And they all went to the sea shore...

My holiday story of hope and renewal...

I miss my mom most at Christmas. She loved movies, and one of her favorites was Never on Sunday (1960), a movie about a spirited young woman named Ilya who maintains a positive worldview despite living in difficult circumstances. Ilya would retell the endings to her favorite Greek tragedies with the happy conclusion,“And they all went to the seashore.”

My mother, ever the optimist, loved this line. Whenever a story needed retelling, she would repeat it to my siblings and I. It became a philosophy and a promise of hers: 'that whatever challenge we might be facing, we’d all eventually go to the seashore. That no matter what was in our present, joy and renewal were waiting for us just around the corner.'

I’ve been to the seashore many times in my life. When I gave birth to my first son in the late 1960s, it was a different world. All newborns were routinely taken to the nursery for a 24 hour observation period immediately post-birth. Separation was considered normal then. But to me it felt unkind, even cruel. Instinct told me that we needed to be together when he was so new and vulnerable to the world.

When I gave birth to my second son seven years later, in a peaceful birthing center surrounded by midwives and loved ones, I made sure that he was placed in my arms and at my breast minutes after he was born. The experience was healing for me. I had returned to the seashore.

The way I brought my two sons into this world forever changed me, and ultimately led me to become a doula after spending years in the apparel industry. I became a fierce advocate for mothers to have the greatest amount of voice reasonably possible in deciding how to birth their babies. I became educated on the powerful and transformative effect of touch in babies’ development and on mothers’ health. And I became certain that my life’s work was to help mothers and babies ease their way into this world together during the critical “fourth trimester.” This is how I arrived at Nesting Days. And at almost 70 years old, my life’s work is far from over.

Our Nesting Days village has grown leaps and bounds over the past year. As I reflect on what the past year means for us, I continue to come back to that simple analogy of the seashore. Nesting Days exists to lead mothers and newborns to a place of joy and renewal. It exists to support babies who have been birthed and mothers who have been rebirthed. And my own personal journey will continue to lead me back to the seashore with these mothers. I return there every time I see a mother and baby in our carrier; every time I see a newborn beginning their journey in this world in the most hopeful of places—their mothers’ arms. I return there again and again, because as humans we must continue hoping, healing when we are broken, and looking for joy around the corner. What easier and more beautiful way is there to do that than when we're welcoming a new soul into this world?

Wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful 2017 filled hope, joy, and renewal.

Julie Arvan

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