This story goes out to any new parents struggling to make connections and feel like themselves again.
Lonely and isolated at home with an eight week old baby, I desperately longed for companionship with people in the same season of life. Instead of continuing to perfect my cyberstalker skills on Facebook, I convinced myself I should go to an in-person Moms group meet-up.
Watching these other women online with their inside jokes, supporting each other, and having happy-friend time, left me thinking:
Can I have some of that?
Despite the fact that putting myself out there with new people felt a bit like showing up to school naked with chicken pox, I forced myself to go.
Now we all know that taking a little baby anywhere is kind of like packing up your entire house to move to a new one.
I made sure I had diapers, wipes, a changing pad, extra baby clothes, swaddle blankets, burp cloths, a water bottle for me, my phone, an umbrella, a sewing machine, a shovel, a rake… Everything stuffed into my fancy Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag (that I thought would change my life but didn’t), and we were finally off!
With their babies and toddlers running around in the giant hall, at least thirty moms or more were sitting in a big circle on the floor. They were chatting and catching up, looking like deeply connected soul mates. I found a spot and tried to make myself comfortable. That proved difficult with the words NEW GIRL tattooed on my forehead.
Eventually the group leader began the discussion and welcomed everyone. She announced this week would be all about sharing birth stories and asked if anybody would like to start. Other than a bit of baby chatter, the room was quiet. Nobody volunteered. In the face of anxiety, and trying to be a good sport, I regrettably offered to share my birth story.
Maybe THIS is how you make mom friends? Just put yourself out there.
To overcome my nerves, I spoke in a really loud voice without realizing it. You know that weird and awkward girl you’re not quite sure about, so you keep your distance from at first. I’m pretty sure that was me.
A couple moms asked questions and tried to be responsive, but overall it felt like my story landed in a soppy mud pit, was slowly swallowed up and quickly forgotten.
Maybe I should have been a quiet observer for my first meeting. This is what I get for trying to participate.
But the worst was yet to come. After my group debut bombed worse than the movie Battlefield Earth, I retreated and focused on taking care of my baby. In a new space outside of our normal routine, we were both a little irritable by this point. While nursing my son, the milk was coming too fast and furious so he broke the latch in a splutter.
And that is when it happened.
With my bare breast exposed for the world to see, enough milk to feed all the babies present sprayed out in a glorious exhibit akin to the gigantic Bellagio fountain display in Las Vegas. It was truly an awe-inspiring, sensational disaster.
Did you know that milk comes from many openings in the nipple, called milk duct orifices?
These tiny holes number from around 4 to 20 per breast. Well, on that lovely morning, it looked more like 100 orifices, each spraying with the power of a fire hose. As I tried to get my baby latched back on I managed to cover his face, the floor and everything in sight with milk. In horror, I finally pulled my shirt down and stood up to calm my baby. Like a curtain coming down in the theater, the show was over.
I guess this is ALSO why we stay home.
Even though I was embarrassed I had to give myself credit.
You TRIED. There will be better days. These people will forget about you but you will always have a delightful memory of the day you were a human spray park for your baby.
In the early days of parenthood we are all just figuring it out. You don’t have to show up if you’re not ready. Give yourself time as you need to settle into your new role. Be easy on yourself, and have a chuckle as you think of me drenched in milk.