It was a beautiful spring morning that we took our tiny newborn out of the house for the first time. Having battled with the new pram, how many layers to wrap her in, and the bizarre feeling that I was going to suffocate; we did manage to successfully navigate all the way to the bakery two streets away, and back.
This was the perfect location for that momentous journey, not only because of its stones throw distance from our house, nor because it’d look great written in the baby book, but because you remember in those first weeks, months, cooking any decent meal is out the question and survival depends on hand to mouth food. As the parental’s deliveries of home made shepherds pies and lasagnes dried up, we came to appreciate a certain little pastry wrapped sausage number available at none other than our nearest and dearest bakery store.
And so it began, on that first outing, we returned home with greasy baked goods and felt pretty wonderful that we had survived the walk, and hunter gathered lunch to boot.
As weeks went by, Mr G returned to work, and waves 2,3 and 4 of visitors slowly fizzled out, I would often find myself at a loose end, with no where to go or be, exhausted and hungry, in need of an escape of the four walls. You know where this is heading don’t you? Off we’d head, the longest route possible, enjoying the warm sunshine, or even drizzle on my face, as I walked with purpose – to get lunch of course. I’d sometimes stop at my aunties who lives a few doors along to see if she needed anything from the bakery? A sausage roll for lunch perhaps? This would also be reciprocated, and she would occasionally stroll down to me, needing an excuse to cuddle that delicious newborn; “Do you need anything for lunch? I was thinking of walking to the bakery for sausage rolls?”.
Thank god for breastfeeding; It must have stopped me growing to the size of a house. Particularly when a little cake for afters could, every now and again, fall in the bag.
I started to ponder how this year of maternity leave was going to pan out. There had to be more to it that daily strolls round the block? I had heard so many other mums talk of play dates, but where to find these other new mums? I had been taking the baby to get weighed every single week, but smiling and trying to make small talk had got me nowhere.
Then, a major breakthrough – a work colleague who had had her first baby 6 months prior to me dropped me a text to say she was meeting some mum friends for a picnic at a local park. This is it, I thought. My foot in the door to a new amazing life, filled with budding friendships, shared experiences, shoulders to cry on; our babies will be friends for life.
Keen to impress, I asked her what I should bring along – after all there are 2 types of picnics, a) the sharing and b) the selfie. Do I bring one dish for everyone to tuck in to? Or an adult version of a kids packed lunch for myself? She didn’t really know, just said to do whatever was easiest and we arranged to meet later.
What really answered the question of how to cater for the event, was the fact that we had bog all in the fridge for either option a) or b), and quite frankly, this was the first time since pre-motherhood I’d had to be anywhere at any given time so how I was going to get myself and baby out the door at all was going to take some divine intervention.
Then, I had a eureka moment – the route to the park was of course, past my favourite go-to. The fact I had zero cash on me wouldn’t stop me, as I could draw cash at the post office, then fill my boots (well, under pram storage compartment) with freshly baked (reheated?) goods. Go me.
Unsure of how many mums would be at the play date, I went for a nice round number – 10 sausage rolls, and a bag of cookies. Nervous, but glad to have my bakery haul, I set off to meet my new BFFs.
Lets just say, the day didn’t quite go as I planned. I had wrongly assumed that all women who had stepped into the world of parenting would be wonderfully united in the sisterhood, welcoming me with open arms. These mums didn’t do or say anything unpleasant – they just weren’t ‘my cup of tea’ I guess. All of them had older kids, off running around playing. They had therefore, by default, known each other a long time and were way beyond that needy stage of first time motherhood. They chatted about school applications and I struggled to feel I could contribute to the conversation. Those with younger babies were taking it in their stride, all looking as though they’d ‘got the T-shirt’, whereas I was barely in the ‘being there’ stage. They all wanted to sit in the sun, catching some rays, wheras I was trying to keep the pram in the shade – an uncomfortable 20 feet away.
I think what compounded my anxiety, was that this was the first time I ever had to breastfeed the baby anywhere out of my comfort zone. I knew she needed a feed and I put it off as long as I could bear seeing her root around. Sitting there, awkwardly feeding her cross legged on the grass, I really had to fight back the tears. But, I did it, and felt a lot more relieved when she settled back into a content slumber.
But then…then, there was the picnic.
I felt the blood rushing into my cheeks, as I watched each mum pull out of their tote bags a single tupperware container of salad. By this point, there was no point trying to impress, I offered round my sweaty bag of lukewarm sausage rolls, and each lady politely declined. So I got stuck in. One after the other. I did take some home for Mr G, but definitely ate more than my fair share.
I never did see those mums again.
I did, however, go on to make friends, and survive my maternity leave without doubling in size. Probably thanks to the fact that I got so sick of sausage rolls; I have hardly touched one since that very day.