Its no secret that most premmy mums despair at the idea of going to baby groups. Come to think of it, it's a fairly detested concept all across the board.
Its not just the socialising aspect of it, the being thrown into a room with a bunch of randoms, the only common ground being that you all reproduced recently, It's the getting ready bit.
Yes the getting up, the doing the hair, yes the actual doing of hair. The fishing around in the wardrobe for non-frumpy, maternal like clothing that flatters your post pregnancy shape. The careful selection of babies outfit. The pleading communications with baby, 'mummy won't be long now.. '
The banging out of 'old macdonald' whilst simultaneously thinking where the hell are my shoes..
and finally the guilt of being so preoccupied with appearances that baby has made a real tear in the interim.
Then, when at long last you get out of the house, its the superficiality of walking into baby group all smiles like you manage to do this every bloody day of the week no bloody problem.
And that's just before you get talking to people.
But if you're a premmy mum and you can get this far then you absolutely have my respect.
In actual fact premmy mums' non attendance at baby groups is not something that has gone entirely unnoticed.
Quite recently I attended a neonatal service user feedback group that were looking to discuss this very matter.One of the proposed ideas to help integrate families of prem babies into mainstream groups was to bring support workers from sure start into the neonatal unit. ( If Mohammed wont come to the mountain sort of thing.)
Following this proposal I think I became aware of a number of possibilities worthy of further consideration.
1. I am actually a bit of a snob
2. I'm developing a 'right wing' political perspective.
3. I have a very low state of self awareness.
You see up until this day it was my understanding that sure start was for families from disadvantaged backgrounds.Well that cant be me. (For a start I have a dyson.)
But by all accounts this is not the case at all. Apparently gone are the days when sure start workers lurked on the edge of housing estates hoping to grab mum on her way back from her weekly shop at costcutter. These days sure start is for everyone.
If sure start is for everyone then surely everyone can decide if surestart is for them. no?
You see as a pregnant mum to to be I dared to have this little fantasy. The fantasy not only involved me having a healthy baby, born at approximately 40 weeks gestation but it pertained that I, now a much older mummy would do all the mummy like things that I didn't have the confidence to do the first time around. Yes i was going to be this baby group bonkers,club crazy mummy who felt at one with her community.
And although I was never in any denial that i had a very prem and poorly baby, equally there was absolutely no way that i was parting with my fantasy either.
After all, it was this fantasy that kept me going through some of the toughest times.It was the idea that that one day, cuddles with smidge would be when i wanted them and not when the nurses said it was okay. It was the thought that I could offer milk without it involving expressing,freezing and nasogastric intubation. And it was the fantasy that one day, damn it.. I would push my lovely baby girl into baby group and I would be an every day mum,there to meet other mums and talk about every day mum stuff like how many hours sleep you haven't had and weather budget baby wipes really are the crime of the century.
It is well documented that premmy mums often feel robbed of so many things. Of a long and healthy pregnancy, of those precious first few hours and now, it seems services want to get in on the 'every day mum' fantasy too!!
But as tempting as it is to rant on about the nanny state and creating job opportunities out of peoples would- be private lives i suppose it would be rude not to consider the possibility that the new surestart neonatal service might amount to more than a professional handholding exercise.
To help the sure start workers along, I have put together this short check list which may be of some assistance when trying to determine why their neonatal mum hasn't attended the local baby group.
1. They want everyone to bog off so they can finally enjoy their baby.
2. They fear alienation because all the mums know each other from antenatal classes.
3.They are trying to have a nervous break down in peace.
4.They have heard enough insensitive comments in the supermarket.
However, with all that said and done, wouldn't it be handy for someone to be in the know about these sorts of issues and could prepare us premmy mums in advance?
In her blog about 'what makes a good neonatal nurse' ex-premmy mum and fellow blogger Kylie (firstname.lastname@example.org) highlighted the fact that at times a professionals' insight can act as an effective preventative measure for handling emotional upset or stress.
"She never tried to pretend she knew how it felt to have a tiny baby, but she always seemed to understand exactly what we were going through. I remember her saying to me in about week 3 that a time would come where we really resented the staff and would feel bitter about their involvement, and she was absolutely right. By week 7 I was so, pardon the French, pissed off with the whole thing and just wanted my baby to be mine. I was sick of sharing him. The fact that she recognised this and pre empted it really helped me understand that what I was feeling was normal."
I really ought to say at this point that despite all of the above listed anxieties, my experience of baby group has so far been a positive one. Obviously that could change, but such a shift is most likely to be associated with the fact that i am an over opinionated, hyperactive gob shite with a dodgy sense of humour as opposed to it being because I'm a premmy mum.