Why Should I join a TAPS Group? You are not alone.

As moms, we were all strong, resilient, tough, smart, and capable.
— Lauren

My husband and I are not native to the Raleigh area.

Four months after driving cross country from Montana to settle into our small Raleigh apartment, we found out we were expecting. It was a wonderfully happy revelation for us. We spent the next nine months preparing, as all expectant parents do, and I joined several “moms groups” in an attempt to make some fellow mom friends or even a local friend in general. I had no such luck. My husband works from home and I was studying for my national boards so we also lacked the ability to make friends at work. While I was beyond excited to be expecting, I was also feeling very isolated and a bit lonely. These feelings only intensified following the birth of our daughter. At times the loneliness felt so heavy it was oppressive.

When I heard about TAPS via social media I absolutely jumped at the opportunity to participate. While I had been extremely excited leading up to the first group meeting, on the day of I became nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and I worried that I would be judged by the other moms for my self-perceived flaws as a new parent. Moments after the group started I knew my fears were unfounded and that I had made an incredible decision that was going to benefit my mental health immensely. I was surrounded by other moms who were struggling with, surviving, and thriving through the same challenges that I was facing. I LOVED meeting with my group every week. The support without judgement was absolutely invaluable! No matter what challenges any of us were going through at time, we all knew we were not alone. We had each other. I came away from TAPS knowing that as moms we were all strong, resilient, tough, smart, and capable. Meeting with those incredible women each week got me through the hard times in those early months of parenting. Looking back on it now, I don’t know how I would have survived without my TAPS group.

You hear ten weeks and you think, “my goodness that is a long time” but when that last meeting rolls around your heart is heavy. I did NOT want TAPS to end. While we don’t get together every week anymore, we have continued to meet monthly. It continues to be something I thoroughly look forward to and immensely enjoy. We still support each other, we still work through parenting issues together, it’s still awesome, and I still love my mom tribe. 

Above: Lauren's daughter gives some giggles before an outing. Lauren serves TAPS as a volunteer group leader and admins one of the Triangle's age-specific Facebook groups.

Above: Lauren's daughter gives some giggles before an outing. Lauren serves TAPS as a volunteer group leader and admins one of the Triangle's age-specific Facebook groups.

Why should I join a TAPS group? Because everyone needs a safe place

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!

Tara and her sweet little one enjoying some time on the coast

Tara and her sweet little one enjoying some time on the coast

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. 

A group to support one another without judgment, to share successes and struggles as well as teach a few things along the way - this was exactly what I needed.
— Tara

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. 

Why Should I join a TAPS Group? Sometimes you're first among your friends to have kids.

 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.”

There is no "normal" - A note from B. W.

We were relatively new to the area and didn’t have much social support once my daughter was born. The first couple of months were challenging and isolating for me once my husband returned to work and family members returned home. I had met a few new moms through the birth center where I delivered but didn’t have a great connection with any of them. Being able to form a genuine connection with other first time moms was especially helpful.

The moms in my group have been wonderful – truly empathetic, genuine, and helpful. They are great listeners and willing to share advice, as well as a shoulder to cry on if needed. I was able to discuss what was “normal” in terms of my daughter’s development and postpartum emotions, feel validation from other women experiencing similar issues, and feel more confidence as a mom through my TAPS group. These moms have helped me shape my expectations and remind me that every baby is different, there is no “normal” and to seek support when needed.

Our group still meets informally, whether for dinner and other planned get togethers, or to go for walks and have play groups. Having the support and ability to socialize outside of the group is a tremendous benefit to joining TAPS. It’s great to continue to build friendships and see the babies grow and develop.

-B. W. in Cary

A Note from C. H. in Durham

Before I had my daughter, I had no experience with babies other than holding them for a few minutes. The first few months were very challenging- learning how to nurse, feeding and sleeping schedules, and getting enough sleep myself. Once my husband went back to work, I felt really alone and would sometimes count the time until he would be home to help me. When I joined the TAPS group, I didn’t feel as alone anymore because I learned that the other moms were going through the same struggles.

My TAPS group helped me feel supported each week. We talked about our current issues and helped one another find solutions. Our group leader reminded us to celebrate the small wins, even when the struggles felt impossible to get through. During the group, I learned about how to help my baby get to naps before she got overtired, how much formula she needed, and even tips about solid foods. I am very glad that I found this support group because it made a huge difference in giving me the confidence I needed to be a great mom.

- C. H.