This month, in the Luxmama Blog – we are thrilled to republish with permission, a beautiful piece written originally in Greek for The Mamagers by one of our beloved volunteers, Elfi Koufogeorgou. Enjoy!
Elfi Koufogeorgou, Luxembourg
In early 2016 I was coming out victorious from a delayed, or more appropriately, a belatedly accepted postpartum depression, combined with burnout. Even today, many people in my social circle don’t know it, not because I feel uncomfortable talking about it, but because my life has moved on a lot since then.
Two things really helped me to move forward (besides the support of the people very close to me): writing and the LUXMAMA CLUB.
Even though I could simply say that this club is essentially a support group in Luxembourg, addressed at new parents, potential parents, pregnant women and young mothers, I will give you some further details for inspiration and because when you are away from your homeland, being a member or volunteer in an organisation like that makes you a better person.
This group started out from a mother, like you and me, who having worked for many years in a large private corporation in Luxembourg decided to quit and focus on her passion. She became certified as a Holistic Maternity & Sleep Coach. What do these things mean?
Unfortunately, I had no idea what they meant during both of my pregnancies. I found out much later, after the period I described in the beginning.
It means that when you are pregnant you are not alone. There is someone who will tell you about your rights during childbirth for example (there is a lot of misinformation and intimidation on many subjects relating to that); someone who will properly prepare you for your new role as a mother, who will support you emotionally, will teach you everything about healthy diet for your baby past the first 6 months, will help you find a first aid seminar, will explain to you if you are a foreigner what exactly applies to the new place you have arrived, regarding pregnancy and childbirth, how to find the right doctor and hospital, etc.
They will also help you with all the chaos of choosing the right products for your baby, how to calm it, massage it, and many more. And all that aiming at keeping you happy, healthy and enthusiastic about your pregnancy, so you can welcome in the best possible way the new human being you are bringing to life.
This mama didn’t stop there, however. She also created the LUXMAMA CLUB. A team of female volunteers who stand by mothers and parents in every moment. When I saw they were recruiting volunteers, I contacted her without a second thought. A new world of experiences and emotions opened in front of me. Having worked for years in big companies and international institutions, I had never thought (and I admit it) to offer something voluntarily to other people. Of course, that kept me prisoner of many stereotypes, like “who cares?”, “everything is fake”, “why bother without getting paid?”, “you’re doing it to show off instead of helping”. How wrong I was, and how happy I am that all those stereotypes collapsed inside me. I remain a full-time employee of course, mother of two girls and a Labrador, and an active wife. But now I devote much of my free time, together with fellow volunteers, to other mamas who are stressed about their pregnancy, have thousands (millions) of questions about giving birth, breastfeeding, raising their children, and so on.
Besides all that, the most important thing is that we organise (either for free or with a very low cost, just in order to cover basic expenses and rent) meetings, excursions, seminars and meetups. Mothers (and fathers) come over and we discuss, laugh, cry, share, learn, eat, feel and exchange experiences.
Babies are breastfed, children are free to play, eat, laugh, cry, and all together like a big family we confront motherhood, fatherhood and all that comes with it, full of courage and smiles.
We usually have a key speaker, who will provide valuable tips on a variety of subjects (breastfeeding, baby massage, child psychology, nutrition, but also make up artists and stylists, so that mothers can feel and be beautiful both on the inside and outside).
Of course, there are also certain terms, for example promoting healthy diet, that’s why you’ll rarely see us eating at a Pizza Hut or fast food place. All the delicacies we offer in our meetings are homemade by volunteers.
What have I learned from all this? That it is wonderful to share, to assist and be assisted, to spend your grey days with people who are there to help you and say something sweet without expecting any reward.
We recently organised a family day in one of the most beautiful parks in Luxembourg. Many families from different ethnicities, others with many children and others with a single parent, two dads, two moms, one child, everyone was there. A big hug all together! Laughter, games, picnic and carelessness were the characteristics of that beautiful day. At some point, a little child around four years old comes and tells me in French: “It’s nice here!”
“Yes, it’s nice!”
More about the Author:
In between managing a full time role in an international organization and raising 2 young children, Elfi loves to do volunteer work in her community and connect with expecting and new parents. She is passionate about using social media to raise awareness and has a particular soft spot for breastfeeding. She is the Facebook Group Administrator & Manager at the Luxmama Club & ParentPrep asbl. She also recently launched the LuxKids Lab Facebook Page to raise awareness on STEM activities for children.