The Danish ECO-village, Fri og Fro, was established in Egebjerg in 2004, and the plots contain 16 very different houses as well as a common house. The houses are constructed from sustainable materials such as recycled wood, straw, clay and shells. The village also has its own willow, wastewater treatment. This is the place where single mother, Poula-Line Schmidt, experienced the help of her community.
I had reached the first month of my pregnancy when my partner and I split up. The last thing I had wanted was to be a single mother. I was standing in the door, telling one of my ecovillage sisters about the situation, when tears began running down my face. I looked at her face and a big smile came across it, and Giske said: ”But Poula, I will be here!”
In the next couple of months, my ecovillage family came to my home with everything I could possibly need for the baby. I think I ended up buying only one body stocking for my child. The support from everybody, especially Giske, who came so frequently, was overwhelming. I felt more and more safe and certain that I was capable of being a single mom with my ecovillage family surrounding me.
Three months before the birth, another pregnant woman, Mia, moved into the house across the street, and I ended up helping her in the same way. What a wonderful thing to share – the view on home birth, vaccinations and child raising practices – with her, as well as receiving such support and wise advice from the other mothers in the village. If ever Mia or I had a problem, it was positively solved next door or at our communal dinners, which we have three times a week. Knowledge and help was always available from our ecovillage.
Mia and I shared books about natural birth and both decided quickly on a homebirth. I was in the process of studying for my teacher’s exam at the time, being very busy during the pregnancy. I finally had a day’s break on my birthday, the 15th of May, and decided not to answer the phone and rest completely, when Mia’s partner, Lassa, was suddenly standing in the doorway asking for warm water for the birth, as they had planned!
This birth was to be my birthday gift! It was one of the greatest experiences in my life. A very harmonic development of background music compiled with the midwives calming overview, the steadily moving contractions, and the great honor of being on one side, holding Mia’s hand, while Lassa was on the other, created a wonderful birth experience. Mia had a fast birth, being amazing at relaxing in between contractions, and delivered a healthy, happy baby who they called Noam.
One month and 25 hours later, I gave birth to Nanur Ah Oskar. He was born under the spiral of the conch house I built, in a tub. Four girls that I knew were singing, improvising for 5 stiff hours. The midwife was on my right side at the top, and a helper on the left. It was not painful until the end, just a musical experience that carried me through the birth.
The next days I was so extremely happy and full of love. Since I lost a lot of blood I had two friends staying with me overnight. Two and half days after, the seriously hard part came; I would have rather given birth four times than enduring the following five days. Intense headache and fever disabled me completely. I was able to care for my son, but barely for myself.
My ecovillage sisters came to my rescue once again. Mette, Malene, Hanne, Giske and my midwife Radjini came with all kinds of natural remedies which lowered my fever for at least half a day at a time. They brought me two meals a day, cared for me, and did my shopping and laundry for me. However, in the end they had to drive me and my new baby to the hospital to help with my recovery. I don`t know if my own family could have been there so much, and so full heartedly, as they were, although I do not have much family nearby.
I will always be deeply grateful for being saved and embraced by my ecovillage sisters during those hardest days. I am extremely happy and confident that my ecovillage sisters are, and will always be, such a big part of Nanur Ah’s and my life. He is now 2 months old and we are excited that Giske will become his godmother at his naming party. It is amazing what the support of an ecovillage can provide during these hard and wonderful times.