As I have said previously, none of my peer group of close friends had had babies when I was pregnant, or indeed had my own baby. This left me at a distinct disadvantage with regard to planning play dates or even just socialising – the best cafes (newer, hipster, slightly better coffee) always seemed to be inaccessible and as cute as they did find my son, the lack of conversation on his part (and the lack on my own, between only having baby things to talk about and being distracted by him) was definitely a deterrent. I noticed them pull away a bit and so was left in a bit of a twilight zone. Enter the Mammy and Baby groups.
I heard about the Cuidiu group from a friend of a friend who was having her second baby around the same time as I was having E. They meet weekly in members houses, and once a month in the cafe in Marks & Spencers in Douglas, which wasn’t too far from me. Three weeks into motherhood, I was tired, I was stressed, and I was overwhelmed but knew I needed to get out of the house, so headed off on the bus to Douglas and was greeted by a really friendly group of women who had babies and toddlers, and the same levels of sleep deprivation as I had; they’d just had more practice. Having an understanding ear and a hot cup of tea (as I was breastfeeding coffee was off limits) really did make all the difference in the early days, and it was really nice to talk to people who got it. While I had lots of support from family, there was definitely a difference in it being people who were going through the same thing at the same time, a form of allegiance, survival buddies as such.
Around the same time I started attending, I had heard things about the group being one of those “militant breastfeeding” groups. From my experience, and I’ve been to a few of these meets, nothing could be further from the truth. While breastfeeding is supported, especially with the addition of the lovely Geraldine Cahill, a breastfeeding tutor and antenatal teacher who is more than happy to assist anyone with latch or other issues, it isn’t shoved down your throat or forced upon you, and if like me you turn to bottle feeding before the six month mark, you aren’t vilified. When the time came to give up breastfeeding for me at nine weeks, it was something I had an issue with for a number of reasons in my own head, and the support of this group was fantastic.
Going back to work I had to forfeit these mornings for a while, and I actually found that I missed them. I also felt that as E was growing bigger that I was missing the chance to integrate him with other kids, so when I got the chance to go this month I jumped at it. He’s currently very active, pulling himself up onto everything and starting to crawl, so he was well able to make his way around the floor and interact with other kids – carefully watched to ensure no toy was grabbed out of turn. I found it really good to be able to chat to other mothers in the same area and even managed to find some from my own area that I’m planning on having coffee with soon – bonus!
If you’re looking for other Mammys in your area and up for an informal chat over coffee, where babies and toddlers can play (theres a LOAD of toys provided), this should be right up your alley. While this is the Cork City one in Douglas(for more info, click here), Cuidiú is countrywide, and more information about finding your local branch can be found here. I’d definitely give it a try – if all else fails, the coffee is good and you’ve gotten out of the house, but you’re likely to enjoy.
Apologies to those of you who got a very unfinished copy of this as an update earlier, thanks are due to the WordPress iOS app for that one…