When I first fell pregnant I was just 18, it certainly wasn't a planned pregnancy and I was in full time work and living the life of any other 18 year old.
Of course when I fell pregnant those boozy nights out with friends stopped and as my growing bump grew and became ever tired I seemed to slip further and further away from my friends. Being just 19 throughout most of my pregnancy meant none of my friends had any children yet, in fact I think it may have been the furthest thing from their mind!
As my pregnancy progressed I began feeling more and more lonely and when I finally finished work for maternity leave, my last point of daily contact to other adults, to my friends ended. At the time I buried my head in to preparing for the arrival of my newborn, setting up a home that we had not long moved in too and nurturing my growing bump. I had convinced myself that once baby was here I would be able to get out more, see friends more and all would return to normal.
This was totally naive from my point and not the case at all. Of course when baby first arrived people came, they wanted to meet baby and offered advice and help and reassured me they would be there if I needed anything. As most mums will know after that initial"new baby rush" of visitors they begin to thin out, people return to their normal lives and you are left alone trying to adapt to having a new baby and becoming a mum.
I was scared, I felt alone and whilst I had my husband he was at work a lot of the time and the friends I thought would stick around had pretty much forgotten about us. I knew that whilst I could still stay in contact with my old friends they were now leading a different lifestyle to me, following a different path to me and my baby.
I had read and seen all of those stories about mum groups and meeting for coffees and play dates, mums nights out and this amazing support network which I assumed would just happen, it doesn't! Attending mum and baby groups is of course a great way to start in making new friends but these can be daunting and scary too and it doesn't just happen. I suffered with post-natal depression with my first baby which made going to groups even harder, a lot of days I didn't want to leave the house and when I did I just didn't have the confidence to throw myself into groups and conversations to make friends.
I quickly got disheartened when I would see groups of mums together and would feel I didn't really fit and its hard to feel confident especially when you are juggling a newborn and still finding your feet as a parent. It took time but I soon realised it was better just to be myself rather than trying to be the friend I thought everyone wanted to be. I took time away from others to become confident in my parenting and in myself and then went back to groups with a new attitude. Most people who attend these groups are just like you they join them to make friends, they probably have questions and worries just like you. Be yourself and relax us mums need to stick together on what can already be a very lonely journey.
I have been so lucky this second time round in that I have found some lovely friends who are parents themselves and it really does make all the difference. Knowing I have friends to turn to who know exactly what I am rambling on about when I talk about no sleep, cleaning wotsits from the carpet and the colour of poo and not think i have gone mad!
Being a parent is tough and its not all plain sailing and play dates, its hard but there is a light at the end of the tunnel we just have to want to see it. Don't put to much pressure on yourself to make friends just be yourself, those who are worth being friends with will accept you for exactly who you are sleep deprived rants and all.
Did you find it difficult to make friends when you first became a mum? Any tips or advice for new mums?