When I became pregnant, I really did not realise just how important parenting groups would be to me or coffee houses for that matter.
I was one of those childless ladies who quite frankly was annoyed by mums in Costa. I just didn't get why parents would take their precious babies where there are scolding hot drinks. Now I understand completely, to get out of the fucking house. I also understand now, why women with buggies push that buggy through you before they will stop walking. I thought mums were just rude when it came to buggy etiquette - now I know that the reason they do not stop, is because of the fear that if they do pause to let you go by first, their baby will start crying and that could set off a cascade effect ruining his or her whole routine. Even though it's only 10am it could mean a sleepless night, all because they stopped to be polite and let you by first. I get that now. Believe me, I have taken out many the old man on the pavement with my pram and I have almost driven through red lights just to temper my crying new born so that the rest of the day will remain in some order. But I digress...
The first parent group we went to was National Childbirth Trust or NCT
Ayden and I went to their antenatal classes about 6 weeks before I gave birth. We had been told by some of our other friends, who had already given birth, to go along, so we booked our places nice and early and off we went. Neither of us really wanted to go but neither of us knew anything at all about childbirth or babies for that matter. We thought it would be all breathing exercises and all that jazz. Ayden was adamant he wasn't going to do any role playing or practicals, as he said did enough of that at work. To which I told him not to be starry and do as he was told by the teacher. I was adamant I would not make any mummy friends and just wanted to blend in. To which he told me, not to be so starry and to make friends. So, both of us having been told by the other, reluctantly went to our first session.... but on our best behaviour.
Straight away the teacher recognised me from Cbeebies as her kids were old enough to remember my tired old face, so much for blending in. Everyone from the off was so lovely though. Our teacher Alex was brilliant and made sure we all felt at ease and that all our questions were answered and she didn't make any body do any role play who didn't want to. Ayden threw himself in to it anyway though, of course we both did, being lovies.
The information they went through with us was all invaluable. I found I literally did not know anything at all about babies or giving birth. The other couples were all professional couples and all of them really lovely. I wasn't sure whether we would all keep in touch after the two weekends of classes but we set up a mums-to-be whatsapp group and a dads-to-be whatsapp group, so we all had each others numbers and I really hoped that some of us, at least would stay in contact.
I'm pleased to tell you that 8 months later we are all still friends. In fact I can honestly say that I would not have survived without my NCT pals. There are 8 ladies in my group altogether. All of us from totally different backgrounds. All of us with completely different careers. All of us first time mums. Without these wonderful ladies I probably would have had a nervous breakdown by now. They are generous, great fun, non competitive, totally supportive and just yummy! They all understand that it doesn't matter what rate our babies are developing at all, as long as they are developing it's all good. We applaud each of our babies, as they learn something new and we have shared and learned so much from each other. We have supported each other through our babies being ill, loss of loved ones, court cases and of course drunken nights out.... where I was the only one who hadn't been drinking but still managed to leave my front door open all night, after clip clopping home at 2.30am! It's wonderful now our little ones have started to notice each other and interact too. I hope these will be lifelong friendships. I will always have time for my wonderful NCT ladies and if you are pregnant I cannot recommend their courses enough. Even if it's just to make friends with other ladies in the sisterhood.
If I could dedicate this blog post to anyone, I'd dedicate it to these wonderful ladies ...
Michelle, Therese, Geri, Caroline, Hannah, Alison and of course Lisa. May we have many more Punk Afternoon Teas, at The Baltic Social and if your babies grow up to be half the people you are, they will be magically wonderful and a credit to this world. Thank you for your laughs, using your babies to demonstrate first aid, using your houses as a crèche, helping me not freak out about weaning, supporting me when I took Phoenix on stage, dressed as an Elf to help me and his father turn on the Christmas Lights in Greenwich, even though other mums judged me and for always being there at the click of a whatsapp.