A while back, Hillary Frank had a rough delivery. Then her episiotomy busted; the Staples graduate had to be re-cut and stitched.
For the first 2 months of her baby’s life, Hillary could not walk, stand, change her diaper or sit in the proper feeding position.
“I felt like I couldn’t be the kind of mother I wanted to be,” Hillary says. “I was desperate to connect with other moms, to hear I wasn’t alone.”
When she finally left her house, Hillary tried to talk to mothers carrying babies. Sometimes she felt they weren’t being honest about how hard things were. Sometimes she felt that her experience was vastly different from others.
So she turned to her professional life — she’s a radio producer (“This American Life,” “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered”) — and stuck her mic in women’s faces. A microphone, she knows, helps people open up.
She asked deeply personal questions. Nearly everyone cried.
It worked. “I wound up feeling much better,” Hillary says. “And I forged lots of new, deep connections.”
Those interviews and connections led to an intriguing project. Every couple of months, for the past 3 years, Hillary produced a podcast about her struggles in early parenthood.
She calls it “The Longest Shortest Time.” Now she’s ready to make it her full-time job, with a new episode every week.
“Most parenting media today is very divisive,” she says. “Parents are forced to choose one side or another of the most recent parenting trend.”
Her podcast addresses parenting “in all of its complexity.”
She has clearly struck a chord. One fan writes, “I am a listener to this podcast; I would like it to be more regular. As a parent, I know how hard it is to find storytelling about being a parent that doesn’t suck.”
“The Longest Shortest Time” has told the story of a music teacher whose child abhorred lullabies; a woman who was convinced that her colicky infant would turn out to be a jerk, and a war correspondent who juggles motherhood with sniper fire.
There are stories about physical health and mental health, work, gut-wrenching decisions, torturous pain and ecstatic highs.
Hillary even did a podcast on her own mother. It was supposed to provide comic relief, with a description of the prehistoric breast pump used in the 1970s. But then, Hillary says, “I had to go and make her cry about not being able to breastfeed me. Sorry, Mom!”
To make regular podcasts a reality, Hillary has created a Kickstarter fund. She needs $25,000 by October 16. Anyone can donate — you don’t need to be a fan, or a mom. To help, click here.