What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

The sisterhood

By Mary-Jane

The sisterhood

It was around this time last year that I found out I was pregnant. We had only been trying for two months. I remember walking into the lounge room after completing a home pregnancy test and telling my partner Jake, 'Yep, we're having a baby'. I think the colour just drained from my face as I sat on the couch and added, "life as I know it will never be the same'.

I know that I am making it sound as though I wasn't happy, but to be truthful, I was happy, but I was also a little shell-shocked. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and had convinced myself that it would take months, maybe years to fall pregnant. Now here I was sitting in our lounge room thinking, 'it wasn’t meant to happen so fast.' And as I told my friends over the coming weeks our news, it started to dawn on me that there will be friends that I won't see as often - while they will be at the pub having a drink, I'll be rocking a baby to sleep. 

Iris is now 14 weeks and I have just settled her to sleep in her bassinet (no, I haven't moved her into a cot in her own room just yet!). Yes life is totally different, but there have been some lovely surprises along the way. I have not lost friends ... rather, I have gained a few.

Mother's group was something that I didn't really think about when I was pregnant. I just thought I would attend the sessions for the first six weeks, and that would be it. But I have really met an awesome group of new mums! There are nine of us and we meet every Monday for a coffee and a catch up. If I can't make a week, I actually miss them.

I call it my safe place - where I can ask stupid questions about parenting, not feel judged, but actually feel supported. We look out for one another - if we know one of us is struggling with sleep there are offers of help. It really is special and I believe, vital. So I guess this week's blog is about being grateful and a little relieved. Iris is growing and still a happy little bub, and Jake and I are getting a little better at this parenting thing every week.

I am not saying it has been easy - there are times that I wish I could just jump in the car on my own and go to work for the day!  But there has been some lovely little surprises along the way - great friendships, old and new.

Expert response from What Were We Thinking! expert, Ann O'Doherty

Dear MJ,

Thank you sharing your story. It is lovely to hear your positive feedback about New Parent Groups (NPGs). In Victoria, NPCs are offered to all first time parents by their local Maternal and Child Health Service. Some Shires will also include families who are new to the area who have had another baby or those who may have had a long space between babies. These groups provide an easy, safe and supportive environment for parents to meet and get to know one another and can also be a forum for discussion and idea sharing.

Families often find they receive significant help, understanding, empathy and support from the other parents and the relationships started in NPGs can often last for many many years. It is not uncommon for
women to still be meeting with fellow mothers long after their children have grown and left home.

It is wonderful that you have met a supportive group of women. The chance to spend time with other mothers and babies, to listen and learn from other’s experiences and to watch each other’s babies grow and learn while you are enjoying each other’s company provides for a really special bond. Seeing and hearing the many different things that babies do and trouble-shooting stories of challenges not only normalises many infant behaviours (and is
reassuring to hear) but information shared about common challenges in parenting and relationships. Also, sharing different strategies and the support networks that are available locally can make seeking help and support so much easier.

It is often said that it takes more than one pair of hands to raise a baby and developing trusted friendships, where you can have fun together as well as help and support one another, certainly makes life easier. No one quite understands like a fellow mother.

For parents who have not had the opportunity to join a NPG, contacting their local Maternal and Child Health Nurse (M&CHN) by ringing their local council or shire is the first point of call. The M&CHN will be able to offer an invite to the next NPG (generally if your baby is under 6 months) or link parents in with community or supported playgroups in their area.

Most community playgroups are members of playgroup Victoria so interested parents can have a look on the PlayGroup Victoria website where you will be able to do a search on the playgroups in your area.

Ann

Posted in:  Baby 13-16 weeks  A new reality  In this together  Your needs