When I had my first son I was one lost little lamb. I didn’t know how to feed him, didn’t know how to make him sleep and being the first of my friends to venture in to baby-land, didn’t have anyone I could ask for advice.
As the gap between me and my without-baby friends grew I found myself feeling incredibly isolated.
When he was six weeks of age we attended the local mother’s group arranged by the family health centre in my area.
To be honest I didn’t know what to expect and almost wrote the thing off entirely before I’d even got there. I assumed all the mothers would be a lot older than me (my son was born when I was just 25 and all the women I saw around my area seemed to have a few more years on me). I thought they would have it all together, where as I was on the verge of a breakdown most days.
But when I walked in the room I saw a mixed bunch. Some older, some younger but all with the same ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look I’d been sporting since his birth.
At first the sessions were a bit forced. It’s like school where you’re trying to find ‘your people’. All you have in common with these people is that you had a baby at the same time and happen to live close by.
My first mother's group provided me with support and friendship Image: istock
But we kept going. Once the formal sessions finished, the group started meeting informally in the park.
Over time the friendships between the babies (and the mothers) grew and we were able to share concerns, struggles and laughter together. Some of the original group stopped going but a small group remained. In fact, my son is now in preschool with two of the babies from that mother's group, all who recently celebrated their 5th birthdays.
But as some of us went back to work and our schedules changed, the regular meet ups became harder and harder. So when my second son was born I knew that I wanted to join another group and meet some more mum friends.
I noted that I wasn't offered a mother's group the way I was with my first when the Early Childhood Nurse came to do the required checks. After I asked about joining one I was told that generally second time mums aren't encouraged to join a mother's group because it changes the dynamic of the group. If I could find someone to mind my eldest son (who was 2) I was welcome to come along.
Well that was hard. With no family around and no friends available I actually didn't have anyone that could help out with minding him.
I was disappointed but I understood.
I found another group online who met up in my area. I explained that I had an older child and they seemed okay with me coming along but I noticed very quickly that it wasn't going to work.