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New moms meet in group and continue to be there for each other

By Norwalk Hospital

They thank Norwalk Hospital Childbirth Center for introducing them

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Mothers, pictured with their babies, who completed the Fourth Trimester Group at Norwalk Hospital, where they developed meaningful friendships continue to meet on special occasions. From left are: Erin Albaridi, Melissa Fox, Ann Nunes, Stephanie Beitel, Heather Royce and Callen Chatfield.
Nothing can describe the experience of bonding with your newborn baby. But to be able to share the experience with others makes it even more meaningful, according a group of mothers who had their babies at the Norwalk Hospital Childbirth Center.

Norwalk Hospital offers this opportunity through the "Fourth Trimester Program." This program helps new mothers bond with other new moms and has been so successful in accomplishing this that many of the mothers continue to meet even when they complete the program offered by Norwalk Hospital.

The program is offered to all new mothers with babies up to three months of age. “It is an opportunity for mothers to share experiences and concerns and as childbirth educators, we can offer advice on feeding issues, sleeping problems, finding time just for mom, dealing with the blues, sibling adjustments or any other issue,” said Lynn Higgins, RNC, IBCLC, patient educator at the Childbirth Center at Norwalk Hospital.

Melissa Fox of Norwalk gave birth to her son last February and attended her first meeting of the Fourth Trimester Group when her son was nine days old. "I remember being so proud of getting him dressed, myself dressed and the two of us out the door," she recalled.

According to Melissa, “The meetings themselves were a Godsend - an open, round-robin forum where we could ask questions about any and everything and listen to other people's experiences or issues.” She explained that a great benefit is that there was no formal agenda. "It's just show up and talk about the things that you're dealing with on a day-to-day or hour-to-hour basis.

“Lynn, the group's facilitator, is a wonderful resource for all things baby and all things mommy, and she creates a very supportive environment for people to open up and discuss what's going on in their lives that week,” Melissa added. “It was a great combination of 'ask-the-expert' and group therapy, and it was so nice to have an hour a week to talk to people who were going through exactly what I was going through,” she said.

According to Melissa, even more important than the meetings were the friendships that came out of them. "The meetings basically served as a hub for connecting me to other moms in the area, and it's those connections that have really been invaluable over the last year.”

“It started with a mommy who wanted to go for walks as the weather got nicer, so she circulated a sign up sheet and coordinated a time and place to meet up and walk. Then one of us proposed going to lunch at the hospital on Friday after the meeting.

“Then somebody invited the group over to her house for the first of many play dates. Pretty soon, I had a standing group of mommies and babies to do things with, and as new people joined the hospital group, we added them to the mix. I'm a first-time mom, and before I had my son, I worked full time and had very few friends with children. It was wonderful to have a group of women to do mommy things with--walks at the Cove and Sherwood Island; picnics at Waveny; story time at the library, stroller workout classes in the park, swimming at the Y …And to talk with… And, most importantly, to laugh with. Babies do so many wonderful, amazing, and sometimes disgusting things - having a group to share it with and laugh about it with just made it that much more fun," she said.

"Unfortunately, our group eventually aged out of the Fourth Trimester group, and now that most of us are back at work, we're not able to spend as many afternoons sitting around each others’ living rooms comparing notes as we'd like, but we still get together at least once a month for what has become an all-important ‘Mommies' Night Out’, as well as family get-togethers such as barbecues, Halloween parties, their upcoming birthday parties, and lunches and play dates when we can," she added.

"Our group has been an amazing outlet and resource this past year, and I'm so thankful that I've gotten to be part of it. It's been so much fun watching all the babies grow together. Motherhood would have been wonderful and fun regardless, but to have a group like this to share it with has just made it that much more so. I can't thank Lynn or Norwalk Hospital enough for creating the environment it flourished in, and I would definitely encourage other new mommies to take advantage of it," said Melissa.

Eileen Manning of Wilton, who attended the Fourth Trimester Group with Melissa, added, that “both Lynn Higgins, RNC, IBCLC, and Beth Iovinelli, RNC, IBCLC, were excellent resources for me. I cannot imagine what my first few months as a new mother would have been like without the support of the Fourth Trimester Group and the friendships that developed and continue as we figure out our way through new parenthood,” she said.

“The Fourth Trimester Group was a source of support, advice and friendship,” said Laura Vellante of New Canaan. “I am very grateful that Norwalk Hospital coordinated these meetings for us as new first time moms. The friendships I have developed as a result are very special to me and to my daughter, Olivia.”

“I still refer everyone I know who is having a baby to this group,” said Heather Royce of Norwalk. “What an amazing experience and I am so glad we have gotten to share the adventurous first year of mommyhood!”

“This year has been amazing and I'm so grateful everyday to have such a great group of mommies that I now call close friends, added Callen Chatfield of Norwalk.

“It has been an amazing nine months and it's incredible to think back on those first few meetings when I felt like I didn't know anything! Becoming a part of the group has made the experience of being a first time mom even more special,” Laura Connell of Norwalk, added.

Lori Murray of Stamford agrees. “Thank God for our special mom’s group, she said, adding, “not only did we get to share our pregnancy together, but we also shared a lot of memories with our first babies. It has been a wonderful journey so far and I can’t wait to see what this brand new year will bring.”

During 2010, the Fourth Trimester Group for new mothers will continue to be offered through the Childbirth Center of Norwalk Hospital as a community service, each Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m. For more information, call (203) 852-3390.

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