As a new mom, one of the most detrimental things one can do is going to a “baby group”. Sure, they seem like a great way to meet other moms, get support, make friends, but don’t be fooled, these are evil places that will just make you feel horrible about yourself.
Ok, I’m not totally serious. My first “baby group” experience was when my first daughter was about 3 weeks old. It was at a local hospital and I went with a friend who had also just had a baby. It was horrible! First of all, outings with your first brand new baby are terrifying – I think I pulled the car over 4 times during the 20 minute drive to check if she was still breathing (yes, these are the crazy thoughts that go through a new mom’s mind). Next, when I arrived I was immediately self-conscious about my post-pregnancy body (didn’t help to have a teeny, tiny friend who gained 10 pounds during her pregnancy – albeit she threw up the whole time and probably would’ve traded that for my50 pounds any day). I was self-conscious about my huge boobs, which with a 3-week-old who nurses every 3 minutes I was having to whip them out several times during the group.
The moms sat around and nursed their babies, which as a first-time mom is totally awkward to do anywhere but situated in your favorite chair with your boob positioned just right so it doesn’t feel like a mouse trap has sprung on your nipple and is pulling it off of your body. Nursing in a metal chair with 10 other moms seemingly staring is not easy. After two babies however (nursing one until 3 months before the second was born), I now nurse while cooking, cleaning, and putting my contacts in – yes it’s possible people!
Anyway, next at the baby group I would hear about how all of the other babies were sleeping several hours at a time, nursing only every 3 hours, and how the moms were busy being domestic goddesses who cooked and had time to read books. Meanwhile, I was feeling like I could barely make it out of my sweats and get my teeth brushed, this child wanted to nurse 24-7 and would only sleep in my lap (all night long in a recliner that I slept in for 2 months.) What was wrong with me?!? What was wrong with my baby?!? As my mom would say – “they lie”. Whether they lie or not, I’m not sure, but I am sure that those moms were probably really feeling exactly like I was – analyzing every move as a parent, trying to figure out this little person, trying to adjust to our drastically different lives, trying to find a way to survive on 3 hours of sleep and a flood of hormones, all while
trying failing to maintain the wonderful control I had over my life pre-baby (hahahaha, what the heck is control?!?!)
Well, the point of my story was to say this – friends are great, but everyone, no matter how good of friends you are, as a new mom is trying to maintain a picture of “holding it all together”. This is probably not so much for others as it is for ourselves. After months, years, of getting together with the same moms, we have all let our barriers down and realize that we all struggle, every single day in this crazy life. We know less now than we did with tiny infants, we want to pull our hair out
some most days and we often find ourselves in tears over our most challenging role, as parents. And, oh, how I am so thankful to have those friends. They make me feel normal, they remind me that I’m not alone, they laugh with me and cry with me and we all know that everyone goes through the same things. We give each other advice and we admit that we really have no answers! We don’t know how to get an infant to sleep through the night, we don’t know how to handle preschool tantrums, we don’t have time most days to eat or workout or put makeup on and our marriages sometimes get put on the back burner because we are so exhausted. Yes, this is reality and it feels so good to just be real, to stop trying to pretend that we can hold it all together at all times and to just fall apart….together.
So, my friends, approach baby groups carefully. Go into them knowing that no one has the answers, don’t compare yourself to anyone, take advice lightly and you just may emerge with one of the best gifts of all – real, true friends.