New Baby and Changing Friendships
Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
AUGUST 17, 2016
Mary was the first of her friends to have a baby. When she came home from the hospital, her friends visited, were eager to hold her son and hear about her delivery. Some even brought home cooked meals. After a couple of weeks however, it seemed like the honeymoon was over, and her friends lives continued on while Mary wasn’t quite sure what planet she was on.
In her previous “before baby” life, Thursday night was “girls night out,” a long standing ritual that Mary enjoyed. Only a few weeks into her new role as mom however, those Thursday nights seemed like a lifetime ago.
To their credit, Mary’s friends continue to check in with her letting her know where they would be each Thursday night should she like to join them, and therein lied the issue. It’s a common theme that comes up all the time in the moms groups I lead. New moms have a lot to say about how alienated they sometimes feel from their old lives and what conflicting feelings they often have about that, on the one hand longing for a carefree night out with friends, and then on the other…..”What 8pm? I’m exhausted and in bed by 8!”
New moms often describe struggling with feelings of guilt regarding how little time they have for friends, especially those without children, feeling torn between not wanting to leave their babies for hours at a time, and longing to join a friend for dinner, a movie, or just an hour or two to revisit the once carefree life they used to know.
As friends' social lives stay the course, new moms sometimes feel left behind, or that they are on a completely different planet. This is where new moms groups can be a lifesaver. Groups provide a place to not only talk about what’s going on with baby, but much more commonly, to talk about what’s going on with mom and all the changes and adjustments that come with being a new mom. Groups also help women meet other woman going through the same experience and thus form new friendships that often continue long past the baby stage.
I often tell the moms in my groups, that as you develop new friendships with other new moms, it doesn’t mean that your old friendships fade. There are normal shifts in any relationships, but those that we really value continue through any life adjustment, and new parenthood is a major life adjustment. While it’s hard to imagine when you are in the thick of it, the all- consuming newborn phase doesn’t last forever, and there will come a time again when 8pm doesn’t feel like midnight, and you will look forward to a carefree “Girls night out” ..It just might not be this week…
In the meantime, The Parent Connection of BIDMC offers several FREE groups for new moms, with meetings in Dedham, Lexington, Chestnut Hill and Milton. We also offer a group specifically for working moms that meets during the evening in Dedham. For more information about our new moms groups go to http://www.bidmc.org/parentconnection or give us a call at 617.667-BABY.