Getting Out with a Baby

by Amber Strocel on October 4, 2009

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Having your first baby is a huge adjustment. In a very short time period you go from a young child-free working woman to being alone at home with only an infant for company. For many of us it’s the first time we’ve even held a baby this small, and now we’re solely responsible for keeping the wee bundle alive. It’s sort of mind-blowing if you think about it.

I spent most of my early days with my firstborn Hannah breastfeeding. She would sometimes nurse for 45 minutes or more, so I fed her on the couch while I watched TV. A high point of my day was visiting the bathroom by myself or having two free hands to eat. It was amazing to be totally at the mercy of my baby. I lived and died by her whims (or my best guess as to her whims) in spite of how completely defenseless she was.

I realized very early on in parenting that I had two choices. I could spend my days at home alone watching reruns and feeling sorry for myself. Or I could get out of the house and find someone, anyone, to talk to. Someone who could understand how my world had been totally upended and why I sometimes secretly wondered if was even cut out for motherhood. Given those two options, I chose to get out of the house.

Hannah and I at library babytime

Hannah and I at library babytime

I went online and searched out activities. Pretty soon I set up an informal routine that had me doing something almost every day of the week. We went to library baby time, mom and baby yoga, strollerobics, swimming lessons, church, La Leche League, and community mom-and-baby groups. We went on playdates with much older kids, and visited friends almost any time we were asked. I seized almost any reason to get out of the house and interact with others.

It saved my sanity, it really did. I was still sleep-deprived and unkempt, but I was no longer alone. It wasn’t always easy for me to get myself out the door, and it didn’t come all that naturally to cultivate new relationships. New moms are sort of like 13-year-olds at a school dance. We all want to get out on the floor, but no one really wants to make the first move, so we end up stuck on the sidelines looking at each other. Which is why I think playgroups help, because they provide a low-risk way to interact and meet people.

I still feel like playgroups are saving my sanity 4 1/2 years later. I’ve made some really great friends and cultivated a fabulous support network. I feel like I have more balance in my life – that I’m meeting my own needs along with my children’s needs. I believe we are all the happier for it.

Amber’s daughter Hannah is now 4 1/2 and joined by her 13-month-old brother, Jacob. You can read more of their adventures at Strocel.com.

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Amber Strocel (29 Posts)

Amber is a hippie mama to two, a writer, a dreamer, a student, an erstwhile engineer and a lover of chocolate. She lives in suburban Vancouver with her family and one very cranky tabby cat. Keep up with her on her blog at Strocel.com.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Naomifrederickmd October 5, 2009 at 7:30 am

Playgroups really helped me too!

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Kelly Coyle DiNorcia October 5, 2009 at 12:11 pm

I totally agree that new parenthood can be very isolating, and that getting out and about is a huge sanity-saver. I would caution, though, against the assumption that all AP moms have the same experience of going from work to home that you seem to make in the first paragraph. Many attached mothers do not have the option to stay home because of financial reasons, and some choose to continue to work. Those moms’ transitions to motherhood can be equally shocking, if different from that of the stay-at-home mother.

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Amber October 5, 2009 at 7:24 pm

That’s a good point, Kelly. I actually did return to work after Hannah was born, but I am Canadian and so I received a year-long maternity leave. It was long enough that I did have the ‘work-to-home’ experience. I sometimes forget that many American mothers don’t have much time at home with their babies. I do know, certainly, that you are able to foster a strong attachment to your babies whether you have to return to work immediately or not.

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Naomifrederickmd October 6, 2009 at 6:37 am

We have a number of working mothers (and fathers!) in our local group and even if they are not around during the weekdays we do try to have some things on weekends and evenings. Even those that work can benifit from a connection to like minded families.

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Tasha October 7, 2009 at 11:03 am

It’s so funny because I remember in the first few weeks after my daughter was born and my husband was back at work, I would actually be excited to go to her doctors apt., and not just because I was happy to hear everything was going well. I was sooo happy to be in public :) Now my friends think I’m crazy because I take her EVERYWHERE! Nothing stops us, I throw her in the sling and off we go!

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MJacinto January 7, 2010 at 12:31 am

I am so glad I found this blog!! Lately things have been stressful for me. My daughter is 3 1/2 months old and I am trying to justify why I’m not going back to work. I love being with my child, but I doubt my ability to play the role of Super Mom. I am so envious of mothers in playgroup; they sew, they’re healthy, they have patience for cloth diapering and cloth wiping, great at gentle discipline, great at home-schooling(5 yo telling me all about the periodic chart!!!) , these women are in shape!, their children are happy and most of all, these mothers seem to LOVE it!!!! I would like to be an AP mom like this, but all I can think about is my previous nursing job and my patients!!! :-(

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