I met my new mum family in the middle of summer, in an old church meeting room with no air-conditioning.
We gathered as pregnant strangers, shuffling on hard seats for long pre-baby night classes and for the first time ever, London actually felt hot.
I would never have guessed that small-talk over sweetened juice and stale biscuits was going to result in real friendships that would help me through some of the long days ahead.
It didn’t happen straight away. We sat through six hot and sticky ante-natal classes and each Wednesday night we talked about our birth plans, the stages of labour and pain relief. It wasn’t until we met up after we all had given birth to our babies that we really talked. Some of us could barely walk.
My little boy with his grandmother at a few weeks old. Post continues after video.
My baby was the youngest out of the eight babies, so I was eagerly listening to the other mums – who had up to six weeks more experience than me. Their experience felt like a like a lifetime away from mine.
Some of us huddled in the corner trying to feed our babies while our partners strutted around with that new-dad grin you just can’t wipe off. The most disinterested man in the group before the baby was born was now beaming, showing off his boy to the other mums and dads.
We were all so proud, so happy and so tired. As a group we had crossed into the unknown together and were lucky enough to come out the other side with eight healthy babies. We’d gone on the journey from women to mothers at almost the same time. The most unoriginal time apparently. August and September babies in Britain is one of the busiest times for newborns – we had been told in class. I am ever so grateful for that.
The babies on a trip to the Tate Modern. I didn't see much art that day. Image supplied.
We walked away with a WhatsApp group and then it began. The late night questions about poo, colic, crying and sleep. The photos. The videos. The swim club - and that's where I really learnt to survive motherhood.
My Wednesday afternoon swim school meet-up became an invaluable source of support. I had no family in London and somehow my new mum's group who were from Ireland, Italy and Portugal became an extended family.
Living in London helped too, every day there was something on for new mums in my area. I met more new mums from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, France and Slovakia and their friendships helped shape one of the happiest years of my life.
Even the days when I was really, really tired it helped to see one of my new friends. They would describe the same levels of exhaustion, the same hurdles and we could laugh about it all.
We went from letting our babies crawl on my lounge-room floor in the winter to meeting up in Hyde Park in the summer. My maternity leave was a walk in the park because of them. Coffee in the Autumn and baby-free night's out in the Spring. I had a four seasons of Monday to Friday support as we watched our babies grow.