When I first organized a “meetup” (Central CT New Parent Resources) over three years ago for expectant and new parents, I did it because I had a passion for supporting perinatal adjustment and believed that this group would help new parents connect with support from each other and community professionals.
At the beginning, there were no membership dues even as I paid organizer fees to use meetup.com’s platform. My worship community generously donated the space to support the goal of providing support to new parents: to help create villages. After a year, I reluctantly made the decision to charge an annual fee of $6 so that the cost of the organizer fees were covered. The membership dropped from over 160 to 79 or so, generally reflecting the true number of individuals interested in attending. We continued connecting with each other and with resources such as local doulas, nutritionists, pediatricians, lactation consultants, infant massage teachers and many others.
When I began this group I saw myself as “the giver”. I wasn’t prepared for the reality that I received as much as I gave. The first, most delicious gift I received was a weekly “Baby fix”. Since my youngest are twin boys who were 15 when I began the group, I found that I loved having the opportunity to see, make faces at, and sometimes even hold squirmy little ones yet again. I loved connecting to new Moms and Dads and being able to offer them support and assurance that they are good parents and that they will master this most difficult job. It has been so invigorating to meet other professionals in the community, and to offer them the opportunity to connect with some of the loveliest parents one could find anywhere. It’s been so wonderful seeing Moms connect with each other and to support each other with empathy and caring, and to help with practical matters such as how to use this or that baby carrier and giving and loaning paraphernalia. I have learned so much from these families: persistence, openness, acceptance, and patience. While I believed before “it takes a village” I have seen several develop before my eyes: I am so grateful.