When I was pregnant with my first son, I pondered this exact question: should I join a mother's group?
I thought that if you did the ante-natal classes, the women in those classes became your mother's group. I am still unsure on this point. However, being a planned caesar, and therefore believing I wouldn't need to know how to breathe my way through a labour I wouldn't have (yeah right, if you have read my previous posts....!!) I didn't sign up for those classes, just the 'what to do with your newborn' class.
I enquired as to the benefit of joining a mother's group. My cousin was pregnant with her second at the same time I was pregnant with my first. So I asked if she had joined a mum's group and what she thought. I have never forgotten what she said because it rang so true when I did eventually join my own mother's group.
It is a group of women who you may not have otherwise met. Yet you will share the bond of having your first born's roughly at the same time and therefore going through the same things - give or take - so you connect. To this day, they are a group of women that I would always give the time of day to, even if I have not seen them for months or years, because we share something that I don't share with anyone else.
That sold me.
The idea of a sisterhood at a time I would be embarking on something TOTALLY foreign to me sounded like what I would want and need. I had a zillion nieces and nephews before I became a mum, but nothing is like having your own child twenty four hours a day, seven days a week!
Within the first week or two of coming home from hospital, the midwife visited our home to check on the baby and I. We signed up for her mother's groups meetings. We would meet for 4 consecutive weeks with her (the midwife) and after that, should we choose to still meet, we were on our own.
On our own! What? No guidance?
We met on our designated day. I remember looking around the room at all the new mum's and the even newer babies. There were 11 of us from memory, with a total of 12 bubs. Yes, one woman had twins, just a few weeks old. Not only did she show up, but she was pretty much there on time, and looked completely comfortable shuffling the two babies around to hold and cradle them. I am still in awe of this woman. It was all I could do to get myself dressed in somewhat co-ordination, run a brush through my hair, and three point turn my pram successfully, let alone get the 'morning rush out the door' routine down pat with two kids!! I decided that some people are just quite literally, incredible.
On week two one of the girls turned up with morning tea to boot! Home made. Oh please! How come I was the only one who seemed to be thrown for six in finding my new 'normal'?
Fast forward to the end of week four. It was going to be time for us to be on our own, if we chose to continue our gatherings. The following week would be Melbourne Cup. Well, it is just plain un-Australian not to celebrate it in some way, shape or form. A conveniently located pub that could accommodate space for prams was thrown into the ring as a suggestion. Okay, so it was the only suggestion. Why look for others when the first idea made sense?
We continued our weekly catch ups at various venues. Coffees, lunches, park visits, whatever worked. There were about 9 of us at this stage (plus bubs). We would discuss anything and everything. Nothing was off limits and judgement never entered the equation. I think that is why the topics were so open. We could be ourselves - good and bad - and just be accepted and more importantly, supported.
I remember my husband commenting after we had attended one of the kids' 3rd birthday parties just how apparent the bond is between us mum's in the mum's group. It made me proud and it made me smile. Because what he said is true. We look out for each other. And we look out for each other's kids too.
Our catch-ups became less frequent as we all either went back to work, moved, or had second babies. Lunches turned to dinners. With alcohol. And no kids.
We caught up just last Saturday night. It was brilliant. We are all so genuinely excited to be in each other's company. We share something special. Even down to stories that will be shared with us and no-one else. Because we get it and we get each other. We do share something unique. We experienced our first borns together. For most of us, our paths wouldn't have crossed otherwise. Our babies are our common denominator. Our babies who are all nearly 5 and heading to school next year!
So if you are pregnant right now and wondering whether or not to join a mother's group, the decision is entirely yours. But this has been my take on the immeasurable value that my mother's group has meant and still means, to me.