We spent time with good friends yesterday, the first friends I made with Ava as a newborn. I ventured out to a new parent group, sponsored by a local community program, with Ava when she was 2 months old. I still had that starry-eyed expression of all new mothers, apprehensive that the baby might fuss, or that I might have to nurse in front of a group of strangers, but certain that my baby was going to be the sweetest and cutest one in the group.
I got out of my car, wrestling Ava's infant seat from the back of our Honda CR-V, and I met a woman walking in with her baby. She seemed confident, as though she knew what she was doing, and so I clung to her while she showed me the ropes and introduced me to a few other people.
She was my lifeline to a group of new mothers experiencing the same challenges at the same time. We would go for coffee and talk for hours about poopy diapers, feeding schedules, sleeping patterns, and the smallest smiles or turns of our baby's heads. New motherhood is a country that you must have a valid passport to enter, and those friendships are critical to your survival in your baby's first year or two of life.
It really is true that friendships forged under stressful or major life events are forever. Both of my university roommates/suitemates are still close friends, and these new mom friends are as comfortable as a favourite pair of pajamas. There are no awkward conversation gaps, just friends who have been through a lot together, and survived, and lived to tell the tale.
Now, whenever I watch new mothers beginning their journey with their newborns, I think back fondly on those days, and I'm grateful for these friends that I made. I wouldn't go back to the broken sleep, and the feeding every three hours, and the worry about doing it right, but I have some very good memories of those early days, and in large part it is due to these friends. We got through the tough spots together, and celebrated the milestones and birthdays as a group, and are still enjoying each other's company long after we are finished with diapers and bottles.