D took four weeks off work when Jellybean was born, as the days steadily ticked by I was becoming more and more aware of how little people I knew in the same position as me. Or how many people I knew in general. Unfortunately I had no childhood friends, school friends or undergrad friends around, they were all back in Dublin. I had some friends, but only one had kids of his own and they were already a couple of years old.
I had made two mum-to-be friends at pregnancy yoga but I needed more. How was I going to get through months of being at home all day, every day if I had no one but a baby to speak to? So I turned to social media.
On Facebook I joined the local NCT (National Childbirth Trust) page, newbie mum group and a breastfeeding support group. I turned to the groups when I had a query about relieving Jellybean’s colic, or suggestions on breast pumps when mine didn’t seem to work for me. Through the Not Another Mummy Podcast I discovered Mummy Social and from there began talking to two fellow younger mums and have become good friends with them – just a friendly warning to stray on the side of caution when meeting anyone off the internet and always meet in a public place. The app isn’t great but there’s a similar one called MUSH which is much better. It’s basically online dating but for mum friends!
Then I searched for mum groups in the real world, because I couldn’t hide behind my phone forever. I found Baby Sensory which was the first group I joined. I was so nervous walking into that church hall for the first time, what if Jellybean fussed? Or needed changing? I had gotten over feeding her in public but I was amongst other mums, the pressure I put on myself to seem like I had it all together was ridiculous.
It turns out what I mostly struggled with wasn’t anything Jellybean related at all, but making friends. I’ve never had trouble in that area, I’m a bit of a chatterbox y’see, but the issue was having other mums even engage with me. Most had arrived with their NCT friends – and didn’t seem to want any more. I am 24, so for most a good ten years their junior and maybe they assumed they’d have nothing in common with me, you know, aside from the fact we’re all new mums. Safe to say, my initial impression wasn’t great. I had signed up for a three week trial, two weeks of those I didn’t speak to one other person, talk about deflating. Jellybean loved the classes though, they kept her stimulated and without fail she fell asleep on the thirty minute walk home every time, so I persevered for her, and I admit it has gotten better over time and really met some lovely people.
The class leader of Baby Sensory was branching out and beginning her own Baby Massage classes. I was keen to get out and do more so signed up immediately and the atmosphere was miles from the isolation and alienation I felt at Baby Sensory. It was an intimate class, Katie had us introduce ourselves and encouraged us to socialise during and after the class. It was on her suggestion that I then went for coffee with one of the other mums after and all of us met up before the class a couple of times too.
At the very least I try to talk to other mums in the classes and groups, sometimes we click – other times not so much, it’s awkward as hell to ask the same questions of ‘Oh what’s their name?’ ‘How old are they?’… etc, I try to avoid ‘Do they sleep well?’ or ‘Are they a good baby?’ that’s something I’ll rant about another day. Steadily I have built up a good bunch of friends, most I will see weekly, others every two weeks or so because our coffee dates tend to span hours.
I found a group in the local church hall, I’ve signed up to Baby Yoga and in the New Year I will be starting Sing and Sign classes and Hartbeeps which is similar to Baby Sensory. I’m also keen to get Jellybean into the water as she loves bath time so swimming lessons are on the cards.
It sounds busy but the classes help with a routine, they give structure to my days. I couldn’t function just staying at home all day staring at the clock waiting for D to come home. As we only have one car I walk everywhere too, so getting fresh air for myself and Jellybean, although I’m sure I won’t be as keen as the cold weather steadily sets in. Don’t get me wrong you need to work up a bit of courage to actually suggest going for a coffee or a walk with a complete stranger and it takes a while for the conversation to progress from typical baby talk. It is work but I’m happy with the network of friends I have developed and so grateful for them. In the dead of night when you’re sleep deprived having a group of friends there at your fingertips is a godsend, because you can always bet there’s a couple of other mums awake too.
*I am not sponsored by any of the mentioned websites or companies, I have linked them purely for your convenience.