I started a mom’s group because I wasn’t the best version of myself. Everyone talks about post partum depression. I wasn’t depressed, but I was really angry. My body had failed me; leaving me feeling broken and unable to provide. My son was beautiful and perfect, and really fussy. If only I had boobs that could pacify him, let alone feed him. Entering this world at 11.6 pounds, my little man came with one hell of an appetite and no sucking reflex. Every lactation consultant thought they could remedy this and every holistic practitioner in the Bay Area thought they had a fix for my low (read no) milk supply. I was exhausted and really frustrated.
My friends back east didn’t believe me when I said I had no friends. Having moved to the Bay Area as a newly wed and entrepreneur three years back, it wasn’t incredibly easy to meet people. Working in coffee shops or an office by myself – pre the coworking space boom – didn’t allow for tons of social engagement. Duncan had friends from college whose wives I befriended, but no one was home on maternity leave at the same time as I was, or lived locally in order to take a much needed walk with me.
A very gregarious expectant mom in my prenatal yoga group formed a moms group. I remember the day I finally got the nerve up to join in on an afternoon café meetup. Cam screamed the whole way there in the car. It was December and I had dressed him in some ridiculous holiday-inspired outfit. He cried so hard that when I got there he was covered in vomit. I had forgotten to pack another pair of clothes for him and my c-section scar was still so fresh. It hurt every time that I pulled the car seat out and heaved him onto the stroller base. All with the grace of a hippo in a tutu. That’s really how I viewed myself. There’s not a mom who met me in my first six months that won’t attest to my obsession over body image – I was so self conscious. Not that I am not today, 16 months out, but I’ve learned to love my lumps.
My stomach looks like the peaks in a fresh loaf of bread when I look down in my workout tops. But Cam loves those peaks. They catch him when he clumsily toddles into my arms, fully expecting me to barrel back and envelope him in a massive bear hug.
So then this happened: I lost friends because I wasn’t the best version of myself. I had made friends locally who I adored. Our boys were born within months of one another and we got ourselves through that first year. We walked in the afternoon, griped about lack of sleep, laughed as our boys began to mutter sounds that we swore were precious first words. I went back to work and the frustration continued for me. I wasn’t very fun to be around. I had panic attacks. My identity was entirely jumbled. My husband was incredibly supportive, but his work had a lot more boundaries and it was much easier for him to acclimate post-baby. The group I had befriended actually shunned me – I was no longer invited to meet ups & the queen bee went as far as to block me from seeing photos of the group on facebook. I was mom bullied. It’s embarrassing to even write this, but it’s what happened to me. And all the sudden, I feared that would translate into Cam being unwelcome on the playground. It was terrible and painful. The group where I found comfort was pulled out from under me, without as little as an explanation.
I had been in the baby business for ten years, and that didn’t prepare me for how difficult being a new mom would be. What happened to the postpartum vision I had of myself: jetting to soul cycle, baby weight thrown to the wind, an easy infant that went with the flow. I was really torn: How could I keep the balance? Enjoy social events with my child, and still feel very satisfied with my work life. Or vice versa.
So, I started a mom’s group that catered to local moms in my area and embraced the new mom. This weekend we had an event that 120 families joined in for. I watched all the new moms with the hope that they know that this is a supportive community for them. Even if overwhelming in the beginning, it’s so important to have the reference that there is a community for you. It was hard for me to take help in the beginning, but now I welcome it with open arms. It’s an ever-evolving process, self-care, but it’s much more fun to be able to show up for life and enjoy.