So I went to my first “new moms” group meeting last week. It took me nearly six months to finally do it. I’d been reluctant to even get together with other moms who aren’t familiar with my situation, and even some who are. We go to our monthly adoption support meetings which include newly formed families (as well as birth family members and prospective parents). But I haven’t been able to bring myself to join a whole group of women and their newborns with all the talk of babies, birth and breastfeeding, etc. I get enough of that from my friends and family, thank you very much. Why opt for more?
I know it’s good for both of us to get out of the house more often and to socialize Baby J with babies around her age. I figured it might be good to try to talk with other moms about various issues that arise too — like, for example, babies who rarely nap, introducing solids, that sort of thing. A new group was forming and it was literally right across the street from my house. So I figured what the hell, I can always leave, right? So I took a few deep breaths, packed up the stroller, braced myself, and went along.
There were only three other moms, two with tiny newborns in slings and one with a toddler too old for the group. I should say that I live in an area heavy on the neo-hippie attachment parenting, big on co-sleeping, baby wearing, home births, extended nursing, stay at home parenting, etc. I’ve done some of those things myself. But here I was with my formula-fed baby in a stroller. I was way more out of shape than these fabulously fit glowing women who you’d never know had just given birth two months ago were it not for the squishy newborns attached to their nipples.
Not even 10 minutes had passed before the boobs came out and the two new moms were nursing and comparing birth stories. I sat there somewhat awkwardly, even though I think breastfeeding is the most natural thing, when you can do it. There they were, talking about their planned home births (both ended up in the hospital), their love of nursing (both babies took to it so well), and how no one can satisfy their babies without the boob (not even their husbands).
Soon enough, they turned to me and one of them said, “So tell us about your birth experience.”
“Well actually,” I said, “we adopted her at birth.”
A moment of quiet, and a single “oh…”
I went on, “She was born at home, at her birth mom’s home, and we were lucky enough to be there.”
Surprise. “Really?” Their ears perked up at the mention of the home birth since neither of theirs worked out. They seemed surprised that we were there too.
“Yes,” I said, “I even got to catch her. Not many women can say that!” Agreed.
They asked more about how we found K and about the openness aspect. I explained how the ongoing contact has been beneficial for everyone, how our family has extended to include hers.
Strike one for a little open adoption education.
And hey, at least I’d been to a home birth, even if it wasn’t my own. Right?
Eventually the conversation turned from general topics such as sleeping to more complicated issues (for me) such as family building. Just as with breastfeeding and so many other topics, I was left cold. How close together, how far apart, how you can ovulate while nursing, what the next birth plan will look like, how the siblings will get along, etc.
Just so much taken for granted. When they are ready it will happen. As if it’s a sure thing.
As if it’s even an option.
Then the discussion about who looks like who, which features came from where. All I can say is “she looks like her birth mom.”
I honestly don’t know whether I’ll go back. I actually liked one of the women, but I just feel like no one “gets” me. Not just with this small group, but all of our parenting friends and family. They keep on having babies, growing their families to just the right size however and whenever they want. Even now that I’m a mom, it’s hard not only to join those conversations but even to listen to them.
At our adoption support group, many of the families have experienced infertility and loss. All of them are in very open adoptions. It’s just SO much easier. I don’t have to explain a thing. It’s just understood. There’s a comfort in knowing that even if we have nothing else in common, we share the beautiful way in which we have built our families. We share common views about adoption at least. We encounter similar challenges and issues. I don’t feel on guard, defensive, insecure, inadequate.
It’s not that I feel like an inadequate mother — although I’m sure there will be moments when I will — I’ve had plenty of time to think about what kind of mother I want to be, and not. I know what I can be, and what I can’t be to Baby J.
It’s just that these little gatherings are not really affirming for me. I want to get something from them, but it seems that I always need to explain something. Sure I can talk about sleepless nights and exciting new developmental milestones. I can marvel at the incredibly sweet nature of my child. I can feel happy watching her with other children. I can feel joy in being her mama.
But I still don’t fit in.