In our area we have a local nurse who visits you soon after taking baby home. The nurse checks to make sure the baby is gaining weight, gives advice and helps to ease first-time parents’ jitters and concerns.
My husband, an admitted hypochondriac, was full-on into his “protective-sleep-deprived-nesting-father” phase and loved the nurse visits because he could ask her about every disease, infection, or affliction he was convinced our baby had somehow contracted. He could show her the baby feeding and pooing log we kept to make sure our baby was feeding properly and even saved soiled diapers for her to examine – “Is this the right colour poo?” Anyone who has been a first time parent can likely relate.
To be fair, my husband’s excessive hypochondrium was coming from a good place. At the time of Sweet Pea’s birth, he had a work contract three time zones away and would only be around for the first week before leaving on a 3-week work stint. So he was trying to cram-in as much fatherly love as possible into 7 short days.
Recognizing my husband as a very eager father, the nurse suggested he attend the first meeting of the local mom & tots group that was set to start when he came back to town.
Fast-forward three weeks and my husband is finally home for another week off. So off we go to the Mom & Tots Group – me thinking what a great opportunity for Dad to bond more with Sweet Pea and for me to meet other local mothers who understood the daily issues I would be facing.
This is the point where a “great idea” goes terribly wrong…
Just as the group was getting started Sweet Pea decides to throw a screaming and crying fit. We rocked and tried to calm him as our rather “new-agey” group animator demonstrated a series of baby exercises to the tune of lullaby music and talked about how the space was “non-judgemental” and we should all let our babies “be who they will be” (read: we hear your baby screaming…but will pretend that it doesn’t bother us and that we don’t think you are terrible parents)
Sweet Pea could not be calmed so we figured he must need a diaper change. We proceeded to get out our portable baby-changing mat as the group progressed to the “introduce yourself and your baby” phase. As each mom introduced their angelically silent and happy baby, Sweet Pea’s cries got increasingly intense while my husband spent what felt like hours rooting around our diaper bag for the ever-important Purell to clean his own hands for the imminent staph infection he would no doubt infect the little one with if, god-forbid, he change a dirty diaper with hands that had not first been sanitized of the potential germs he had contracted on the three-block walk over to the mom & tots group.
When it was our turn to make introductions I did so over my husbands no-so-hushed comments about how our little one would no doubt pee everywhere because we forgot to put the “pee-pee tee-pee” in our diaper bag.
The diaper change failed to console Sweet Pea so I proceeded to breast feed him and was finally able to lull him to sleep on the play mat. Phew crisis solved just as the group moved onto “sharing-time” where mothers would talk about their anxieties of getting babies to sleep or the importance of having supportive partners etc. It was at this opportune time that my husband also decided to fall asleep in the dimly lit room. So there I sat with one baby sleeping before me on the play mat and my other “big baby” snoring away on my shoulder as the moms continued to “non-judge” me in their sharing circle.
By the time the group animator moved onto the “recognizing baby facial expressions” part of the programming, hubby finally decided to awake from his slumber and proceeded to make not-so-silent comments about how the group meeting was too long/boring and how the topics being covered were irrelevant for such young babies. Had he actually been awake during the part where they passed around photos of the various facial expressions he might of recognized the look on my face as the “shut the f%$#k up” look.
Group time was finally over and off we went back home. The biggest take away I got from the whole experience being don’t bring two babies to the Mom & Tots Group!