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Since 2012, our Lullaby Project has paired ACG artist-clinicians with mothers in challenging circumstances. Together, they talk about the mother’s hopes, fears, and musical inspirations, then create and record a personal song for her baby. The mother then has a lullaby entirely of her own that she and her child can listen to for years to come.


Jennifer was in her second-to-last semester of college when she found out she was pregnant. She’d had a rough time in school, and many people encouraged her to take time off during the pregnancy. She decided to complete her degree anyway, her mindset being I’ve come too far, worked too hard, and spent too much time and money. I’m finishing school.

She ended up graduating a semester later than planned, which meant she was raising her newborn, Ava, while working, interning, and taking classes. Since she and her husband had no family in town, they worked out their schedules so one of them would always be home with their baby. That meant rarely seeing each other for the first several months of their daughter’s life.

Photo Credit Jenna Christina

She sought the assistance of ‘Any Baby Can’ through the Nurse Family Partnership, and they helped her with some of the most difficult parts of her pregnancy and postpartum struggles. When she told her counselor that she felt as if she wouldn’t be able to accomplish certain goals because of having a child, the counselor recommended the Lullaby Project. Jennifer had her reservations, but eventually gave it a try.

The first time she met with our one of our lullaby specialists, she brought Ava along, and her counselor was also there for support. Jennifer was nervous because she’d never written a song before, but they started off slowly.

“He just asked me to write down phrases I associate with my daughter – adjectives, words, feelings – which really helped, because I didn’t know where to start. And from those words, it turned into a letter to her.”

After the first session, she took the letter home. She began to read it while listening to her favorite music, then started to make up lyrics to the songs.

“I didn’t expect the words to come out like that, but all of a sudden it was pouring out of me; I was on a roll. I thought, ‘Wait, I can do this! It’s not as hard as I thought,’ and then ‘Wow, I can actually express myself in a way that is art.'”

Jennifer now realizes a lot of what she was going through emotionally was due to Postpartum Depression. She said even getting out of bed was a struggle at the time. But when she began to write down her thoughts for the Lullaby Project, reflecting on her first few months of raising a child, and how hard it was working, interning, going to classes, not having family in town, and never seeing her husband, she was able to overcome many of the feelings associated with those struggles.

 

Being a mother and having a child made me stronger, but I think the Lullaby Project helped me process everything I was going through, and put things in perspective. It helped me put everything into words, then put those words into the action of writing and performing. That made me stronger, pretty much more so than any other experience I’ve had. The fact that I was able to do something I’d never done before, and do it myself, was empowering. It meant I could feel like a role model for Ava.”

The chorus of her lullaby for Ava says ‘Let go and love, and grow stronger each day,’ which is as much a message for Jennifer as it is for her daughter. ‘Everything falls into place.’

This is Jennifer singing her lullaby with Arnold Yzaguirre, one of our lullaby specialists, at the Nurse Family Partnership Graduation with ‘Any Baby Can’. After the performance, she said to the audience, “The Lullaby Project helped me rediscover my love, my passion for writing. I never thought I’d be up here in front of you singing, but here I am.”

Ava, her daughter, crawls all over her during the lullaby in an attempt to grab the mic. Apparently, she always sings along when Jennifer practices at home.

“She wanted to be a part of it, she loves to sing. I want to get her involved in music.”

Jennifer would love to continue writing lullabies for her baby, and maybe for a future child someday as well. She encourages all moms considering the project to go for it, even if fears get in the way.

“The Lullaby Project is honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever done for my daughter, and for myself. It’s a very empowering and fun experience, and it brings out strength you didn’t know you had. It might reconnect you with a passion of yours. I want all moms to do this, especially those that are going through Postpartum Depression. I’m so grateful for the entire group of people involved.”