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 pregnancy

What You Should Know About Your First Trimester

I just found out I’m pregnant, but it’s too early to tell anyone and I’m feeling really overwhelmed. What do I need to know about my first trimester?

Congratulations! Whether you planned to become pregnant or you’re surprised to find yourself a few days late, that moment when you see the second pink line show up on a pregnancy test is very emotional. Your whole life is about to change. Here was my experience, and some things I wish I would have known going into my first trimester:

Symptoms may not be what you expect

Pregnancy symptoms can be your typical sore boobs and morning sickness. Or they might be non-existant. Nothing is normal, and everything is normal.

My experience: My best friend, Steph, told me about the intense dreams pregnancy can bring on. After I stopped taking birth control, my cycles were pretty long. So for the second month in a row, my period was late. I didn’t think much of it.

One night I had a crazy intense dream that I was on a cruise ship that was flooding and I was drowning. Weird, right? The next day at work I was in a meeting and BOOM! I remembered Steph’s words and I thought…is it possible? It was. That was the day I found out.

My symptoms after that? Nothing. Some food aversions, a lot of foods just didn’t taste good. MAYYYBBEE my stomach felt a little upset if I ate breakfast too late. I didn’t feel good when the weather got cold. But they were all things that weren’t totally out of the ordinary for me.

I spent so much of my first trimester worried that something was wrong because I couldn’t relate to what other pregnant women were going through. I even longed to feel terrible like they did. At one point I went so far as to take another pregnancy test at 7 weeks just to make sure I didn’t imagine it. And guess what? THE TEST WAS NEGATIVE! I obviously lost my mind and called the doctor immediately. Turns out it’s just some phenomenon that happens sometimes when you’re a few weeks in.

Two first-trimester doctor appointments and my little baby was developing right on track.

Some people just don’t experience a lot of symptoms.

We have so much information at our disposal

You can find out anything you want to about your growing baby. Insomnia got you up at night? I always searched different hashtags on Instagram to see how my bump compares to others that are just as far along.

It is so cool to learn about how quickly your little embryo is developing, especially when you can’t see or feel it yet.

Information also comes with a large dose of reality. You will learn about the alarmingly high rate of first trimester miscarriages, birth defects, and everything else that can go wrong.

You have to know when to put down the laptop and just have faith that everything is going well in your body.

My experience: I’m a researcher. So from the instant I found out I was pregnant I was constantly scouring the internet, or flipping through the pages of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. A lot of what I found was scary, but I couldn’t get enough information.

I also joined a private Facebook group of other women due around the same time. Believe it or not, that group was by far what has caused me the most stress in this pregnancy. It was about 160 women, and all too often they were posting about bleeding, miscarriages, going to the doctor and not finding a heartbeat. These were all things I head read about on the internet, but putting a face to the stories made it very real. I spent far too much time worrying that their terrible stories would happen to me.

Joining the group was really eye-opening for me. I didn’t realize how common miscarriage is and how blessed we have been to have a hassle-free pregnancy. But seeing the posts was so anxiety-inducing that I actually wished I hadn’t joined at all. It wasn’t until I was at about 15 weeks that I started to find the group helpful. There were other first-time moms who would ask questions I wanted to know the answers to, and plenty of experienced mothers who could provide sage advice.

Each person has different needs, but if I had to do it all again, I wouldn’t have joined that group until my second trimester. Pregnancy is stressful enough.

The human body is incredible

Pregnancy really is a miracle. I was and am continually amazed at how quickly a baby grows in utero.

A pregnant body is making so many changes to accommodate that little being and giving it everything it needs in order to thrive.

For as often as we complain about sickness or fatigue, they are minor symptoms compared to the miracle that is happening inside.

My favorite first trimester moments: My first two doctor’s appointments were unforgettable. The first appointment was at just seven weeks and the instant that I saw that little heart beating on the screen I started crying. It was so surreal seeing a living being inside of me.

Just four weeks later, at 11 weeks, the ultrasound clearly showed my baby’s arms and legs. The difference in just a month was amazing.

Those two appointments made the pregnancy so much more real for me.

I wish you a smooth and stress-free pregnancy and so much patience as you wait until you’re comfortable telling the rest of the world about your little one!

XO Nicoll

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