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Sara Brinkley-Tow

Sara Binkley-Tow

In 2005, I spent the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy like a 44-year-old whale, beached on the living room sofa, staring at North Vancouver’s panoramic ocean view while tears carved meandering riverbeds down my cheeks.

The shrill scream of a fire alarm could not have moved me.

I kept remembering how my small-town family doctor had once warned me—twenty-five years previously—not to marry a large man.

I suppose when I fell into the hulking arms of my six-foot-five-inch future husband, I had forgotten that.

In my third trimester, I often imagined I felt Lizzie’s elbows jutting out my back as her feet attacked my bladder like a reincarnated striker for a World Cup soccer team.

When she was born, I realized—on a profoundly grass-roots level—how much I needed my long-dead mother.

Not only had my mother dissipated on the winds of time, but our local extended family consisted of a thirty-year old nephew with better things to do than babysit a freshly C-sectioned middle-aged aunt with a baby and a toddler– and there wasn’t exactly a scrum of the rest of the remaining family members fighting for the last cross-continental red-eye ticket so they could stay and support.

Retrospectively, I realized that I was in a deep funk that—had I the strength to crawl into a doctor’s office—would have been clinically diagnosed as perinatal depression.

How different it might have been, had there been a mother, an aunt, a sister—a wise woman to help me. Anyone to offer respite and sanctuary.

But the bitter truth is that, the older we are, the less likely we are to have that supportive family available.

Sara Brinkley-Tow, Executive Director of MomsBloom (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org/) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, might have been my ministering angel of mercy, had we known each other at the time.

Binkley-Tow, a Certified Postpartum Doula with a Masters in Family Studies, had the inspiration to launch a ground-breaking non-profit entity with a mission to “provide physical and emotional support” in the home for families of newborns.

Officially launched in February 2008, MomsBloom (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org/) was inspired by Binkley-Tow’s experience with her son’s hospitalization with serious illness and her own journey through post-partum depression.

“As a postpartum doula, I felt uncomfortable asking for money for a service that I felt should be naturally provided” she says.

Binkley-Tow is quick to point out that MomsBloom (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org) is not a new concept.

“Years ago, it was easy for extended family to provide support because they often lived in the same town or neighborhood.

“I have worked with moms over 40” she continues, “and although they struggle with the same issues as their younger counterparts, there are some differences.”

She goes on to highlight key issues that older mothers face, from the transition to motherhood after having an established career, less energy, more anxiety about caring for their baby, as well as often having to care for aging parents on top of it all.

Eager to provide volunteer support to new mothers of all ages, Binkley-Tow recruited two other moms to start MomsBloom (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org/).

“We realized there was a need in the community and the best way to get started was to serve families” explains Binkley-Tow.

The group filed for and acquired 501(c)(3) (non profit) status, established a name, and started recruiting volunteers.

According to Binkley-Tow, “We are fortunate to live in an incredibly supportive community. People were willing to help and lend a hand in our development.”

Since launching, Momsbloom (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org/)—whose funding comes from “foundation, fundraisers and private donations”—has served over 100 families in the Kent County, MI, area with plans to expand into Lansing.

Binkley-Tow’s vision is driven by her Flourishing Families program, which matches trained volunteers, “passionate about the bond between mother and baby”, with families in need.

However, the latest jewel in the crown of MomsBloom (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org/) is the 1st  annual Celebration of Wine, Women and Song which they hosted in May 2011, in partnership with Grand Rapids Women’s Health, to raise awareness for postpartum depression (PPD) and further funding for MomsBloom (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org/).

“PPD awareness is a huge passion of mine—I’m a survivor” says Sara Binkley-Tow.

Links for this blog:

Sara Binkley-Tow, MA, CIMI, CHBE, PCD(DONA)
Executive Director
http://www.momsbloom.org (http://www NULL.momsbloom NULL.org/)
“Your extended family for the 21st century!”
Out Came the Sun 5K Run or Walk is Saturday, May 1st 2010

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2 Responses to And Out Came The Sun

  1. InSeason Mom says:

    As a regular reader, I always look forward to your addressing relevant issues.It’s good to know that an organization like MomsBloom exists!

  2. Sara Binkley-Tow says:

    Thank you for the beautifully written blog about MomsBloom (and the comment from InSeason Mom). I feel so fortunate to have so many wonderful and supportive people in my life. I hope many more are inspired to take on this rewarding journey to support families in their communities. I’m here to help.

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