Mum Gang

  Photo by  Lex Sirikiat  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lex Sirikiat on Unsplash

We were the last ones to arrive.

Olly and I rocked up to our first antenatal class ten minutes late and sat sheepishly at the first available seats. We were in a school meeting room. The floors were wooden and the old room echoed. Everyone was silent.

Everyone seemed to be scanning the hall and each other with their eyes. Each mum-to-be sat apprehensively next to her partner with her belly propped out in front of her. Some bumps were big, some round and some barely visible at all.

We were all roughly six to seven months pregnant and had turned up tonight to learn how to PUUUSH. Well, that was what I figured anyway. There would be floor exercises, graphic birthing videos and breathing sessions. Surely there would be. That’s what you do in antenatal class, right?

You learned how to do EVERYTHING, right?

Yeah, I was wrong about that.

Make no mistake - there were graphic birthing videos (from the 80s might I add; someone also fainted, great fun!), there was a breathing exercise and at one point we all had to bring along a soft toy and pretend like we were breastfeeding it. But at the end of our five weeks I felt no more prepared for labour and birth than I did before I attended the classes.

All the information had washed over my head completely. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to hear it?

Despite my inability to retain any labour-related information, I won’t ever knock a mother wanting to attend an antenatal class. It’s important to go.

You need to have the opportunity to learn about all the horrendous things that are about to happen to your body. You also need the opportunity to meet other first time parents and form a coffee group. Because I’ll tell you right now that the best thing I got from my antenatal class was a group. A gang.

A mum gang.

We made a group on Facebook with all of the antenatal mums as soon as our antenatal class wrapped up and one by one, each lady messaged the group with the news of her labour day and the wee babe that came with it.

Labour day…  To expectant mothers it means so much more than just a long weekend in October!

When Ashton was a couple of weeks old I eagerly organised a coffee date with everyone because I felt I needed to get out of the house. After that, every fortnight we would meet.

I can’t tell you how amazing it was to have a support network of other new mums in those first few months. It was here that we discussed how the antenatal classes AND Birthcare nurses had misled us; how everything was sooo different once you took your baby home with you. It was so relieving and so freeing to hear what I was going through was normal and that it was okay.

Naturally, as happens in a social group, you connect more with some mothers than you do others. Eight months in to my parenthood journey, I’m pretty stoked to say that I’ve found a couple of other mums who feel like they have been in my life forever.

Mia and Maryam tried out the Mums and Bubs boot camp that I attend and it became our Thursday ritual to sweat and then go for a massive lunch afterwards. It usually took up a whole day!

We come from completely different backgrounds. One whitey, one Pilipino and one Iraqi. We’re actually like real life Neapolitan Ice cream (I’m the pink one, unfortunately). But despite our differing cultures, we have a couple of ginormous things in common: We have babies, we love to talk, we love to laugh and we LOVE to hang out.

It doesn’t matter who you have in your support networks, or how you’ve met them, or how many of them you have. But it is so important to have other mums you can talk to and call on. I’m so thankful for ALL my mum friends, the ones I see a little, and the ones I see a lot. I’m thankful for the ones I can have lunch with, or go walking with, or just sit and chat with. I’m thankful for the ones with older kids who tell me just to go with the flow. I’m thankful for the ones trying all the different parenting techniques under the sun so that I don’t have to. I’m thankful for the ones who hate being a mum and for the ones who tell me it’s their passion and life-calling. I’m thankful for the ones I’ve met on social media. You ALL offer me insight and friendly advice, but more importantly you offer me companionship – and I need that almost as much as I need my morning coffee.

Mia and Maryam, thank you for the laughs. Thanks for the two hour long lunches where we’d eat, cry and keep each other company while still looking after our babies.

Thanks for the midnight messenger chats where we’re honest about how hard parenting can be. Thanks for trying out my boot camp, it meant a lot. Thank you for opening up your homes and your hearts. Thanks for being the kind of people I can be real and honest with.

Most of all, thank you for keeping me sane on the days where I feel like I want to run away and join a circus. Actually… Thank you for being my circus.

I’m so glad we get to do this crazy mum thing together.

Rachel Chen