Sunday, July 31, 2011

Circle of Friends

I am really fortunate that I have a lot of friends with children of all ages. They all offer great advise and a unique point of view – the parents that is, not the kids.  If you’re going through something with your baby, you can be assured that at least one of them has been through the same thing at some stage.  It’s pretty cool, joining the Mummy club.  There seems to be a level of understanding and knowing between Mothers.  I now understand the woman with kids who gives ‘the look’ to an unsuspecting pregnant woman expecting her first child.  The look says ‘you poor thing, you have NO idea what you’re getting yourself into’, mixed with a little ‘this will be the best thing you ever do’.  Both are so true.
I moved back from Canada 5 years ago, after being away for almost 7 yrs.  Luckily, some of my closest friends still lived in Auckland, but none locally.  I’ve found it really hard to make friends who live in my area.  I also work from home, so there was no work place to meet new people.   Then I had a baby.  BAM!  All of a sudden I was meeting people everywhere; our local CafĂ©, Wriggle & Rhyme, Plunket, Playcentre  and of course, coffee group. 
When Aiden was 4 weeks old, I hosted our ante natal groups first ‘coffee group’.  I don’t actually think anyone drank coffee that day, but I get that is beside the point.  We all talked politely while the babies played on a blanket, getting to know each other and talking about our gorgeous wee ones (I might be slightly bias, but the babies in our group are particularly lovely).  It was a smallish group, 7 people out of the 15 couples who attended ante natal classes showed up.
Little did I know how much these ladies (and not forgetting Rob of course) would quickly integrate into my life, or how much I would look forward to each get together.  Once one Tuesday was over, I was already looking forward to the next one.   As Aiden got older too, I started doing more outings and hanging out with the girls.  Suddenly Aiden and I had a very busy social calendar with something planned almost every day of the week.  It’s such a cool time when you’re not back at work yet, the babies are the perfect age for taking out and about and you can just enjoy being a first time Mum and making new friends.  With our group I think we hit the jackpot, I really do.  We all get along so well and are getting to know each other outside of the thing that brought us together.  
I can’t stress how important it is to have a group like this.  It would probably be my number one piece of advice if you’re pregnant or just had a baby – go to ante natal classes or a mothers support group and get yourself some buddies who have babies the same age.  Meeting up with others who are going through exactly the same thing as you are is priceless.  You can talk baby for 2 hours solid and no one cares – in fact, you like it. Want to talk poop?  That’s ok.  Bring it.  Talk about boobs, bums, girly bits, boy bits… and eventually more birth story details than you ever thought someone would share with you.   Having a coffee group or any kind of support group in those first few months is crucial. It can be hard.  You’re sleep deprived and trying to get used to your new family dynamic, not to mention learning the biggest and most important job you’ll ever have.   Sometimes you just want to talk over every mundane detail with people, and sometimes you just need to hear that you’re not the only one. 
Over the past 6 months we’ve all shown up at least once looking glassy eyed or tired (or is that every time?) and it’s nice to be with a group of people who understand.  It’s not about all following the same philosophy on parenting or agreeing on how things ‘should’ be done, I don’t think any one Mother in our group does the same thing, but we all understand that everyone is doing what is best for their baby and family.  People all do things differently; I find it really interesting listening to what other babies are doing and have learnt a lot from this group.
This is a double edged sword of course.  Me on a Tuesday night: “Bill, now listen, we have to be much better at XYZ because I was at coffee group today and Billy is doing ABC and I really think ….”.  The following Tuesday afternoon “Honey, we are awesome.  Aiden is doing XYZ and Billy is a month older and doing the same thing, so I’m really pleased with what we’re doing”.  Next Tuesday “I suck as a mother…” and so it goes on.  Of course we all know that babies develop at different paces, sleep differently, eat differently, but it’s natural to draw comparisons as much as you may try not to.  Usually by Wednesday I am back to just concentrating on what I am doing, rather than what everyone else is doing. 
The last time we got together I noticed how much we all laughed.  There was a level of comfort and familiarity and I remember thinking how cool it was that I had found this group of women (yes, and Rob).  You all rock and I’ve really loved getting to know you all and having your support.  You’ve made my journey as a new Mum better and more fun.  I know I talk a lot, so thanks for listening.  Bring on the wine & vodka evening I say.
And then there are the babies.  To Zac, Talullah, Samantha, Ruby, Hugh & Lexi – you are cool kids. You are all so unique with your own great personalities and I am so stoked that Aiden gets to grow up with you all.
Ruby, Talullah, Samantha, Hugh, Aiden & Zac. 
(Lexi vacationing in England!)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eat, Pee, Love

Lets face it, when you become a Mum, your life becomes all consumed by the eating & peeing … not to mention sleeping, of your new bundle of joy.  And then there is the LOVE.  So much of it you think you might burst.  It's different for everyone, but for me it was like a thunderbolt the minute he was born.   And so began the Eat, Pee, Love phase of my life.
Most topics about your baby can be put into one of the above categories, except for sleep, which I think deserves an entire blog of it’s own.  Don’t worry, I’ll be paying some attention to that topic!  Life’s questions change from Where should we travel next? What shall I wear out for dinner or drinks this weekend?  Does my bum look big in this?  to Yes, of course my bum looks big in this, I just had a baby.  How many times did he poo?  How long was his sleep? How many sleeps did he have today?  Is that poo on his white onesie?  Did that poo just explode?  Will I get breakfast & a shower today?  Is anyone coming to help?  Is he too warm?  Is he too cold? Did I just hear him crying?  Why won’t you sleep?  What time is Ellen on?  How many hours until Daddy is here?  It is non stop questions. 

The biggest one – Am I doing the right thing?
Then, bit by bit you start getting answers and figuring things out.  Things start making sense and falling into place as you get to know the new human in your life.  I think we all expect them to come out and we’ll know them straight away because we have such a strong bond from when they were in the womb… but it just doesn’t work like that.  They are their own little people with their own personalities, trying to find their way and figure out what makes them happy and sad.  
At the end of the day (and all through the night) we are just along for the ride.
The ride I’ve been on for the past 6 months has been amazing, challenging, rewarding, exhausting, happy… oh, and did I mention the love?

Let me finish my first post by saying - I'm no expert on anything.  I just want to share my experience, the things I've learned, provide a few laughs, and maybe help out a new mum or two along the way.