Over the span of my 41 week pregnancy I spent a lot of time thinking about life after baby as a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). One theme that kept arising in conversations with other SAHMs (or just moms in general) and in books I read was the need for community and support. So I decided early on that I would try to get involved in some sort of local MOMs group. The thought of it really excited me! I loved the idea of meeting other people in this same life phase to go through it with, but also to make friends that I otherwise would not know. So you can imagine my excitement when I got an email from the instructor from the birthing classes Jordan and I took, saying that she was leading a new Moms group and that we could join for free if we took her birthing classes. Last Tuesday was the first meeting I could go to and I couldn’t wait!
The day before the first meeting, I started feeling excited and nervous. It felt like the first day of high school all over again! I started asking Jordan questions like, “How do I carry Riley into the meeting? Should I just carry her? Or bring her in a sling or baby carrier? Carry her in the car seat? Put the car seat in the snap & go stroller? What if I bring her in the stroller, but then there are stairs in the building that I have to go up or down? Or what if I carry her in the car seat, but the other moms all have slings or baby carriers and judge me as if I don’t want to be close to my baby? But what if I carry her in a sling or baby carrier, but then get uncomfortable or hot and sweaty… or worse, what if I can’t figure out how to get Riley out of it and look like an idiot?! Oh I wish I knew what the other moms are doing… maybe I’ll get there early, sit in the parking lot and wait and see what the other moms do.”
Yes, that conversation really happened and those concerns were real. Go ahead and judge me, but only if you’re a new mom too ;-).
I know you’re at the edge of your seat right now wondering, “What did she end up doing?! How did she carry Riley into the meeting?” Well, so much for getting there early and watching the other moms… I still have yet to figure out how to get out of the apartment and get anywhere on time with baby gear or last minute diaper or feeding needs that arise right as I am about to leave (I swear it happens every single time!). So I was 20 minutes late and had to figure out what to do on my own. I decided to just carry in the car seat, because Riley was asleep and I didn’t want to risk waking her. When I walked into the room (once I finally found it, after walking around a huge building lost, with my arms killing me from hauling baby and car seat), I was relieved to discover that every single other mom had also carried their baby in the car seat as well. Phew :).
It was a bit awkward to walk in mid conversation, especially considering it was my first week (the other moms had already met twice). It only got more awkward when I discovered that there is a topic they address each week, and last week’s topic just happened to be, “Preparing to go back to work.” Not really relevant to my life. Which is OK, but what can I add to a discussion when all the moms are going around sharing fears, concerns, and how hard it is to think about going back to work? I’m pretty sure the last thing they wanted to hear was that I don’t have to think about going back to work, but just came to the group discussion on it anyway. So I was silent the whole time. I was hoping that maybe the conversation would take a different direction, and it finally did: sleep deprivation. Great, something I can relate to! I’m tired! We all have babies that get up to feed during the night, I can relate! Or so I thought. Apparently my reality of tired and their reality of tired was a bit different. When I say I’m tired these days, I mean that Riley got up 1 or 2 times at night to eat, get a diaper change, and then she falls right back to sleep and I average somewhere between 6-8 hours of sleep at night (in increments of course). Not to mention the fact that Jordan and I split feedings, so I get to sleep through 1 at night while he feeds her with a bottle I’ve pumped. So really I’m actually getting more sleep (and better sleep) than I was getting at the end of my pregnancy. Score! But what these moms meant when they say they’re tired is that when their babies get up to feed, they will not go back to sleep. They scream and cry, and the moms feel like they’ve tried everything but cannot figure out what works to get their baby to sleep. They average 2-3 hours of sleep a night and they don’t pump bottles for their babies yet.
Then there was one more topic someone wanted us to discuss: inlaws. OK, I have inlaws so maybe I can fit in more with this topic! I love my inlaws. We spent Thanksgiving with them and it was awesome. I loved watching them love on Riley and my mother-in-law is coming to help me with her for a few days. I appreciate them so much! Isn’t family great? Except that this topic actually got some women really heated up. Apparently they were hoping it could be a complaining/venting ground for their hard relationships with their mothers-in-law.
Oops… strike 3.
I know it is likely that Riley will hit a phase eventually when sleep becomes a little more difficult for us. I also know that I will face many challenges being a SAHM and navigating relationships with family can get tricky no matter how much you love them or how wonderful they are; but unfortunately I don’t think the moms in this group and I particularly hit it off last week… At the end of the meeting they all stuck around to talk and laugh and I felt a bit like an outsider looking in.
Oh well, 1st dates are often awkward but at least they make for good stories! In the meantime, I am keeping my eyes and ears open for other moms groups in the area! 🙂 I’ll keep you posted!