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.