Selfie - goofy
Inner Light - being blessed
Message to women everywhere — “There’s a season for everything. Be present in the season you’re in. Collect your tribe of women as you journey through life.”
In a circle of a dozen mothers, Gail Fiock sits, leaning forward. She speaks with her eyes and hands. She listens with her whole body. She is laughing and instigating more laughter. A registered nurse who specializes in postpartum care, Gail has worked with mothers and babies for over three decades. Mothers with their newborns come to Gail’s support group. In one arm, the mamas bring their imploded diaper bags, clunky infant carseats and bumps-into-everything strollers. In the other arm, they hold for-dear-life their ridiculously helpless and infinitely demanding babies. These mere two-armed, mortal mothers with their thousand-armed, deity-spirits come asking how to get their babies to latch properly, sleep through the night and take the bottle. They discuss how to stay in sync with their life partners while creating space in the relationship for a baby. They grapple and often cry over how not to lose their minds when their bodies, hearts and souls are consumed by motherhood. With her spritely warmth, Gail gathers the circle. She offers practical advice and fosters community.
Gail has mothered her five grown children and now grandmothers two little ones with more on the way. Professionally, Gail has worked with families in childbirth education, prenatal exercises, lactation, mom and baby yoga, sibling preparation and toddler classes. She loves empowering mothers and helping them see themselves as capable nurturers. She says, “Becoming a parent is so hard. I want new mothers to know it’s okay, whatever happens, you’re going to get through this.” She has supported countless families from diverse backgrounds, with mothers and grandmothers who bring different postpartum practices. Skilled at navigating cultural and generational differences, Gail says, “You must embrace the grandmas. Or dads or aunties or nannies who all have the best intentions. Everybody wants to do what they believe is right for the baby.” Gail is a stabilizing force for family members finding their footing in new roles. “I listen carefully, and I don’t take myself too seriously,” Gail says. “I work with the whole family to empower the mom so that both her needs and the baby’s needs are met. I can do that because I don’t have an agenda other than accepting a family where it’s at.” Gail channels everyone’s focus towards what they do best and redirect energies that can be of most service to nurturing the baby and caring for the mother.
Gail works with mothers — young moms, older moms, moms who give birth after long struggles with infertility, moms with tongue-tied babies, moms struggling to nurse, moms who've been physically abused. During a time when new mothers feel tremendous pressure to give their babies the best care, Gail assures them there’s no bad or wrong way. "Give yourself permission to do what’s right for you. There’s no judgment. And take care of yourself first. You have to refill your cup before you can dole out to your babies.” Cutting through the expectations set upon and internalized by mothers around the right — or only —ways to nurture, Gail simply says, “You are doing awesome, already!”
Gail points out that self-care and self-compassion are very hard for mothers. She acknowledges this was true for her as well. “It took getting to some time in my fifties to realize that I’m not going to be good at everything, and really being OK with that. Getting older and wiser has made it easier to embrace myself.” For Gail, refilling her cup means taking time to work on her garden, taking a long walk with a girlfriend or practicing yoga. She also finds great joy in playing with her grandchildren. Now that her sons and daughters have families of their own, she watches with pride, and supports where appropriate, the ways for her family members to tune into each other. Gail believes that when there is care for and self-care by mothers, everyone in the family flourishes. So how can we embrace ourselves and practice self-care? One way, Gail says, “Your girlfriends, who are also working hard at their lives and building their families, hang on to them. Support each other through all the stages, and you’ll still be there for each other when the children leave the nest. Collect your tribe of women as you journey through life.”
Mothers who have worked with Gail are full of gratitude. They shower her with adoration. They say, “There’s nothing like Gail's circle of moms. Gail has done this for so long, but somehow she manages to make my concerns seem new and unique to me and my baby. Gail has a wonderful way of being knowledgeable without being overwhelming. When she shares her experience and expertise, there’s no judgment. She takes the pressure away.” Amidst the swaddling, shushing, swaying, nursing, diaper-changing, body-wearing, rocking and crying. Through the commotion of tending to life's beginnings, Gail creates a force field of calm and comfort. Inside this field, mothers catch a breath. Long and big enough to sustain life.
Photos from HERliograph