Over the weekend Pip and I got together with two of the mommies & babies from the Mommy & Me class we went to when she was just an itsy bitsy peanut. We hadn’t seen them in about 10 months, so it was a delight to see how the kids have grown and to catch up.
Taking a Mommy & Me class was one of the best decisions I made as a new mom. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into (with the class..and partly with parenthood, ha ha) but here’s the short list of why I loved it:
- Having to go to the class got me and Pip out of the house. It gave us a place to be, once a week, at a specific time. This gave me practice with getting us both up and at least semi-presentable, fed and happy and in the car on time. Doing this was at first very daunting yet with this practice it became so much easier as we developed a routine, a “checklist” of sorts for things we’d need on our trip, and just basic experience being in the car or out in the world with an infant. The plus of heading to a Mommy & Me class is that other moms understood if someone ran a little late, and there was always someone to loan a diaper to you if you forgot one!
- Seeing other babies in the class helped me realize a few things: ABC (all babies cry). Phew! What a relief! ;) Not only do all babies cry, but there’s nothing to panic about if your baby cries. Like most situations, staying calm is the best thing you can do with your little one. In fact, there are some great soothing techniques you can learn when you’re in a supportive environment like this and your baby is fussing. Seeing other babies Pip’s age also reassured me that Pip was at the “right” stage developmentally, and in some cases it gave me insight into what stage was coming next.
- Being out and about with an infant forces you to learn how to deal with two challenges that come up no matter where you go with a baby: feeding and diapering. Trust me when I say that the perfect place to learn how to master this is in a private classroom with other moms also dealing with their new squirming bundles of joy. Dirty diaper? No problem… grab the clean diaper and wipes, the pad, lay down the baby and do a change. Hungry mouth to feed? No problem! Cozy up in a Boppy, give the baby that breast, maybe use a cover, and nurse away. These two things are your new priorities in life now, so learning the tips and tricks to smooth feedings and diapering is incredibly helpful.
- But far and above, the very best thing about the Mommy & Me classes were the mommies. In my case, we were all new mommies and we ALL were facing the same challenges and adventures at the same time. It was INCREDIBLY reassuring to hear a mom voice her concern, uncertainty, exhaustion, frustration, confusion, you name it, that echoed my own feelings and experiences. Even if we didn’t have a solution, just knowing that “this is normal” (for whatever “this” was- from lack of sleep to questions about bonding to post-baby body issues) was a big comfort in this foreign land of motherhood. And sometimes there even were solutions: try a sound machine, try this type of swaddle, try this latch….
- After each class the instructor encouraged the moms to go out for something to eat together. Using our common ground (the babies!) we got past the stranger-stage and made the effort to get lunch. And what an effort it was! We’d each prepare our babies, pack up the diaper bags, unfold the strollers or spin the yards of wrap around us, and then walk the few blocks to the baby-friendly cafe. We’d balance ordering food and baby soothing, eating while nursing, chatting while rocking… just doing normal activities while also adjusting your radio dial to the new high frequency sound of life with baby.
The topics at the Mommy & Me class ranged from life with baby to sleep to breastfeeding to baby massage to development to returning to work… lots of times it wasn’t even the topic as much as it was the comradery that naturally developed from going through all these changes and facing the unknown at same time.
But what an exciting and beautiful unknown it really was.