Advice for M
Several months ago, a friend of mine (let’s call her M) asked for some recommendations for essential items for her new baby. I sent her a list with this letter as part of it. Later I shared it the actual BFC, and they loved it. So now, I’ve decided to share it with the world at large:
Advice for M
The rocker in our apartment in Arlington was next to a window, and while I nursed Ike I could see the apartment shuttle come and go. It was early May and the women were wearing breezy skirts and sandals. They had somewhere to go, and I was wistful. I missed it. Not the job, but the having somewhere to go. And the sandals. I was starting to get lonely home alone with Ike.
One Tuesday morning when Ike was three weeks old, I planned an outing. We would go to Target, and then to the Breastfeeding Center in Georgetown to buy a part for my breast pump. Target went off without a hitch. Ike slept all morning, but by the time we got to the Breast Feeding Center, he was starting to wake up. I bought my part. “Do you want to stay for the New Mom Support Group?” asked the woman behind the desk. I hesitated. Breastfeeding was actually the one thing that had been smooth sailing. I didn’t see how I needed a support group. But then, I did need a place to nurse Ike. I decided to stay.
The support group both was and wasn’t what I expected. Everyone sat in a circle, two or three deep in some places, in a crowded room. We introduced our babies and ourselves (“This is Ike and he’s three weeks old,” I said proudly) and brought up topics for discussion. A lactation consultant named Patty answered questions and encouraged us to give each other suggestions. At the end of the hour she encouraged us to go out to lunch together.
Fancying myself very ballsy, I went up to several women picking up their babies and their things and asked if they wanted to go to lunch. Sure, how about Corner Bakery? We descended on Corner Bakery in a gaggle of strollers. Businessmen stared. “We’re part of a new moms’ group,” one of my newfound friends explained. “It’s not like we all got pregnant together.” We hung out for a long, long time. When it finally broke up, I returned my car to find a $25 parking ticket. Oh well. Worth it.
That night Steve came home to messy house and no dinner cooked. (In fairness, Steve came home to that a lot. It wasn’t really the Breastfeeding Center’s fault.) “I had the best day,” I told him. Of course, I went back the next week. We exchanged emails and actually followed up with each other. Marjorie, the mom I sat next to the first day, invited everyone over to her house for brunch.
I couldn’t make it to brunch (it was my six week check-up) so I’m not sure where the name Baby Fight Club came from. I think someone’s husband saw BFC (for Breastfeeding Center) written on the calendar and asked if she was planning to take the baby to a baby fight club. But it stuck. Once the Baby Fight Club ball was moving, it could not be stopped. More brunches were planned, and a group email was formed.
Even though I’ve moved to Michigan, I still get email for Baby Fight Club. Lots of email. I could shunt it into a separate folder, but I don’t. I read it all, even the stuff that has nothing to do with me, even the emails that just make me miss DC, like all the invitations. They still meet up, if not every week then several times a month. And I rely on them for advice. When I had a plugged milk duct, the internet was full of iffy advice, but BFC steered me right.
When I got to Ann Arbor, one of the first orders of business was to find a new BFC. So, I asked other grad student moms, what’s fun to do with kids around here? I was angling for an invitation to their baby fight club, but none came. And it’s occurred to me: they weren’t holding out. They didn’t have a baby fight club. Delightful as they are, baby fight clubs are sadly rare.
And so, M, you must find a group of mom friends. It doesn’t matter where your baby sleeps or what he eats or what kind of diapers he wears. But emotional support for you is so, so very important. I almost spend the summer in my apartment, with just the Internet for company. Go out. Exchange emails and be the one to host brunch and get the ball rolling.