I love this photo. It was taken from a recent Birthready course get together with all the lovely new arrivals. This particular group had been relaxed and fun from the very first session. At this stage in the proceedings I am not too sure that they even needed an organised get together. By the sounds of it there had already been a lot of connection over whatsapp, checking in at 3am to see who else was up feeding too. But it was a delight for me to cuddle every baby and just take pleasure in seeing these amazing new mams and dads doing so well.
It got me thinking of how important it is to have that network of friends who are at the same stage as you with new babies and family. People who understand what it means to be so tired that you can't remember your best friend's name and wear your jeans on back to front (true story). Friends who will celebrate with you over first smiles, a chunk of four hours sleep in a row and are happy when you fill their timeline with baby photos.
Before I became a midwife I used to be a nurse and on occasion did bank shifts in the hospital. I remember well on one occasion where I was helping to care for an elderly lady well into her eighties. We were talking about her best friend and when she would next have a visit with her. The lady told me that they had been best friends ever since they were young women in their early twenties. They had met one afternoon in a park when both pregnant, and had sought shelter from a rain shower under the same tree. The two women had bonded over baby bumps and had become lifelong best friends.
I am blessed enough to have some incredible lifelongers in my own life. Sometimes we are a bit far flung around the world and we don't get to hang out together too often but when we do we just pick up where we last left off. But I am also grateful for the friends who have been around for a just a specific season of life. With my first baby Noah I was invited to a mum and baby group in a rather posh bit of Cardiff. That little group on a Thursday morning provided me with good coffee, homemade cake and a ton of encouragement through some tricky days with the baby who only pooped once a month at times. I genuinely would have struggled without them.
So, I am all for connecting women and families with each other. Whether it happens spontaneously through a meeting under a tree or whether it happens through intentionally engaging in a course ('pay for pals' as my friend calls it). It's the way forward for negotiating the challenge and joy of life with a new baby.