Sunday Edit: Thilde Vesterby & Mothers Day

For many, Mother’s Day is a beautiful day, but for those longing for motherhood it can be a tough day to get through. Sunday Edit spoke to fertility mentor Thilde Vesterby who has designed Yoga for Fertility, a course to help women who are on the fertility rollercoaster.

Photo: Cathrine Koppel

Thilde Vesterby (40) lives in Copenhagen with her partner, Mette, and their blended family of two children aged 7 and 11. Thilde is expecting an addition to the family, a baby boy due in summer. Thilde Vesterby has a background in communication and most recently worked in the healthcare sector before she moved into yoga, mindfulness and mentorship full time. Thilde Vesterby is also the author of the book Fertile (Frugtbar).

Where did your interest in yoga and fertility come from?

“I myself received fertility treatment for many years and afterwards felt that what was missing was a place where you could meet up with others going through the same thing. Undergoing fertility treatment affects your entire life – not just the personal and intimate part of it. It isn’t something you can just compartmentalize when you go to work. To me, it meant a huge loss of control. I was used to the fact that if I just worked hard enough for the things I wanted, I would get them. But this isn’t something you have any control over.

I had taught yoga for many years outside work and started to look at the kind of yoga techniques and tools that might help to reduce the effects of stress and retain that connection to body and mind. We’re very good at providing fertility treatment in Denmark, but we talk very little about the psycho-social aspects involved and women’s well-being during treatment or after the loss of a pregnancy. Fertility treatment isn’t just all about injecting hormones and going for scans. It’s something that takes up and affects your whole existence and emotional life.

The women I meet get so much good advice, but there are perhaps not so many people who just sit down and tell them that they really understand what they’re going through. This is just super-valuable if you are in that situation, and witnessing women reflecting themselves in and helping each other by sharing their stories is beautiful.”

Photo: Cathrine Koppel

What does Mother’s Day mean to you?

“It’s a special day for me because I’m still in touch with a time when I wasn’t able to celebrate Mother’s Day. I don’t really have very good memories of that day because I lost my own mother before I had children myself so I was in a strange kind of limbo where I was both motherless and childless.

In my work, I constantly meet women who haven’t yet given birth or have lost the children that they’ve given birth to. This can be enormously painful. That’s why I think it’s important to remember that for those women who’ve been able to live this role, Mother’s Day can be a very beautiful day – for others, it can be a really tough day to get through. So I’m still very much connected with the vulnerability that was associated with no longer having a mother – and the longing to be a mother."

How do you celebrate Mother’s Day in your household?

We haven’t really celebrated Mother’s Day yet as everything is still a bit new. We’re having a baby, have just moved in together and have a blended family. I don’t have any great expectations, but I’ve heard my son say that there’ll be a Mother’s Day surprise for me.

Do you have a Mother’s Day recommendation you would like to share?

Danish author Tine Høeg has just written a novel called Hunger (Sult) which will be published at the beginning of June by Gutkind. It’s about undergoing fertility treatment and having a burning desire for a child. So I’m looking forward to reading that. Tine Høeg is good at looking at the ugly and the difficult – and I think that that’s just very powerful. So many books have been published recently about all the difficult and ambivalent feelings associated with motherhood and the maternal role, but I’m not very good at talking about how hard it is to have very young children. Those of us who have struggled to get pregnant think that all those sleepless nights and crying babies are easy peasy. It’s nothing compared to the time when I was struggling to have them. Things were much more difficult when I didn’t have them.

Find out more about Thilde Vesterby and her journey on her Instagram @twesterby.

Photo: Josefine Barrett