Wednesday, September 16, 2009

First Weeks

Every Tuesday and Wednesday, a local store called Birth and Beyond holds a support group for new parents called First Weeks. It's a drop-in type of class for parents with babies under 12 weeks of age. I tried to go to the Tuesday group yesterday, but just couldn't get my act together in time for the noon start. I often have to wake Edie up in the night to feed, as she would otherwise sleep more than 4 hours without food, but two nights ago, she must have been going through a growth spurt because she fussed promptly every 2 hours all throughout the night and ate a full "meal" each time. As a result, the following morning was nap time, not get up and go time. But last night the Eedster had a pretty good sleep schedule so I decided to take my first big outing with her by myself and went to First Weeks today.

The group is 2 hours long and starts at noon, so of course Edie decided to flip out and go on a crying jag at 11am. I panicked and almost backed out. I was scared everyone would have charming babies and mine would be the only a-hole screaming the entire two hours. I was also scared that she'd get hungry and I'd try to breastfeed in front of all those people and oh god, the list of fears went on. But Jeff told me I was being an idiot and so I loaded her up with a diaper bag full of clean clothes, zip locks, Safeway sacks, and all sorts of other baby loot and we headed out. Thankfully, the car ride knocked her out and she kept quiet while I checked in and found a seat. Right away, I realized my fears were stupid as there were about 15-20 other Moms (and one brave Dad!) and half of them had babies that were already flipping out. Edie pretended that she was the perfect baby and slept contentedly in her car seat. To be completely honest, she did freak out briefly about an hour and a half into the group, but shockingly I was able to shush her into a calm, make up a bottle and feed her back to sleep.

The group was GREAT. I can't stress how happy I am that I went. It's an open forum lead by a nurse and lactation expert and everyone just basically voices their fears and insecurities and then the nurse tells them they're normal and asks the group to raise their hand if they've had the same fear or insecurity (at least half the group did, every time). I talked about my problems with breastfeeding/milk supply and while no one offered up that they were struggling in the same manner, everyone was nice. One woman broke down in tears and said it had been a rough week while her baby wailed inconsolably. Many women talked about how crap their husbands were with the baby and how the second the baby cried, they handed the baby right back to the Mom. One woman said her husband was about to start staying home one day per week while she went back to work and she was terrified of leaving him alone with her. This made me realize that everyone has their issues and mine is apparently breast feeding. I feel so lucky that I can hand Edie off to Jeff without a second thought. I know I could leave them alone for an entire day and wouldn't worry one bit about his ability to cope. They're buds. In fact, I can hear him changing her diaper upstairs right now and cooing to her, "Yes, you're gross - its true" right now and it's making me giggle.

The best part of the class though was probably the very end when everyone was getting up to leave. One of the women approached me and told me that her 4 week old son was adopted so she's not able to breast feed. She confessed to feeling guilty about not being able to offer him breast milk and generally seemed very cool. We bonded about fearing that we'd have sickly, dumb babies as a result of formula and laughed about it together. She lives not far from us and introduced me to her friend in the class who also has a 4 week old baby named Zoey. At the end of the class, they give you a list of everyone who was there along with their contact info. When I said goodbye to the two new Moms I'd met, they asked if I'd come back next Tuesday or Wednesday. They seemed genuinely interested in making sure we stayed in the same group so I'm hopeful I'll see them again next week. I may even email them at some point to see about walking around Greenlake or something.

Oh, and they also have a baby scale at the group meeting that you can use to weigh your baby if you want. I plopped Edie down hoping she was maybe back up to her birth weight of 8lb 2oz but she weighed in at a whopping 8lbs and 11.5oz! She'll be outgrowing her newborn diapers before we know it. After I took Edie off the scale, this woman put her creepy looking 10 week old down on the scale and she only weighed 8.5 pounds! And yes, I know it's rude to say someone's baby is creepy, but dude. This baby WAS creepy.

On the drive home, I felt exhausted but more like myself than I have in days. Getting out of the house and doing things on my own with Edie was great. It reminded me that things are going to get easier. I hope to sit down soon and make a list of baby-friendly activities the two of us can do together during the day. Next on my list to try is a matinee in Bellevue, where I hear they do movies just for parents and infants. Apparently they leave the lights up a bit and the sound down and Mothers are welcome to whip their boobs out in public for feeding while Dads bop their babies up and down the aisles.


Betsey said...

I can't wait until I can drive with Emmi (have to postpone this until I'm off an antibiotic that makes me loopy) and test out something like this. It's so great to hear your experience, I'm a bit on the introverted side when it comes to big groups so I was a little freaked out by the idea, but your story really helped. My neighbor has a baby that is a couple months older, but that's only one person and I know I'm going to need more mom interaction than that.

Don't worry about the creepy baby. My nurse informed me that her daughter was the ugliest baby she ever laid eyes on - and she was dead serious. I never expected such honesty from her. It's like the ugly baby episode of Seinfeld.

Also - we just got the okay to let Emmi sleep during the night until she wakes us up - we were on the same schedule as you. Here's to hoping you'll get that go ahead soon too!

Marcia Culver said...

Jill, what a gift to yourself to have the mom/baby group. It's such a relief to know others are going through exactly what you are. I wish I'd had a group like this when I had Jeff!
love and hugs to you,
P.S. I enjoy reading your blog posts and the photos are priceless!

Lindsey said...

I am SO EXCITED for you! This is a big deal. Your first outing alone with Edie and you did great. I am happy you are making friends with other new moms and...

...sorry but my eyes just wandered to Betsey's comment and I see that the nurse informed her that Emmi was the ugliest babe she had ever seen. WTF is that about? I think Greg might hit someone who said that.

...anyway, good job getting out there. I hope to find a similar group here in SD. You might also check with your local library. I know a lot of them have different story hours and things.

Have a great day, Jill! And thanks for all the laughs. I burst out laughing over your fears that Edie would be the only a-hole baby making a fuss.

Katie Ann Brooks said...

Jill, this is so great that you went and bonded. I think this will be really important and help you feel connected more. I wish I had done it, waited tol long I think and then felt like it wasn't the same connection, it was just always akward for me. So glad you went out and did this, it will help a lot to have people who really understand what you are going through.

Betsey said...

Oh no! I need to make a correction. The nurse said that HER daughter was the ugliest baby she'd ever seen. She was actually up in arms over Emmi's cuteness. I would have personally attacked her had she said that about my own child.