Friday, February 8, 2013

Finding Support

Another Friday, and another lack of Quick Takes.

Before I attempt to put pen to ink, or fingers to keyboard, please keep the following caveats in mind while reading this post: 1. I am immensely grateful for the gift of my little girl, baby boy, and Rachel (in heaven). My infertility journey has never left my mind. 2. My husband and I made the decision together to have me stay home with the kids. It is a hard job, but one we think is best for our particular family.

The reason for these caveats is because my post could come across as ungrateful and complaining. Rather, I hope to illustrate a gaping need in this point in my life as a newbie mom: the need for support.

Support groups (formal or informal) exist for a reason: some of the best support one can receive comes from others in the same situation or ordeal. This holds true for groups for cancer patients/survivors, AA, Celiac Diseas and the like. Teachers (or those married to one) best understand other teachers.  Youth ministers best understand fellow youth ministers.

Back in the early days of Infertility, I found it quite isolating. The advice and consolation of people who had endured it helped me tremendously. As more friends and acquaintances became aware of the situation, they became more empathetic. But there was always something extra special talking with someone who had traversed the same waters. My mom could still recall her feelings from going through IF 35+ years ago and knew very well of my hardship. Several other women from various circles (church, school, etc.) began to offer support and advice too. I started my blog and met other IF bloggers at various stages in their journey. And one of THE best resources, the SHE infertility group, took shape and form.

Then 2010 came, and life changed dramatically with the arrival of my baby girl. While a new baby isn’t a walk in the park, for the most part KB’s first year was pretty smooth. The baby carrier made going places easier, and there was no chasing involved in our errands. We were able to do more activities outside the home. She would sit through Mass contentedly.

A couple years later, the toddler years have really thrown me off the wagon. My experience with this age group is very lacking; I skillfully avoided babysitting kids under the age of 5 while in high school and never taught students younger than 3rd grade. I was 4 years old when my little sister was born and don’t remember much. So my only experience has been KB. (Lucky her, ha ha ha!)

But what’s beginning to happen is that life has REALLY changed. A typical day’s schedule is more rigid; nap times have become sacred. In addition, parenting has really started. Tantrums. Drama. Yadda Yadda.

I know a few moms of toddlers, but most of them work outside of the home. Quite a few other friends have cute babies that haven’t reached the same stage yet. I have been attending an excellent Bible Study at our local cathedral; but that has seen a huge decline in young women’s attendance. Most of the ladies in my small group are retired or have a daughter my age.

The lack of a supportive group of moms in the same stage has left a gaping hole.  The days of staying at home with a toddler can be challenging, as All You Who Hope can attest in her most recent blog post (and she has 2 toddlers, 1 newborn!).

So, a new mission has begun: it’s time to find some toddler moms for support and companionship. Perhaps 50 years ago this would have come in the form of a neighborhood full of kids, where the moms would help each other and offer the newbies advice. Or if we attended another Christian denomination, there would be a mom’s group. Sadly, most Catholic parishes tend to focus activities on school age children. My parish doesn’t have much that would help a mom, and if I suggested it to my pastor, he would tell me to start my own group (can’t blame him, but the timing is rather bad).

From what I can tell so far, the solution will be to find the right group. My spiritual director advised me to take these last couple months before Baby Boy arrives to research existing groups. Our local Cathedral has a moms’ group that also offers childcare. I've also checked out a Christian MOPS group. And there may be a few that surprise me.

This need has become so critical that I’m officially pulling back from just about every activity except for Irish Dancing and a couple other things. While a group may not solve everything, it will provide some relief when toddler tantrums leave me guessing. The first time a fellow IF survivor told me that she avoided baby showers during her journey, I felt so relieved. The IF support group provided a way for women to walk through a difficult period of life and come out as friends. I hope for the same camaraderie in this new stage of my life.

Time to grab some binoculars! 


Perfect Power in Weakness said...

I just joined a local MOPS group (even though my baby is only 9 months). They have childcare and while it's only twice a month, it's a fun outlet for ideas and support. I'd think MOPS could be an easy addition to one (or several) different support groups you join. Good luck finding one/a few!

Suzie-Q T-Pie said...

Well, you just need to move up this way!!! ;) I just joined a local moms group, and it is just for our local area. I've only been to one meeting so far, and I know that it will be so helpful as I continue to stay home and figure out this crazy new life!
I hope you find one that works out for you!

Kasclar said...

Definitely check out the MOMS group at the cathedral. A friend of mine was involved for a few years (LM, you may know her?) and she loved it. I think you would really enjoy it too. If nothing else, for the break to spend some time with adults while the kids play in the nursery. If I were home with the kids, I'd definitely be going to that.

Maureen said...

I can relate to your situation in many ways. When you were 4, John was 2 1/2 and I was 6 months pregnant with Beth, we moved to where we did not know a soul. It was probably one of the hardest couple of years I ever experienced. We had the nursery at church on Sundays but there was no moms group that I knew of. Had a group like that been available to me, our first years in Sacramento may not have been so lonely. I hope you find a group or some other moms in your situation. They are out there and they may be looking for you too!

Percolating Petals said...

So glad to hear that others liked the moms' groups too! Suzie, one of these days we will have to meet up.

John said...

I more or less understand and feel the same way... not for a mom's group but a men's group. There's nothing at our parish (although we have a great men's retreat every summer) and of the couple guys I've talked to about starting something, everyone's too busy with work & families. I agree, those sorts of groups can be so life-giving! I hope the MOPS group works out. And I know you don't take your family/life/etc. for granted; you seeking this would help you be a better mom & wife and prevent you from burning out and going nuts. (at least more than usual) :)

MichaelandPenelope McCollum said...

I joined the east Louisville Chapter of the MOMS Club last April. Here is the link for the chapters in Lexington:

It has been an awesome experience for Maggie and me to go on playdates and for MOMS Night Outs, as well as other activities. See what you think.

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