It’s rapidly coming up to 2 years since I tentatively wheeled my still-shiny Bugaboo into the local health centre – and met a group of women I now can’t imagine life without.

About 5 or 6 weeks after Millie arrived, I joined the neighbourhood new parent group for those with babes born July-Sept 2013.

I remember the day so clearly for some reason.

I had walked there and my precious new baby girl had fallen asleep. I scooped her up and she slept in my arms for the duration of the meeting. She pretty much slept through every mothers’ group catch-up, some of the mums joking that they hadn’t seen her eyes for weeks.

There were 20 of us at that first meeting, our prams lined up on one side of the room, the nervous new mums jiggling their babies – some feeding, some grizzling, some squirming – and nappy bags at our feet full to the brim with the newborn essentials.

A sample of some of the things going through my head on day one:
“That bub looks comfy in that car capsule. Maybe I should have bought one?”
“She’s rocking the maxi skirt. Good idea. I’m sick of slouchy pants.”
“Ooh, twins!”
“Millie’s not the only baby with a dummy.”
“She might wake soon and will want a feed. I don’t want to be the first one to pop a boob out.”
“Everyone’s a mum here. No-one will care if I pop a boob out.”
“I like that swaddle. I wonder where it’s from?”
“For bubs of a similar age, they’re all different shapes and sizes.”

Our scheduled health centre meetings turned to cafe catch-ups. Numbers started to dwindle.

New mums, new friends. Millie (bottom right) with Henry, Oliver, Harry, Olivia and Henry.

But a core group stuck together. Rain, hail or sleepless night, we’d meet each week, cuddle our babies and ask each other for advice.

We shared horror stories, frustrations and sleep suit recommendations.

Sometimes we wouldn’t say much. We were happy enough with our efforts to get ourselves out of the house.

Olivia and Millie at one of the first mums’ group meetings.

We’ve now moved our catch-ups to a community playgroup and a bigger space to match the size of our once-compact bundles.

We’ve enjoyed the string of first birthdays and watching our children hit the milestones.

We’ve loved to be able to openly about our motherhood experience without judgment and without worrying about boring the person we’re talking to. It’s babies, babies, babies – and that’s how we like it.

Tucking in to fruit at the mums’ group Christmas party last year at Elsternwick Park.

I’ve heard horror stories of mothers’ groups likened to a bitchy high school clique or some mums who put other mums down for co-sleeping/using a dummy/not breastfeeding.

But not in this group. We just hit it off.

We listen. We vent. We cry. We’re supportive. We are so fortunate to have each other.

We’re now sharing in the ups and downs of second pregnancies and all the complications, new arrivals, Vegas weddings and tentative steps back into the workforce.

My friend Bel once said that the friendships formed after having a baby was one of the most underrated aspects of motherhood. I agree completely. I knew that having a baby would change my life for the better, but the bond I have with this group of women is an unexpected bonus.

Some new mums don’t even bother attending a mothers’ group. And it’s fine, it’s not compulsory. But my advice is to go along, see what vibe you get, say hello. It won’t hurt. Even if you only hit it off with one other mum, that’s someone to go walking with, have a coffee with. Adult conversation in the early days is important because you can feel isolated once you’re caught in the feed/sleep/play baby bubble.

A group that plays together, stays together.

Millie’s made some friendships too. She’s been playing with this beautiful group of children since she was a bubba and now will even recognise her little buddies in a crowded playground.

So to Yvette, Ingrid, Fiona, Karen, Leanne, Marina, Mariana, Rachael, Kellie, Lisa and Loren – Happy Mother’s Day. You guys are the bestest.

I’d love to know about your mothers’ group experiences. Leave a comment below

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