Mother's Day Musings

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We’re willing to bet that some of the most important women in your lives are mothers... whether mothers to human babies, or fur babies, or even plant babies, the journey of motherhood is something that bonds women together generation after generation.

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When I first became a mom (to a human baby) in 2015 to a beautiful, spirited baby girl, my whole world was rocked in a way I could never have anticipated. Nothing could have burst my bubble of ‘ignorance is bliss’ like having a fragile, innocent new life to protect.

Unwrapped Life founder, Hayley McKenzie, in maternity photoshoot. Image copyright: Sue Moodie Photography.

Me at 36 weeks pregnant with my second child, Malcolm. 
Captured by the always amazing Sue Moodie Photography.

I marvelled at her every coo and sigh while at the same time feeling like a completely different person than the one I knew before she was here. It was a bit of an identity crisis, to say the least. I embraced it all, but the feeling was strange and new and, some days, daunting! Because the love I felt was like no other: it terrified me in its fierceness and soothed me in its completeness at the same.  

Unwrapped Life co-founder as bridesmaid with Mother of the Bride

Unwrapped Life co-founder, Arden, at her sister, Allison's wedding with her mother, Diane. Diane is a breast cancer survivor and an inspiration to us all.

My appreciation and respect for women increased exponentially once my daughter was here. In the dark hours of night trying to figure out how to nurse and nourish my baby, or panicking about her breathing while she slept, I reflected on how my own mother likely sat vigil beside my crib, and how her mother likely did the same. I felt connected to the generations upon generations who carried new life inside them, then fought to help that new life survive and thrive through sleepless nights, searingly sore nipples and headache-inducing crying. 

Unwrapped Life CFO, Allison, with her daughter

Unwrapped Life's number cruncher extraordinaire, Allison, and her daughter, Emerson.

In fact, I looked at all walks of women differently after having had my first born. I saw a whole realm of power in each of us that mostly goes in unacknowledged or unappreciated. Whether you’ve had children, haven’t had children or can’t have children, our womanhood is magical and powerful in a way I couldn’t have comprehended prior to that phase of my life. And being a mother can take many different forms, all equally impressive and common in the desire to care, nurture and protect.

Unwrapped Life resident blogger, Haylee, and her mom Yvette.

Unwrapped Life resident blogger and supporter-extraordinaire, Haylee, and her mom, Yvette.

From my own personal experience, what struck me most about becoming a mom, was an awakened and increased sense of duty to ‘do the right thing.’ When the idea for Unwrapped Life was forming, bubbling to the surface over an undercurrent of post partum anxiety, I recall saying to my husband how I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye when they were older and say that they inspired me to be better, and do better. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I knew about the problem of plastic pollution and didn’t do anything about it. Or at the very least, I couldn’t have looked my kids in the eye later in life without feeling guilt.

Unwrapped Life founder, Hayley McKenzie, and her daughter at newborn photography shoot. Image copyright: Sue Moodie Photography.

Me with my first daughter at about a month old. Yes, there is spit up on my shirt, and no, I don't care! :) Captured by the incredible Sue Moodie Photography.

Being a mother changed my worldview. I now care less about what I wear and more about what the planet and people are going to be like in the coming decades and how that will impact my children. Now with two children, some weeks I barely look at myself in the mirror between caring for them and doing what I can with Unwrapped Life, but this time in my life is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention something that has defined my experience of motherhood. I know I talk a lot about the problems associated with plastic pollution, but today, I feel extremely grateful to live in a time where plastic is accessible and affordable. You see, I suffered from low milk supply (even with max dose galactogogue herbs and medications and feeding every 1.5-3 hours round the clock), which hindered my ability to provide all the nourishment my babies needed from my body alone. I was hell bent on successfully breastfeeding my two children, but after a scary weight loss with my first, I was forced to consider supplementing with formula or donor milk. But I was in a bind: if I offered a bottle, my milk supply would potentially gear-down, so instead, I opted to supplement my baby at the breast, using a brilliant but simple invention called a supplemental nursing system (or SNS), which consists of a plastic bag and feeding tube that is inserted into the baby’s mouth alongside the nipple. Mine is the Lact Aid SNS and I used it for almost every feeding for 14 months with my daughter, and I’m going strong on 7 months with my son. I actually tear up thinking about the amazing, yet sometimes difficult, experience I have had with nursing to this point. Using the SNS is second nature now, but it isn’t lost in me that I’m so reliant, and my baby is too, ever day on a material that can be such an unbelievable blessing and a curse.

Unwrapped Life founder, Hayley McKenzie, and her son Malcolm breastfeeding. Image copyright: Sue Moodie Photography.

Me nursing my son at about a month old. We aren't using the SNS here (cause it isn't the prettiest thing to see in photos and he was just having a sleepy snack). Moment captured by Sue Moodie Photography.

Plastic, for all its faults, has played an integral role in me feeling successful as a mother and woman in this capacity, and I will be forever thankful that I was able to experience the bond with my children that comes with breastfeeding as a result of it. I’m reminded again that it isn’t the material itself that is necessarily the problem; it’s our behaviour towards it. 

Unwrapped Life Founder, Hayley McKenzie, and her mother at her wedding.

My mom and me on my wedding day. She is my rock and biggest supporter. Captured by Barnett Photography in Kelowna, BC. 

This company has been built by women, most of us mothers in one sense or another. On top of that, our own mothers have played a key role in helping us get off the ground and keeping this company moving ahead. They’ve provided moral support on a daily basis and hunkered down to help in any way they can - from holding babies to helping us pack orders. It seems to me that once a mom, always a mom!

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the moms in our lives and shower them with a little bit extra love and affection. I hope you take this opportunity to do so in a way that shows care for the special women in your life and care for Mother Earth. You know where you can find some great, unique and eco-friendly gift ideas, but I think what your mom will want more than anything is a big hug, maybe even a smooch on the cheek and some quality time with the person or people she held when they were babies in the dark hours of night.


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