THE IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY

Shortly after Oliver’s birth, I began attending the postpartum classes we registered for when we enrolled in our prenatal education program. More recently, I have also started to attend the parent and infant drop-in sessions offered by our local Community Health Unit.

Not only are these programs a great source of information on topics relevant to parenting infants (e.g. sleep, breastfeeding, soothing techniques, infant development), they are also a wonderful way to connect with other new parents in the community. I am hoping that over time, I will develop friendships with moms who have babies of similar age to Oliver. Maybe I’ll even find some brave souls willing to join me for mom and baby snowshoeing expeditions this winter?

Another benefit of attending these groups is that they provide the opportunity to ask questions of experts and other parents. We are constantly bombarded with information about what is “normal” at any given stage in an infant’s development, and it can be very frustrating or disconcerting when our own experiences do not align with these guidelines. It is comforting to find that others have experienced, or are experiencing, similar challenges, and to hear what they have done to alleviate or overcome them.

And my dirty little secret about why I really enjoy these classes: Sometimes when I’ve had a particular difficult day (or week, as the case may be), hearing about other peoples’ baby problems helps to put my own challenges into perspective. Yes, it’s true. Just when I think I might have the only baby in the world who does or does not do ‘x’, someone else shares a story about their baby who does or does not do ‘y’, and I realize that things could be a whole lot worse.

Case in point: According to the information we received from the Community Health Unit, by two to three months of age, a breastfed infant should be feeding between four and six times per day (compared to eight to twelve feeds in the first couple of months). Apparently Oliver didn’t get that memo, because he still feeds about a dozen times a day, or every 30 to 120 minutes during our waking hours. This can be trying at times because it makes it difficult to get things done during the day when I keep getting interrupted by his feeding demands. But alas, another mother made Oliver’s feeding schedule seem like a dream when she complained that her five-month-old still feeds every hour and a half to two hours overnight. Overnight! See, I don’t have it so bad! 🙂

On a more serious note, being a stay-at-home parent can be very isolating. This is especially the case for those of us who don’t have family support nearby or a close group of friends who are also parents of young children. My community is my support system now, and I plan to take advantage of as many of the available resources as possible.

9 responses to “THE IMPORTANCE OF CONNECTING WITH COMMUNITY

  1. Although not physically close by, family is always there to talk and offer support. They are only a phone call away at anytime day or night.

  2. Isn’t refreshing to know that other mom’s have “issues” too? When your kid is fussy it seems like everyone else has a perfect child. My 5 week old grew 2″ in a month (very long kid, as am I) and is in the 90% for height. He eats ALL the time. Like every 1- 1 1/2 hours. I read somewhere that if you are breastfeeding, you can never feed too much but you can feed too little. So I let him eat whenever he wants. I also remembered what other moms told me about 3 and 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months growth spurts. Likely going to eat and be fussy more then. My mom suggested that he was having growing pains because growing that fast has to hurt.

    I had a ‘breakdown’ moment with baby carriers. Everyone else’s babies seem so happy tucked away in their carriers. Mine hates them and I have every brand, I swear. Maybe when he’s older he’ll like them but for now, he loves to have room to stretch and look around. What can you do? They’re all different.

    • It is refreshing, for sure 🙂 Oliver also eats quite frequently — every 1.5 to 2 hours most days — which sure seems a lot for a kid of his age/size. That’s an interesting suggestion about growing pains. I’d never thought of that, but it sounds like a plausible explanation for the fussing.

      We had some trouble getting Oliver to like carriers, though now he’s reasonably good in the Ergo (unless he’s already fussing before I put him in; then it takes a bit of time and some movement to settle him). I think a lot of it is just getting used to it. The more we use it, the more he tolerates it.

  3. I too was far from family when I had my first two children. Another mother in my neighborhood decided to create a playgroup. Now, for those of us with toddlers and younger it was really about connecting with other mothers and feeling human once a week. But as our children grew it was a great social time for them and a time full of teaching our children and learning great parenting tips from one another. Getting a group of toddlers together and keeping the peace was all we were about for a time. Pretty soon though they are grew to understand sharing and caring for one another was going to get them much further than hitting and stealing toys. Once that phase happened it was joyous! We could then get together as mothers and leave the children to their work of playing (still within earshot or eyesight depending on the setting). I have to say that is what saved me in those years. Flash forward ten years and I was in another town (in a second marriage) and had another child. It was me this time who took it upon her isolated self to form the playgroup. Again, flash forward six years and I have another set of beautiful women in my life who are my family, added to my family of origin and my “family” created from that first playgroup.

    A quick side-note to the playgroup was also a mom’s babysitting group. Each member of the playgroup got 20 poker chips (per child) and they were used as cash to be traded for babysitting hours (1 chip per child, per hour). This way nobody had to pay a sitter and nobody got greedy with time. You couldn’t very well spend chips if you weren’t watching other people’s kids. 🙂 Blessings to you and J on your journey of parenthood.

    • Your idea of using poker chips for babysitting hours is brilliant!! I think I’d like to try that once we get to know some of the parents in our neighbourhood a little bit better. The mom and baby groups have been a great resource so far — both for information and relationships. I’ve met so many really nice people there.

      • Wish I could take credit for the poker chips but it was my best friends idea, the one who started the 1st playgroup I attended. Regardless, its a lifesaver! Glad to contribute to your sanity 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s