The Strength of Hope Series is a collection of interviews sharing the strength and hope of women who have experienced infertility, loss, high-risk pregnancy, preterm birth and other similar situations. We aim to inspire and uplift you with their real life experiences and wisdom from their own journey of growing their family.
Early Childhood Specialist
Tell us about the children in your arms and in your heart.
I have a daughter, Tess, who I fought really hard for. Two years of IVF and a very hard birth and there were moments I wasn't sure I'd ever hold her. Now that she's here, she's everything I ever hoped for and more. When she was 14 months, I had the biggest surprise of my life when we surprisingly got pregnant with another baby girl. I can't wait to meet the one in my belly in November. I go through many days where I wait for the other shoe to drop and for it to not actually happen because I just can't believe it. That hasn't happened yet. So far, she's a healthy 20 weeks in utero!
What was the most challenging time of your family-building journey?
Going through fertility treatments. I was emotional and moody and had very little hope at times. I thought that would be the hardest part but actual motherhood was even harder (although much more joyful).
Who and what did you rely on to help you have hope during some of your darkest, hardest days of your family-building journey?
Other moms. I truly attribute my daughter to the moms who helped guide me through IVF, who helped me advocate for myself and who supported me in my darkest moments and told me to keep going. I also rely on them every single day to help me in motherhood. I wrote a piece for a friend's blog and this was what I said "My village is every mom out there. Becoming a mom created this invisible string where I feel connected to every mom in the world. I can be struggling anywhere, and the moment a mom sees that I'm also a mom, there's this unspoken connection that exists. Suddenly, we're helping one another carry a stroller up the subway steps, holding each other's baby while lifting our bag into the overhead compartment of an airplane, or rescuing each other's frozen milk stash when our freezer breaks and we're out of the country (true story!). My village is the understood "mom tribe" that we all create together.
What does being strong mean to you?
Asking for help. A tribe is stronger than any single person alone.
What does being strong NOT mean to you?
Trying to do it all alone.
Do you believe you have to have hope in order to be strong or can you find strength without hope?
I think that you have to have hope, even a sliver. The hope is what makes you strong enough to keep going.
What strengths did you learn you had during your family-building journey that you had not realized you had?
Immense physical strength! Also, the ability to keep going despite the hiccups emotionally and physically.
What strengths did you gain because of what you’ve been through on your family-building journey?
The ability to accept and ask for help and lean on others.
How has your family-building journey changed how you find and experience strength and hope?
My husband and I are so much closer and more open because of it. It prepared him for fatherhood before we physically held our daughter because he was able to accept the uncertainty of parenthood and that we have very little control over much of it.
Too often hope and strength are equated with "never giving up" when saying no can be the ultimate act of strength. What have you learned through your family-building journey about saying no?
I've learned about saying no and learned how to be attuned to my body to turn things down. I also know how important it is to put myself and my family first. It's helped me even as a mom and given me the ability and courage to say no if it's something that doesn't work for us as a whole.
What is your favorite quote about strength or hope during challenging times?
"Strength doesn't come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't."
What are you reading right now?
If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 items would you have with you?
Pen and paper, blow pops, hair rollers
I wish: moms and moms to be had more support.
I have: a support system/village called Union Square Play.
I am: happiest playing.
For women who are currently going through what you have been through, what are your words of hope?
"Go with your gut." My mom told me this and in my gut I always knew I'd be a mom, that helped me through the darkest, hardest moments.
More about Jennie: I began my career in early childhood 12 years ago as a teacher to children 2 years old. I then went on to become an Educational Director of several early childhood centers for 8 years, creating programs that used research-based best practices. About a year ago, I decided to take a decades worth of knowledge in early childhood education, and share it with new parents to educate and empower them through my blog Mo' Mommies. I teach classes, speak at events, and use social media, to provide timely information about my own parenting and toy recommendations that new parents deeply need and desire. My aim has been for moms to connect, support and empower one another, and to learn how to allow their children to play in the most enriching way. I co-founded a play space, Union Square Play, to bring these ideas to life through developmental, sensory, music and creative classes in addition to a thoughtful open play space. My methods center around open-ended play materials and objects, so that babies can be engaged rather than entertained, creating their own "curriculum" and learning in the most natural, innate way!