To NCT or not to NCT…? (Sorry)

Post could be a single sentence: To NCT. Fin. But that would be no fun and I would have nothing to do, other than possibly play my crossword game or start watching Love Island (currently resisting) while my little man takes a nap sprawled across my lap. So I shall share my NCT journey with you.

My bloke and I signed up to NCT, mainly because we were moving to a new area and I wanted to make some mum friends, but also because we’d never had a baby and we didn’t have a scooby what to do/expect/buy/think etc. It was bleeding expensive, yes. We could have gone to the free one at the hospital, yes. But we signed up anyway. Just because, you know, parenting goals and shit; we wanted to be as prepared as possible.

Straight off the bat let me tell you I have some friends who have had some pretty hilarious and frankly bizarre NCT experiences. One guy went along with his Mrs and was asked in a round robin format to name his favourite mammal. The instructor then proceeded to say after each person had given their answer “Yes, they breastfeed their young”. Err… oh really? That is the fucking definition of a mammal, you utter moron. My friend shared that his favourite mammal was a duck billed platypus; they do not breastfeed but rather secrete milk through their skin (no nips, they are nipless) and apparently the look on old mother earth’s face was hilarious. In all seriousness though, some of the information given around breastfeeding can be rather militant (not just on NCT courses) and can make women who don’t want to, or end up being unable to breastfeed feeling guilty and downtrodden. However, for women who do want to breastfeed, support before birth and in the first few weeks is crucial. So I absolutely understand that it is difficult to know how to pitch this and where to draw the line. Either way, a fed baby is a happy baby and in the end they’ll all prefer MacDonalds by 13 anyway so I’m not sure why we bother!

Our first NCT session was around a month or so before babies due dates. I think one or two of the girls were approaching term and had packed up work. I was still a way off this and reality that a baby was going to evacuate my nether regions still hadn’t really hit. The first session was mainly focused on the practicalities of the birth itself and I think a bit about drugs. Lots of questions about what the pain feels like but we now all know that it is difficult to describe and also very different for each woman. Stand out moment from the first session had to be when we were asked as a group what we would need in order to ‘make love’ to our partners in the middle of the freezing cold, 80s decor community hall in which we were sat. This was all to do with how to boost our oxytocin levels, the love hormone, which apparently aids contractions during labour. The old classics music, wine, candles, dim lighting etc were all mentioned. Obviously everyone wanted the other fuckers in the room gone before they would get down to it (no voyeurs in our group… or at least if there were, they kept their views hidden at this stage). I so wanted to say something random like swimming goggles and a jar of marmite but thought better of exposing my warped sense of humour within the first hour of meeting potential mummy friends. Needless to say awkward conversation ensued and nervous half giggles rippled around the room.

The second session was an all girls affair that focused mainly on after care and a lot of chat about blood. I’ve never been the best with this sort of thing and even though it was November I remember it being a strangely warm afternoon. Cue a dizzy spell and near fainting episode, making myself look like a total wuss to potential new friends. Great. Final session involved more drug chat, listening to a tape of a screaming baby for ten minutes, practice nappy changing with dolls for the daddies and sitting on a yoga ball breathing while my fella awkwardly patted me on the back. To be fair the last one was good practice because he did do a fair bit of awkward back rubbing during the actual labour, while I angrily muttered that this was all his fucking fault and why the hell did we think this was a good idea et cetera. Overall we learnt a fair bit from the sessions and it gave us a chance to ask a load of questions, so we were pleased.

The best bit was yet to come though. Being the organised ex-teacher that I am, I set up a whatsapp group for us mums-to-be (I can’t really take credit for this as the course leader did mention it and I’m certain that if it wasn’t me, one of the other girls would have done it anyway). This turned out to be the best resource a new mum could ever wish for. No question was too ridiculous for this whatsapp group. Top convos include: Can baby boys get boners? Are my insides going to fall out? Why is my baby’s poo green/yellow/black/runny/hard/smells like popcorn? Why do I have a third hole? And the old classic, how is your Australia (referring to down under)? And we started meeting up in person. A lot. We met up a couple of times before babies arrived and then a lot more once they were here. We once spent five hours in a cafe and only had a a couple of hot chocolates and tap water – they must bloody hate us at that place with our vagina chat and our screaming babies. We still see each other a couple of times a week on average and the whatsapp group is pinging every day. If you miss a beat on that thing you literally have tens to hundreds of messages to catch up on.

Of course we have characters in the group. We’ve got the self-proclaimed hippy mum. Her fifth round of IVF has finally given her a rainbow baby and my word does she deserve it. The woman is literally a saint. We’ve got a couple of neurotic mums (of which I am one)… constantly questioning everything and being uber attentive to the babies, reading books about what to do to help with sleep and then just saying ah fuck it they’ll get there eventually, while mentally pleading “tell me they will fucking get there eventually or surely I will not survive the sleep deprivation!” We’ve got the laid back mums who just roll with the punches and the super laid back mums who bugger off to Spain for two months with a four month old baby (not jealous much) or book a ten day holiday the day before they leave for it. How is that even possible? What about the many lists of things to be done that you need to write and meticulously tick off as you go along? No? Just me?

The babies are all so different too. We’ve got babies who sleep through (one has done 12 hours a night since 6 weeks I mean WTF?! Again, not jealous much) and babies who are twats at night (mine). We’ve got mover shakers and communicators. We’ve got teethers, clingers, screechers and smilers. And they all do some of this at different times. We’ve all had a shitty day (or two or ten or a hundred) and we’ve all had good days and been able to support each other. Bottom line for me is I don’t think I could have done this first six months without the support of this group of women. This alone, for me, has been worth every penny spent. I can now say that I have mummy friends. And not just any old, wave and say hi at groups mummy friends. Genuine friends that have babies the same age as mine. Friends whose opinions I value. Friends whose children my son will grow up calling his own friends. They will have known each other and played together (alright scratched each other’s faces and poked each other in the eyes as that’s all they can do at this age) since they were born. And that is really lovely. So yes. To NCT. Fin.

NB: for all I know these ladies could think I’m a complete dick and find my constant moaning irritating as hell. But hey ho if they do I am totally blissful in my ignorance!