Mommies helping mommies
EDWARDS- Babies live in a brand-new universe. New moms spend much of their time in an altered state.”I’ve never been so tired,” said Kristin Drisko of the first few weeks with her baby. Mothers with new babies spend a lot of time wondering and worrying. Is this normal? Do all babies need this many diapers in a day? What does that cry mean? Then there’s the big one: How can I leave my baby with someone else and go to work?
Once a week, a group of new moms gets together to talk about all that and more at a class called “Mommy and Me.” Nurse Carol Conger has plenty of advice for new moms, the result of decades in the baby business. But a lot of advice comes from the moms.”We’ll throw questions out, and anyone can answer,” mom Joanna Kluender said. Kluender has a bit of an edge – this is her second baby. But she came back to the class with her latest. “I’d forgotten a lot,” she said. And, she’s staying home through much of this winter, just to keep her new daughter as healthy as possible.
New moms are often advised to keep their babies away from the public – particularly places like grocery stores – for the first six weeks. That can result in cabin fever. Several of the moms in the Tuesday group said coming to the class is a good way for them to get out of the house.”I need face to face contact with people,” Laura Tannenbaum said. “It’s so nice to get out,” Christine Heimerl said. “You feel like you’re in lockdown.”The contact with people is especially important once the grandparents leave, Conger said. “Most of these moms don’t have family nearby,” Conger said. “That’s the importance of this support group. With a more stable population in the valley, these moms are building relationships. They can help each other through a lot.”
One of the quandaries most new moms face is when to return to paying work. In a valley where most people have to work just to pay the bills, giving up a few months’ income can hurt.
A couple of the moms said they’re using home equity loans to help get them through the lean times when they’re home with their kids.”I’ve gone to work part time,” Bethany Riddle said. “We don’t have day care right now, so I’ve adjusted my schedule to evenings when my husband can be home.”Christine Heimerl has also gone back to work part-time, and takes her daughter along for the few afternoons a week she goes to the office. But Heimerl paled a bit when she talked about going back to full-time work.”I’m just dreading it,” she said. “And we’re even hiring an au pair to be at our home.”Drisko is able to stay home with her child. But even she wonders about going back to work.”There are times when I wonder if I should go back to work,” Drisko said. “It’s hard staying home. You’ve got to clean this and do that. It’s harder than working. You try to learn what their cries mean. It’s been a challenge.”
Moms in the Mommy and Me group often form fast friendships. At the very least, many of them end up on Christmas card lists for several years.”The last group, most of them went back to work full-time,” Kluender said. “But we know where we are.”A few members of this group often get together for lunch on class days, and the women in the classroom at the Shaw Cancer Center are at ease with each other and a visiting reporter.That welcome extended to Tannenbaum and Michelle Jennette, both of whom came to their first Mommy and Me session this week. That welcome starts with Conger, who picked up and cuddled Jennette’s baby before either could say hello. “We had a new mom come in not long ago in tears,” Conger said. “She left with seven phone numbers of people she could call.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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