The one thing that no one ever tells you about being a new mum is how isolating it can be. I wasn't prepared for how lonely I would feel.
People told me about the sleepless nights and the extreme tiredness. People tell you that your relationship might be rocky for a while as you adjust to your new roles. They tell you horror stories about how their baby screamed for 3 months straight with colic and they tell you happy stories about how their little bundle of joy has enriched their lives in a way they didn't realise was possible. They tell you about the hard work and they tell you about the rewards. No one ever really tells you how lonely you will be everyday when all the company you have is a 3 month old baby and a ginger cat. No one tells you that your friends wont come round anymore.
Whilst you are pregnant people tell you about the things you can do together when the baby is here. They tell you not to worry and that you will have their support and they will come over all the time. In reality its rare they show up. Having a baby really opens your eyes to who your friends really are... and unfortunately it can be a harsh wake up call.
I don't know what it is about a baby that scares people away but people act as if your baby is contagious. Like just spending time with you might mean they will catch a baby somehow and they will find themselves looking as exhausted as you in 9 months time. Maybe it is because they do not know how to interact with your baby, or can not adjust to your new routine or the fact your coffee is often interrupted by crying or a trip to the other room for a nappy change. Maybe they keep telling themselves that they are going to come round yet when the day comes they freak out at the prospect of having to present themselves as a responsible adult for the whole of a few hours and decide to try again another day.
Whatever their reasons, they don't come round and they don't call.
As a result I have been feeling more and more isolated and therefore more and more annoyed and angry with my surroundings. I was becoming obsessive about every tea stain on the table and every mark on the sofa. I have had an overwhelming urge to collect all my stuff and put it all in the dustbin in an attempt to start a fresh in a clean and tidy house. This is unrealistic and a result of spending to much time alone in these four walls. This is unhealthy and it needed to change!
On Sunday evening I made the decision that I was no longer going to let myself sit in at home worrying about the house work or feel bad about little art I was having the time to create whilst feeling alienated and lonely. I made the decision that this week I was going to out and meet people. I committed to visiting a baby clothes swap organised by a Facebook friend at the local Buddhist centre. I figured I could get Eli some trousers that actually fit him (he grows so quick) whilst mingling with some other mums and hopefully attempting to make some new friends. Friends with babies. Friends who might actually get where my life is at right now. Friends that might actually want to see me.
I am so glad I made myself leave the house on Monday morning. On the way to the Buddhist centre a mum stopped me in the street to tell me about a baby and toddler group that happens on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the church on the corner. She told me to come along sometime and that she was really nervous the first time she went to a mum's group but when she did she wished she had done so sooner. She understood by looking at me just how isolated I felt. I turned around and went along with her. You will make new friends Jenna no matter how scary it may seem!
I nervously drank tea and chatted to lots of people until the group ended. On the way home I popped in to the clothes swap I had originally planned to go to and feeling a bit more confident sat down afterwards in the baby group hosted at the Buddhist centre. By the time I got home I was feeling more positive then I have felt for weeks now. I went again this morning and left with the same positive sense of well being.
I think I am going to make this a weekly if not twice a week thing for a while to get to know people better and to drag my head out of the hole I was beginning to fall down. I am glad I plucked up the courage to go. On the days I have been to these two groups I have felt happier, calmer and less irritated by the housework. Maybe I should have gone out sooner.
Here is a picture of Eli playing with the toys at the baby group today. He was happy and smiley playing on the mat and seemed to enjoy the sing time session we sat and watched...