MOTHERS’ GROUP SCOOP : What you really need to know
I loved my Mothers’ Group.
It was an essential life line right when the euphoria had started to wear off and I was left day in day out with a tiny human attached to me.
I made some lifelong friends and it was reassuring to sit in a room full of women with boobs and bottles flying about, unwashed hair pulled back in the new style of ‘whatever gets me out of the house the quickest’, wet wipes dabbing frantically at shoulder vomit bombs, a few tears, hysterical laughter possibly triggered by exhaustion, over-sized, crammed to capacity nappy bags, and a traffic jam of spanking new wheels by the door. I was in a room with a load of stunned women facing yet another day of the brain numbing eat, play, sleep routine, when only a few months earlier some had been juggling demanding, professional careers. We all believed our baby was the most beautiful and clearly the smartest, whilst tragically moaning that they were the worst feeder and impossible sleeper.
At my very first meeting with the girls away from the Maternal Health Centre, I proudly whipped out my bottle of bubbles (how very ‘bold’ and ‘un-PC’of me) and popped the cork, sending a spray of champers flying across the circle of brightly coloured, newly embroidered ruggies and their precious babies. It secured my dramatic entrance on the scene, everyone remembered my name, and luckily, there was still enough champagne left over for a glass or three. Lifelong friendships were cemented in that very moment.
But be warned.
Whilst you can knock yourself out banging on about whether the Phil and Ted or the Mountain Buggy is the best option in the supermarket, or whether Huggies or the plain Aldi brand nappies are the most absorbent, there are some topics that are absolutely OFF LIMITS.
Here are a few spicy topics to get those sleep deprived, hormonally blitzed, fierce lionesses roaring (and I can say this because I have been all of those…and very possibly still am, on a daily basis).
- Breast is best/Fed is best: throw this little morsel into the baby ring and watch them go bat shit crazy! This whole issue still never ceases to amaze me how incredibly defensive many people get. The majority of mothers do not care in the least. Feed your baby. This debate is pointless and exhausts me. The end.
- To immunise or not: whipping up a storm now. I cannot even. Wasting my energy typing this. Please kiss your babies and go look at Light For Riley.
- Baby led weaning: Not quite as contentious as the above, so let’s all take a breath, BUT, this still manages to get some women leaping about excitedly in their active wear. I totally missed some memo on this one. I just started feeding my babies between 4-6 months as was the guidelines at the time; sometimes they belted my hands away, it spilt, they swiped it back off, whacked it in their gob and off they went. I had no idea there was this whole decision based around this ‘movement’ and what was best for your child.
- Comfort crying: Loads of people like to weigh in here and there is an incredible amount of literature and speakers available on this topic. Darlings; I simply survived. I still do whatever it takes for us all to get some sleep. My first baby was textbook; and yes, I followed a ‘routine’ once he hit 6 months. I ate Tim Tams, set the alarm clock and patted his little body in the dark. But he was a chubby, cheery, happy little soul, and he liked his sleep. Then our fierce, wailing diva joined the brood and my eyes fell back out of my head. I held her. I rocked her. I wrapped her. I bagged her. I co-slept with her. I changed my diet. I let her cry. I cried. I dreaded the nights. Exhaustion and frustration; resentment and fear. But we put one step in front of the other and we are on the other side. I will never judge how you manage this. I can never understand or appreciate what your nights are like. You are amazing.
- My baby sleeps all night: as I mentioned, I was one of those biatches who got this gem first up. Most nights. I would put him down and for nearly 12 months life resembled ‘normal’. Then we patted our own backs, declared ourselves extraordinary parents and had a second baby. At this point, shite hit the fan and everyone began screaming from around 7-10pm most nights; us included. My point here is, never wear your badge. Never announce you are an expert. Never declare you know, because it can all change in a flash. Encourage, bring donuts and offer suggestions if asked, but NEVER make a tired Mum feel crappier than she already does. And to those crazy women who think their babies ‘sleep through’ because you put them down at 11pm and they woke at 5am; not on my planet, sweetheart.
Don’t get me wrong. You do need to be informed about all of the above. But maybe early days of Mothers’ Group is not the forum to get vocal or pushy. Choose a person you respect who will provide you with solid advice and do your own research.
For what it’s worth…stick with sharing your labour stories when ready, the best parenting blogs and forums to read during night feeds and listen to each other. Share what you’re missing most about the world ‘pre-baby’, whether cronuts are really ‘all that’ and look out for anyone who perhaps isn’t coping.
And for the love of almighty wet wipes, when you are transporting champagne in a stroller along a bumpy footpath, be prepared for the pop froth.