I was 25 years old when I had my daughter. Yah. I know. I was young. But I was married, and I wanted a baby. All I could see were baby bumps everywhere. Did I ever think I was grown up and ready for my life to start. And as the second oldest of 7 siblings, I also thought I knew a thing or two about babies.
That last one was true. But what I didn’t know from was motherhood.
Thinking back, my naiveté was astonishing. To be completely truthful, I don’t think that I really thought about what would come beyond the belly. You know, the whole getting pregnant and growing a baby was all so very exciting. The attention, the maternity clothes, the pampering from others, being able to eat whatever I wanted, the maternity leave…
I was so focused on the fun stuff that I neglected to remember that there would be a reality following the fun pregnancy months. A reality filled with sleepless nights, breastfeeding problems, dirty diapers, clothes that didn’t fit, loneliness (I was the only one of my friends with a baby), and an inevitable return to work.
I know you’re hearing me. You get it. We deal with what we know, and the fact is that I didn’t know much of anything.
Remember, my daughter is 22. I had my baby in the days when the internet was called The World Wide Web, so my village was a lot smaller—and maybe a lot less opinionated. Mark Zuckerberg was a child himself so Facebook wasn’t a thing, and the smart thing about our phones was that we could make phone calls on them. My only resources were the people around me, and since I didn’t know anyone with a baby except my sister-in-law, it was pretty much me, my mother, the fanatical La Leche lady, and the scary What You Can Expect books.
Screwed. That’s what I was. Lost in a sea of baby poop, spit-up, and jeans that didn’t do up.
So… the baby. She cried all the time. Like for 9 hours at a time. She wouldn’t nurse. She only liked my dog and a little doll we called Mrs. Cow. My husband worked a lot. I was on my last nerve. The tears flowed from my eyes non-stop. This one time The Daddy came home from work and found me curled up on the bed with my back to the baby who was laying beside me.
We were both bawling.
What’s going on? he asked, as he scooped her up.
Take her back. I said. I don’t want her anymore. I can’t do this.
I was a failure. I was the worst mother. My baby was unhappy. My boobs were one giant scab, not that she would latch anyways. I lived for the moments I could get my mother to watch her so I could escape for a big outing to the drug store.
And then one day I was rifling through some papers that my prenatal class instructor had given us and found a flyer for a mommy group run by a former nurse.
- Spend time with other new moms!
- Ask your questions about sleep, nutrition, and more!
- Find out about your own post-natal self-care
- Eat muffins and gossip while your baby sleeps! (added by this author)
Oh my god, did those once per week for 2 hours every single Tuesday After Baby Come (ABC) classes save my life.
I found my tribe in my baby group. New friends, going through the exact same thing I was. Nobody cared if you whipped your shirt off to nurse. Nobody cared if your baby projectile vomited all over them. Nobody looked askance when you burst into tears for no reason.
We got each other. We supported each other. And we continued to meet long after that 8 weeks was up for 2 weekly hours of camaraderie, gossip, and grown-up talk.
I’m pretty sure that mommy and baby group saved my sanity. Watching the new CBC comedy Workin’ Moms reminded me of that. You know, while the internet is great, and Facebook is fun, we all need a village of women to support us face-to-face when we’re experiencing big life changes—like having a baby.
I’ll never forget that when it comes to motherhood it’s #momFTW and if we’re going to make it through to the other side we’ve all gotta stick together. Meeting with those other new moms ever week to dish, complain, and support made all the difference during that first year of new mom-ness. We bonded over a common understanding, one we couldn’t find anywhere else. And these days, my very best friends—my girls— are women I’ve met through my children. In fact, I met my best friend 21 years ago in the nursery school corridor, both of us second children in arms. I don’t think I could have navigated all the life stages without her.
What about you? Did you go to a mommy and me baby group? Did you meet your friends through your kids? If you did, you’re going to love watching how the women in Workin’ Moms bond over boobs, babies, back-to-work, and the weirdest group leader I’ve ever come across.
Tune in Tuesdays at 9:30 and follow along on social, too with #WorkinMomsCBC.
I love to hear how your group got you through that trial-by-fire called the first year of being a mom. Do you all still keep in touch?
Note: I was provided advance viewing of Workin’ Moms episodes to view this post and was compensated for its writing. All opinions are my own.