Altona Mum’s Group established Spring 2012
Written by Skye Higgs November 2016
Mondayitis and I’ve just busted myself procrastinating, I’m so good at it that I didn’t know I was off in la-la-land until my mouse arrow suddenly turned into a miniature Christmas tree and I realise I am online fashion browsing and daydreaming again! Snap back to reality and I can’t quite comprehend that it’s only a few weeks until Christmas.
The other evening, I’d got the children into bed and was having a glass of wine whilst scrolling through Facebook. One of my Mother’s Group friends had posted a suggestion that we all meet up for a pre-Christmas Mummy get-together for tapas and drinks. YES! Totally committed (I can’t wait for what seems like a long over due meet-up).
Maybe because of the wine, or maybe just the memories, I started getting quite emotional whilst reflecting on this group of amazing women and sent them all a deep and heartfelt, loved up, gushy, message telling them how important they are to me. Ten minutes after my message, several replies started arriving. Each of them telling of their gratefulness of our little group too.
One can only point to fate and serendipity when all stars align and a group of women come together purely because they all conceived and delivered babies around the same time. But for us all to bond so closely and create a tribe going forward is pretty incredible. Sure, at the beginning there was a lot of sleep and poo talk, but over time, we created a space that is safe and comfortable, where nothing is off limits and there is absolutely no judgement – not ever.
I can picture the room where we all met, pre-Christmas, four years ago. It was a stiflingly hot day, the smell of burnt concrete and gum leaves, summer dresses, new mums walking modern prams to a tired 1950s maternal health care building.
It was an early meet up because of the Christmas break; we wouldn’t have a chance to meet again until the new year… it was a chance to swap phone numbers.
These teeny, 6-10 week old babies and their exhausted new mums, sitting in a low lit room to stay cool, some babes laid on their back on baby blankets, some babes were feeding, some babes slept peacefully in capsules while a couple were still unsettled. I looked around the room and saw myself in these women, in their darkened eyes sockets and inflated breasts.
I then started looking at the babies, to keep my mind busy while we waited for the session to start. I tried to pick the strong genetic traits between mother and child. Looking around the room it was almost an even split between boys and girls in their little summer outfits.
With a little coaching from the Maternal Nurse, the conversation also warmed up… we took turns introducing ourselves and our babies, it didn’t take long before some of the hilarious and traumatising birth stories came tumbling out, it was clear who the big talkers and entertainers in the group were and we had a laugh. Most of all it was so obvious that we all needed to vent, share, download our experiences and have an empathising and understanding ear.
I went home lighter and more relaxed. I had been struggling, I wouldn’t admit it but I was really feeling very isolated. I found mum life very stressful and I had developed unreasonably high expectations of myself. I acknowledge that I was probably still in shock from the shoulder dystocia emergency birth of my daughter Willow. That, coupled with no sleep and very little support at home meant I was probably as shell-shocked and unsure as Willow was when she entered the world.
A few weeks later, I was having a particularly bad day… a bad week. Life had changed, forever and I didn’t have a very clear picture of the future.
At home on the bathroom floor, I was balling my eyes out – rivers of tears … I couldn’t function. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I was calling out to the universe for some clarity. I was overwhelmed with change, I’d always had a plan: I wanted to study fashion and be a designer and I’d focused and crafted out my career as I’d dreamt of since 12years old. I wanted to have children and a family but suddenly I was here and I couldn’t see past the moment. I didn’t have a vision, I was struggling to understand who I was and who we were together now as 2 people: Mother and child.
Then I said to myself: “NO. STOP. You are not a victim. You are a new Mum. You and your baby need to get out of the house, you need to look forward to something.”
So I drummed up some much-needed confidence and sent text messages to the phone numbers on the Maternal Health list. I wrote that I would be at a local café at a certain time and day and if anyone could make it, I would really love to have a coffee. I was proud of myself that I had pulled myself through a funk and made a positive resolution, whatever the outcome.
When I met with the other mums, I realised that they were also craving the contact and escape. We became very good at drinking coffee and conversing between nappy changes, breast and bottle feeding and rolling babies back onto rugs. Our children must have been the most socially adapted children in Melbourne.
Fast forward four years and I’m proud to say that my beautiful Mummy Tribe, originally a group of 10 mums … is now sporting a total of 20 children who are all little besties, with the most recent baby arriving just last week.
I realise that everyone’s situation is different and that not everyone has the best experience in an allocated Mothers Group.
If you don’t find your tribe straight away or you’ve relocated to a new town or area please don’t lose hope. You may just need a bit of creative brainstorming. And don’t be afraid to take that first step, send that first text message, when the hour, minute or second is right. You just don’t know who else is silently freaking out at the other end.
My ideas for new mums:
- If you find you don’t connect well with a group, ask your local Maternal Health nurse if they can connect you with a new group. (PS: if you don’t like your Maternal Health Nurse – you can also change, ask to book with someone else, or register at a different clinic – this may be harder in smaller, regional areas)
- There are lots of places to meet up – baby-friendly cafes, libraries (rhyme time or storytime)
- Join a Council run or private playgroup, or set up your own
- Yoga & Mums and Bubs classes (start prenatal classes when pregnant and you could meet some great mums to be that also carry on with their Yoga practice with their new bubs). Exercise is also a great pathway to easing the emotional transition. You can also practice mindfulness. There are some great apps to help with this.
- Facebook have lots of mums groups that you could search in your area and request to join.
- Pick up the free parenting magazines at the local café or library
- Follow local bloggers on Facebook. They’ll usually give you the news and updates on local hot spots and events
This week, 13th – 19th November is Perinatal Depression and Anxiety (PNDA) Awareness Week
If you are truly feeling that it’s all too much and you are really not coping, please seek help.
PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) National Helpline
Mon to Fri, 10am - 5pm AEST
1300 726 306
Its ok to take some time out to daydream a little, we can’t always be ON for everyone, don’t be too hard your yourself …and sometime a little retail therapy is great for the soul too – it is almost Christmas! xx
Skye & Willow
Altona Mothers' Group & Families