Random thoughts of a baby drop-in drop-out

by DaniGirl on April 24, 2008 · 10 comments

in Baby days

When Tristan was a newborn, our weekly highlight was a Thursday trip to the Well Baby Drop-In at the local community centre. He’d had weight-gain issues (though not as severe as Lucas’s) and the weekly weigh-ins provided me with an empirical validation that we were in fact doing at least something right. It was also the only time I spent with other moms, as most of my friends at the time were either childless, had older children or were people I met through the Internet. Online friends are great for emotional support, no doubt, but as one of my friends said, sometimes you still need someone to hold the baby while you pee.

Anyway, nothing would prevent me from my weekly visit to the Well Baby Drop-In, even though I was intensely intimidated by all the other moms. It was a lot like high school all over again — seemed (to me, at least) a little clique-y, like everyone knew everyone else and was inviting each other over for coffee or out for a walk. Even though most of them were first-timers too, they all seemed to be more comfortable in their roles as mom-on-the-town — and they all seemed to have better fitting pants, cooler strollers and fancier diaper bags, too. I tried not to care, not to feel inferior, but I did. I’d chat with some of the other moms, but I never felt part of the in-crowd, even when Tristan was an old man of 10 weeks and a new mom would show up with a pink and wrinkly two-weeker. It still seems a little sad that as a woman in my thirties, accomplished and confident in my career and in life, I felt this way.

When Simon was born, there were no weight-gain issues. When you feed every two hours ’round the clock and are so chubby your rolls have rolls, there’s no doubt you’re doing well. And, Tristan was all of 22 months old when Simon was born, so it was more work than it was worth to visit the Well Baby Drop-Ins. We’d go to the playgroups at the Early Years Centre so Tristan could play while I nursed Simon and pondered the limits of human sleep deprivation, but there was never the same feeling of inclusion or exclusion among the moms there — maybe because many of them were caregivers instead of moms, or perhaps I was just too sleep deprived to notice.

So when the ped was finally satisfied that Lucas’s weight-gain was back on track at his two-month appointment and said, “Good work, see you in two months,” I was a little bereft without our weekly weigh-in. I tried to go to the Well Baby Drop-In last week, but we were late arriving and had to leave to pick up the big boys from school before our turn came up. I planned a little better this time, and we managed to get Lucas weighed at least. The public health nurses actually seemed a little put-off by my rather abrupt “weigh him and go” attitude — she asked me three times if I was sure I didn’t have any other questions or concerns, and I kept saying, “Nope, just his weight thanks!” Maybe I looked like I needed help or an intervention of some sort?

What was most surprising to me was how intimidated I was to be back in a waiting room full of new moms and babies, and I found myself again sitting by myself in the corner, too shy to join in any of the conversations going on around me. Once again, they all seemed to know each other and were making plans to strollercize together or to go to the stroller-screening at the cinema. (I’m so glad to live in the kind of neighbourhood that has these things, even if I don’t avail myself to them!) On one hand, the whole thing left me feeling a little lonely and isolated again. Even if I were to start chatting with some of the other mothers, I wouldn’t really be able to socialize with any of them during the day. We’re finally letting the nanny go at the end of this week, and Lucas’s and my days of quiet leisure are at an end as Tristan and Simon will be home with me starting next week. It didn’t seem like any of them had older children at home, and there seems to be a vast chasm between mothers of new babies and mothers of older children sometimes.

On the other hand, though, I was a relieved to not be those new, inexperienced and frightened mothers anymore. I remember how much I looked forward to the interaction with other moms at the drop-in when Tristan was born, and how lonely I was on the other days I stayed home. I remember how eavesdropping on the conversation of other moms was so satisfying, even if I didn’t say anything to myself. “Oh, she’s having a hard time with nursing, too… it’s not just me.” And, “Oh, her baby is only sleeping two hours at a time? Tristan is sleeping all night, I guess I should be grateful!” (Snicker. I had no idea how good I had it at the time!) I’m glad now to have more confidence in my mothering skills, if not my social skills.

The best news is that Lucas continues to gain. He’s up to 12 lbs 14.5 oz, which is a gain of 20 oz in two weeks. The norm is 0.5 oz to 1 oz a day, so he’s doing some great work catching up. We still have two weeks left before Lucas is too old and “graduates” from the well baby program. If I’m feeling especially social, I might drop in next week or the week after to check his weight gain once more. Or maybe I’ll take the time to catch up on a few blog posts – mine or yours. While I may sit in silence when faced with actual people, for some reason I’m never too shy to comment in the blogosphere…

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 renee April 24, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Oh you are playing my song! The drop in baby group intimidated the hell out of me when our daughter was born! Unfortunately I was also suffering from more than sleep deprivation after her birth, so that compounded the feelings. It is so interesting how a group of women, with one big, obvious thing in common can be so divided.

2 Javamom April 24, 2008 at 1:23 pm

I feel like I’m neglecting the baby girl in terms of babyclub and dropins and what have you. But the older one is in half-day daycare, there are renovations going on, a veggie garden that needs planting, and I just seem to be spending so much time cooking these days…who has time? I feel bad sometimes, but then I remember that I too didn’t like the cliques I encountered. I made some half-hearted attempts at joining some of the moms who had same-aged boys as my Benjamin was at the time, and although they were polite, they were, well, polite, you know what I mean? So I just did my own thing and when I saw people I knew at the pools and playgrounds and what have you, it was ok to not be part of the clique but to still “know” them, at least for the children’s sake.

Anyway, mom’s with more than one are busier in different ways than the first-time mom’s of one. Lucas sounds like a dream, and a new chapter will begin when all three will be home with you next week. My friend in Germany, who has 5 between the ages of 11 and 1, said that 3 was harder than 5….sooo, I’ll tune in to see what’s cooking at your place!

3 Chantal April 24, 2008 at 1:25 pm

I so totally found the well baby drop in intimidating. It doesn’t help that my first son was dehydrated and we discovered it a our first drop in visit. The head nurse there pulled me aside and I was devastated and freaking out, thinking I was killing my poor baby. I went back once after that but the fact that I was not nursing full time was hard. The (well meaning, I guess) nurses would tell me that I needed to try harder with the nursing. They had no idea I would cry myself to sleep at night cause I was so upset the nursing hadn’t been good enough. I just stopped going.

4 Renee April 24, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Glad to hear that Lucas is getting bigger by the day! I know your mind is much more at ease.

5 alison April 24, 2008 at 2:25 pm

I remember feeling that way too at the drop-ins, Dani. And you know, there’s a small group of moms at the girls’ school that can still make me feel a little bit that way even today. But I smile politely, think “screw you” and hang out with some of the moms on the street (hee, that sounds funny: Street moms, like it’s a gang – I meant who live on my street) who are more accepting and inclusive. You might find, like I have, as your boys get older, that they make friends who have moms that you’ll click with.

6 Jen April 24, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Oh I’m so glad he’s gaining weight so nicely now! I hated the drop ins the first time around (although loved, and still see, some of the moms), so I avoided it entirely the second time. I figure as long as my son is around other people (something that my daughter would not have been had I not been urged to attend drop ins by my doctors and family), he’s fine — even if those other people are a gang of 4 year old princesses brandishing wands as weapons…

7 Theresa April 24, 2008 at 6:19 pm

It feels so good to hear other moms venting their insecurities. In your mind, you always tell yourself that there MUST be other moms feeling as inadequate as you do sometimes….but the number one rule seems to be ‘fake it till you make it’ and you would NEVER want to let on how you feel…

I am also a ‘drop in’ veteran. (I dropped in, and out, of several – to try and find a good fit. ) I think when you have a room full of mommies trying desperately not to let on how tough it really is, you end up with….well, how it feels at drop ins!!!

Recently I moved, for hubbies work, to Saskatoon. I we knew no one here! Absolutely no one….and taking my son to kindergarten here (two months into school starting) was intimidating as h*ll! But it was the first time in my life (I’m a wee bit shy) that I MADE myself open my mouth and stammer something at the other mom’s there…thinking they had ‘better’ situations and had their ‘stuff’ together turned out to be one big farce! I’ve now made it to two of their homes – and guess what!?! They have more chaotic lives than I do (think dishes piled till u can’t run the sink – or couches so full of laundry u can’t quite sit…) These moms look so put together…yak with other moms…but can’t quite keep up with their own stuff… My house isn’t perfect either, but finally after being a mom for 5 1/2 years, I feel like I’m not the bottom momma in the totem pole! (I think we ALL must feel like that at some point – oh and one of the mama’s I mentioned, is on several PTA things! ) I know this post was long – but I wanted to share this insight, cuz I just don’t believe that ALL of the new mommies out there can have it as together as it looks!

8 Lynn April 25, 2008 at 1:27 pm

So glad to hear that Lucas is doing well! It must be a load off your mind.

I felt the same at the baby drop-ins too — everyone seemed to know each other already. Luckily there were a few other new moms in our neighbourhood that I met at the park, or through friends-of-friends, and we made up our own Mommy group when I was on my first baby.

Now that I’m on my third, though, we’re stuck at home most of the time. Feel free to come on over (I’m in Kanata) and use the swingset!

9 Mac & Cheese April 25, 2008 at 9:26 pm

Oh I know that left-out-high-school feeling well from my early days of mom groups. I don’t know what it is, but cliques certainly prevail in the world of new moms.

10 Jay May 1, 2008 at 9:27 am

I also felt that way at the well baby drop ins. Maybe because I had older kids already, and like you said there is a vast chasm between first-time moms, and …. well…. all the others. So I was that ‘weigh the baby(ies) and get out’ kind of mom too. With my son, it wasn’t quite as bad, I would chat a bit and so on. But when I had the twins, I felt like a freak show. They all stared at me, and whispered, then stared again. So I just wheele my double stroller to the corner, got them ready for their turn, then left as soon as they were done. Thankfully the nurses remembered me from when I brought my son in, and even my oldest daughter too. So I would chat with them, and they knew I didn’t have 8 million ‘new mom’ questions. But I had my own friends, other moms of my kids’ classmates, and mom-friends from our regular playgroup. I didn’t need them. 😉 And like Alison said, as the kids get older, you make friends with the parents of their friends. And in my experience, that works out better anyways.

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