Becoming a parent, for many of us, causes a deep volcano-like rumbling inside our sense of self. We start asking questions like, "Who am I anymore?" And "Who was I before?" and "Am I ever going to be me again?"
I moved cross-country to North Carolina when my babe was just 3 weeks old. I didn’t know anyone except my partner who was finishing his nursing program. We had just had an incredible 3 weeks of family 24/7, friends and a large support network. To say the least, I was lost. My partner was starting back at school in a rigorous, accelerated program, and all of a sudden I had a newborn to try and entertain/get to sleep/keep happy and feed/keep alive on my own. I didn’t know a soul and then, on top of it, I was trying to find “time” for myself, trying to meet people by going out (with babe), applying for jobs, and keeping myself fed. Although I LOVE babies and absolutely adored being able to spend time with my fresh baby, it was overwhelming, isolating, and exhausting!
Along comes TAPS. This group that I saw posted to a Facebook group and says it meets once a week and discusses newborn issues, promises to be a group of amazing, strong women (okay it didn’t promise, but it did happen to be true)…I was hooked. After my first meeting and discussing our arrival stories, I knew that this was it. A group to support one another without judgement, to share successes and struggles as well as teach a few things along the way – this was exactly what I needed. To get out of the house, be in a “safe place” where if babe starts to scream, it was totally cool, was a godsend.
My TAPS group really helped me to connect with local moms. They were a sounding board and a truly supportive space. The most important thing that I took away from TAPS is that it is OKAY and normal to be going through/feeling ___(fill in the blank)__. These weekly affirmations were exactly what I needed to hear as a new mom.
My group still connects via Facebook group to celebrate victories, share milestones and “low points”. We strive to have monthly family outings -- very informal gatherings/potlucks/hikes/picnics, etc. -- which are wonderful ways to keep up to date and connected with everyone! Aside from group meetings, I have made some incredible friends and close connections with whom we meet at least weekly with babes. Without TAPS I have no idea where I would have been able to find the same strong support network that is critical to those early baby days.
C.H. tells her story today. She and her family are celebrating H's first Birthday soon!
“I was the first Mom in my group of friends in the Triangle. My family live 5000 miles away (as do many of my friends with kids). My husband was not entitled for FMLA (he took two weeks PTO) and works long hours. So parenting at first was isolating and the days felt so long. The first two weeks were great with my husband at home, but week 3 fussiness hit just as my family arrived. My daughter suddenly was a lot harder and I found myself crying nearly as much as she did.
A lot of this was resolved after meeting my fellow TAPS Moms – turns out H had reflux and I wouldn’t have thought this was an issue if I hadn’t met other Moms. This alone was such a lightbulb moment and H went from a difficult baby to the life and soul of the party in a matter of days.
My fellow TAPS Moms [also] offered so much advice when H would scream in the car seat (now we can drive places!). Even though we were all first time parents, it amazed me how many examples and tips this “rookie” group had. I have learnt so much from this amazing group of Moms.
My TAPS Moms are no longer just my TAPS group – they are my friends. Each one has touched my life (and H’s) in such a meaningful way. We try to meet monthly as a group and I text/Facebook message all of the other Moms regularly. My husband has even made Dad friends. I truly hope we will all continue to grow together on this amazing journey and H sees her TAPS buddies as amazing friends.”