As a new mother things can get rough, specially if you have no support from family, if you got no friends with children or if you just struggle with being a parent experiencing feelings of failure and loneliness.
Once I had my daughter in my arms, there were things that came naturally like changing her, holding her and giving her my all; bathing her and sleeping with one eye opened checking on her every second to make sure she is breathing and she is fine. But there are things that don’t come as easy. There is breastfeeding and the inevitable challenges, there’s the sleep patterns, the colics, the dummy/no dummy, comforters of any other sort and basically anything else baby related. Not to mention that you constantly feel the need to hear the fact that you are doing a good job in spite of it all.
I went through all of them and more. I doubted myself every step of the way and the advice I got from doctors and health visitors was so contradictory and confusing that I started googling the most basic things and we all know where that can take us. Soon I closed of to the world and I experienced depression and anxiety. I felt lonely and misunderstood. I began thinking that I am not a good mother and no matter what I do, I will fail.
One morning I woke up and I thought to myself: “WHO ARE YOU, WOMAN?” I could not recognise myself and I knew I had to do something. I started looking for all possible mother and baby classes. I found a weekly playgroup, a baby massage class and a mummy and baby yoga class around where I lived. Once booked and confirmed I started feeling hopeful and excited. I was looking forward to meet other mums and I imagined all of us exchanging ideas and helping each other. Just like in the movies.
My first playgroup was a bliss and I tried to smile and make conversation with all other mums although if it wasn’t for the babies, I wouldn’t be able to find anything in common with. I think I as the new one hence why the curiosity amongst all. Same goes for the baby massage class.
After this I went and although I was trying to be a part of the group I felt left out and judged. Even the midwife holding the classes was a bit of a bitch. I got asked why do I use hand sanitiser before and after I change my baby’s nappy; they all looked at me like I was an alien because I dared say I had an amazing birth experience; I was the one who didn’t breastfeed for a million years although we all know that a fed baby is a happy baby; I got told off for using a dummy because my daughter will have speech problems – she was only three months old at the time. I had the odd looks because I walked everywhere and I did not complain of things – I would have if they were more welcoming.
From that moment on I gave up on playgroups for a very long time. I resented the idea and felt that I am better off without the judgy committee. Instead I enrolled for swimming lessons and yoga. Once a week I was going in Acton to a swimming pool along with other parents and splashing around, singing nursery rhymes and smiling while our little ones were thrilled in the water. The coach was absolutely amazing and I felt more myself than anywhere else although I was wearing a bathing suit not long after birth.
The yoga classes were in Ealing in a private house. The lady was a mother as well and she always held small classes, never more than three mums and babies. We would stretch, bond, talk, improve pelvic floor, eat home made flapjacks and change dirty nappies or feed in the same time. I loved it and I got very close to one of the mums with whom I went together to the swimming lessons and I am sure we would have been close sill if I wouldn’t have moved out so far away from the area.
When my daughter was about two years old I tried another playgroup thinking she is older now and it’s only play. THINK AGAIN.
I was told off because my daughter preferred playing to sitting at a table and having a snack she did not want. I was told she needs to learn how to sit with others regardless of the fact that she is eating or not. WHAT? Stupid cow. My daughter knows how to eat at the table and she’s been eating by herself since before turning one.
And this has been my playgroup experience as a mother. HATE THEM with passion. I prefer taking my daughter out at a cafe, going in the park together, write my frustrations and get over them instead of wasting time with people who judge me although the role is definitely one that implies help.
WHAT WAS YOUR PLAYGROUP EXPERIENCE? DID YOU MAKE FRIENDS? LOVE THE OR HATE THEM?