Posted in baby, parenting, postpartum, pregnancy

Mom Groups: The Good, the Bad and the Weird

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“I’m pregnant and I’m thinking about joining a mom group. Should I?”

Congratulations! You’re pregnant and probably looking for support from others who can relate to what you’re experiencing. Sure, you probably have friends who have been pregnant before, and maybe you even have yourself. But there’s just something about being able to talk to women who are in the same stage of motherhood that you are at the same time. Because let’s be honest…we all look back at our pregnancies and probably remember them differently than they actually happened.

There are a few different kinds of mom groups, and each of them brings something different to the table. Personally, I’ve had experience with three.

The facebook mom group

Very early in my first trimester, about 4 or 5 weeks in, I was invited to join a private group on facebook made up of other pregnant women who were all due around the same time I was. At the time that I joined, there were probably 200 of us.

The good: The women in this group were so kind and supportive. It was great to be able to ask them questions that I wouldn’t ask someone I actually knew.

They also made delivery seem much less scary. A good chunk of them delivered before I did and I just remember looking at their photos and thinking, “holy cow, they look so good!” And after delivery, they’d just be gushing about their babies, not saying how awful it was, so that gave me hope.

When it got closer to my due date I was experiencing some contractions and I asked them how you know the difference between Braxton Hicks and real contractions and it was nice to get so many different perspectives based on their own experiences.

Our babies are all around 6 months old now and we still post every day.

The bad: During my first trimester I almost left the group. There were several women who experienced miscarriages and being that we were their support, they would often post, in detail, what was happening. It was horrible for them and in a different time I may have been in a headspace to be more supportive, but being that I was pregnant also, I found myself just getting a lot of anxiety and fear that I would also have a miscarriage. It kept me up at night and constantly had me thinking the worst. I was lucky to have a healthy pregnancy, but the stress that comes with being pregnant was definitely exacerbated by being in that group so early on.

The weird: Every group has a weird mom and in this group, they were the pregnancy elitists, as I called them. They were usually women who had given birth before and knew it alllllll.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved having women in the group who had already had kids because I found their experience to be very helpful. But the pregnancy elitists just had a way of acting like it was their way or the wrong way.

The hospital mom group

The hospital that I delivered at had a new moms networks that met once a week. The first part of it was dedicated to going around in a circle and each mom talking about what went well and what didn’t that week. Then a guest speaker would come in to talk and answer questions. The guest speakers ranged from pediatricians to leaders of fitness groups for new moms, to moms who had experienced postpartum depression.

The good: I found this group to be very informational. I got a lot out of being able to ask questions of the guest speakers and other mothers. It also got me showered and out of the house to a place where I felt comfortable bringing a newborn. Newborns are hard because you never know when they’re going to be hungry or cry or just need to be held.

Being a part of this group, I felt comfortable nursing or changing my baby’s diaper. I also knew that I wouldn’t be judged if he broke out in tears for one reason or another.

The bad: I found it difficult to form solid relationships with the other moms in this group. I didn’t go every week because I had a vacation and other plans, and I was only able to go for the 12 weeks that I was off of work. It wasn’t enough time to make anything more than acquaintances.

The weird: The weird mom in this group was the Regina George of the moms. She had been going for a long time and rarely skipped group, so she knew most everyone, but only seemed to like a small group. She would often use time during group to organize meetups, but only invite some of the moms, and be very vocal about how she didn’t want to invite everyone.

The work mom group

My office has a new moms group that has occasional meetings to do mommy and baby yoga, or have a guest speaker come in to talk about work-life balance.

The good: Of all the mom groups, this is the one made up of mothers who can most easily relate to each other. We all work for the same company, in the same part of the state, and we all work. Let’s face it: working moms have some unique stresses – pumping at work, feeling comfortable with your childcare provider, etc.

It has been great to be able to connect with other mothers who can relate to many of my struggles as a mother, but we can also talk about things outside of motherhood.

They are also women that I see on a regular basis, so forming friendships has come with a little more ease.

The bad: I don’t have anything negative to say about this group. It does force you to mix your professional and personal lives, though, so if that’s not something your comfortable with, this might not be the group for you.

The weird: Every woman I’ve talked to who has joined a new moms group at their work has told me about the mom who has stayed in the group a liiiiiiitttle too long. At least at my office, the group is intended for new moms. Meaning, mothers of babies. But there’s always that one mom whose kid is like 15, yet they’re still a part of the new moms group. Perhaps to impart their wisdom? Who knows.

Should you join?

My answer is yes. It’s so important to have as much support as possible, especially as a new mother. Motherhood is hard and often times lonely. Find a network. Ask them questions. Cry on their collective shoulder.

If it isn’t making you feel good, then quit. But it’s worth a shot.

XO Nicoll

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Posted in postpartum

6 Things I Didn’t Expect Postpartum

I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy and have done everything to prepare for labor & delivery. What should I be expecting after delivery that I haven’t already heard about?

Yes! As expecting mothers, we spend so much time reading up on every aspect of our pregnancy and what to expect during labor. But there are a few surprising things that come postpartum. Here were my top 6 biggest surprises:

The peri bottle

Talk about a lifesaver! After you give birth and you’re a bloody mess *down there*, the hospital will provide you with a little water bottle that you squirt on yourself when you go to the bathroom. It feels great and leaves your very sore parts clean, like a portable bidet!

A word of advice: get a spare and pack it in your diaper bag because you do not want to be running an errand, have to pee and realize you left your peri bottle at home. It hurts and it’s just not an experience I’d wish on anyone I love.

Being scared to poop

I was more scared of my post-delivery bowel movement than I was of childbirth itself. Every muscle, tendon and piece of skin had been stretched beyond its breaking point and the idea of anything else coming out was just unfathomable.

Between how I felt physically and the mental block that prohibited me from going…it was days before I would get near a toilet for Number 2.

Tailbone pain

To piggy back on my fear of going to the bathroom…that was in large part because of how bad my tailbone hurt! I remember telling the nurse at the hospital that it felt like I bruised my tailbone, to which she responded, “you probably did.” What?!

Yeah. Apparently Baby’s head can cause some trauma to your tailbone. I couldn’t sit comfortably for months after delivery!

Stretchy skin

It makes sense, but not something I ever gave any consideration. After giving birth, your stomach is still very swollen for weeks, but once the swelling starts to come down, your skin is still stretched out.

Don’t panic yet! Your skin does eventually catch up…kind of. I’ve accepted that I’m probably always going to be a little squishier, but at least my skin doesn’t look/feel as funny as it did in the days following delivery.

I’ll also add…the squishy skin and stretch marks are so worth it.

Nursing is hard

I don’t know if you plan on nursing, but if you are, just know that it’s hard at first. And it hurts! But it’s normal and it does get better.

I don’t know why, but this took me totally by surprise. I thought it would be the most natural thing in the world, but it takes your baby some time to learn and it takes your body some time to acclimate.

It’s also tricky because breastfeeding requires you to continue to care for your body when your only care in the world is caring for that brand new baby. The last thing on your mind is drinking enough water and intaking enough calories…which is what your body needs in order to produce milk.

Unfortunately it also means a couple of weeks of pain and sleep deprivation because your baby needs to eat every 2-3 hours, if not more.

Once both you and Baby get into a routine, though, it’s very special.

How much I love my son

Of course I knew I would love him. But I never expected how overwhelmed with love I would be. There were so many days when I would just hold him and look at him and cry because my heart was just exploding out of my chest. The love that a mother has for her child is unlike anything I ever could have imagined. It’s simultaneously wondering how you ever lived without this little person, worrying about everything that could ever hurt them, and understanding that this right here was your entire life’s purpose and nothing else will ever matter as much as your baby.

Wishing you and your baby a healthy delivery. You’re doing great!

XO Nicoll

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