Ever stumble upon a great accident? Well that is how motherhood went for me. I was running for US Congress against Luis Gutierrez in the 4th District. It was 2012 and I had raised my first $25,000. I felt empowered. I felt alive. I was living my dream of working towards becoming a politician. Then our cat passed away, we had a few drinks and the next thing I knew I was pregnant. Ironic how another big dream I never thought would come to me suddenly was at my front door. Weeks later we found out it was twins.
Running for congress while pregnant with twins pretty much defines my everyday go-getter attitude towards life. I am an all-in and all-in-to-win-it. What I did not realize was that most women would not be in it with me. I was suddenly confronted with women who were not supporting one another. I was taking the hard questions and not from men, but from women. I was questioned on my ability to be a mother and a public servant. I was told day in and day out I could not do both of these things. Women struggled with donating to my campaign. I had to beg to get $10 from a woman whereas men would write me checks for the max contribution of $2600 all the time.
Being pregnant is not easy. Some women love it. I am not one of those. I find it to be anxiety causing, physically uncomfortable and plainly not my cup of tea. My race for the 4th district was tedious and I loved every moment of working with our community. With my belly leading the way I took on the media, my opponent and the debates sharing our communities message and the need to support women, children and small business.
My twins, identical girls, Annaliese and Miriam, came in June of 2013 and the primary election came shortly thereafter in March of 2014. The girls and I never missed a beat. They arrived at 36 weeks and 2 days, healthy, happy and ready to go home. We campaigned together. Dialed for dollars. Went door to door. We did it all and my husband was our biggest fan the entire way.
Being postpartum is an entire other phase of motherhood. Pregnancy was miserable but being postpartum was an emotional roller coaster. I used to pump on my way to debates and stash the milk in a cooler I would tote with me. The way home I would cry hysterically as I pumped more. My body was a mess, my brain was a mess and I for the first time ever was serving on the work and home front in a completely new way.
I needed friends. New friends. The kind that would understand what was going on with me and why my normally functioning body was failing me. Then came Mom+Baby.
Mom+Baby began at Wishbone on Lincoln Ave in Chicago. There were 4 moms and their newborns. We talked about nursing, strollers, getting back to work, our bodies and more. Turns out everything I was experiencing was normal. Why did no one ever tell me about all of these things that happen to women?
Turns out I was not the only mom that wanted to talk about her feelings and experience. The next event we had there were 11 women and their babies. Then the following month there were 24 women. Some pregnant, some with babies and others with toddlers. We were growing and it felt great to support women even more in the community that I love.
In March of 2014 I lost the race. It was a hard loss. I woke up the next day and felt empty. I still had my kiddos, my amazing husband, my thriving insurance agency but I felt like there was a hole in me. I sulked for a day and then woke up and decided Mom+Baby was meant to be more. We registered it as a business and become a 501c4 organization, a lobbying organization that helps women get involved in the legislative process.
Today we host 7-10 events a month including mommy&me programming, legislative coffee dates with our public servants and business networking opportunities. We have passed numerous pieces of legislation including an equal pay, tampon tax reduction, pro-vax and pregnancy accommodation law. We have lively conversations about our community and help women opt in for themselves and the other women around them.
On October 20th we are hosting our Annual Women Supporting Women Event. It’s our third annual event and we’ve expanded it to a full day conference with two amazing tracks, especially designed for women. All of our sessions are by women for women, focused on training, power networking, and coaching in business and life. The daytime conference is at #CatalystRanch and the evening Soiree is at Grind.
Mom+Baby continues to grow and thrive alongside my growing family. I am proud to be a mom, community activist, small business owner, daughter, wife and more! Together we can do amazing things and Mom+Baby is proof of that!
Alexandra Eidenberg is President and Founder of Mom+Baby.