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Bubby is four weeks old. Hubby has returned to work. I have left the house to get away from the confines of my small one bedroom apartment. I am trying to walk bub to sleep, but it’s not working. He is screaming. Scccrreeaaming.

I make my way towards the parenting room at the local shopping centre to calm and feed him.

I’m nervous. I hope there’s no one else in there that we will interrupt. I hope I can just do my thing, relax with bub, and quickly leave.

But the room is full of other parents. It’s not as noisy as you might think though, rather it’s quiet and peaceful. Just parents going about their business of feeding, changing nappies or taking some time out.

I smile and apologise (for my baby crying). I’m sure they could hear us coming from outside the room. I get looks of “don’t worry” and “we’ve all been there”. That’s comforting.

I look around at the people in the room. There are mums (and dads) of all different ages, shapes and sizes; from all different walks of life; mums with newborns; and mums with toddlers. Some mums have fancy prams that look like they cost the earth, others have babies in slings. Some babies are breastfed, others are bottle fed. Some babies wear cloth nappies, others in disposables. At this point in time, we are all equal. We are all good mums doing the best we can.

But I am still nervous. I hope my little one doesn’t disturb everyone, or that I do something wrong and the other mums think I’m a terrible mother.

The other mothers look like experts at this ‘parenting thing’. The mothers with newborns look comfortable as they feed their babies and look at them with all the admiration in the world. The mums of older children look natural and in control of their active toddlers.

“How old is your little one,” one mum asks as she ‘expertly’ feeds her baby.

“Four weeks,” I reply.

“He’s cute, very contented,” she says.

“How old is yours?” I ask.

“Eleven months. It goes so fast. I remember when mine would feed that calmly,” she says as her baby wriggles around on her lap and does windmill slaps on her chest and chin.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have an eleven month old. It feels like my baby won’t ever grow up! We talk mindlessly about our babies, the problems we have experienced, and how we have overcome them. She offers some solutions to my settling issues. I think I will give them a try.

Many other mums and dads walk in and out. It’s busy here today, but it is still peaceful. I want to stay and chat to the mum to get more hints and tips about parenting, but it’s time for her to leave. I am surprised by how quickly her baby fed, my newborn feeds for thirty minutes but her bub only fed for ten!

As she packs her pram getting ready to leave, she turns and says, ‘Good luck with everything. You look like you’re doing a great job” and she walks from the room. Wow! What an amazing mum she is, I think to myself.

Almost everyone that I saw when I first entered the room has left and been replaced with new mums and dads. Ten minutes later it is time for us to leave too. A walk out and pass another new mum, her baby is screaming too.

She apologises for her baby crying. I smile a sympathetic smile. She gives me a flustered, worried smile back and enters the parenting room.

TEN MONTHS LATER…

Bub is awake and I head into town for some shopping.

We haven’t been into town for ages as we’ve been too busy with play dates.

He is hungry and he cries for some food so I head towards the parenting room. It’s been a while since we’ve been there, I usually time our outings around his feeds. But alas, today we need to use it.

I hope there is another mum in there I can talk to. The room is mostly empty with only two other mums, both feeding their newborns. I sit down next to one of them.

“How old is your little one?” I ask.

“Four weeks,” she smiles.

“He is beautiful. How has your first few weeks been?” We make mindless chatter about our babies while we feed and admire them.

“How old is your bub?” she asks.

“Eleven months. It goes so fast. I remember when mine fed so easily,” I say as my soon-to-be toddler wriggles on my lap giving me windmill slaps on my chest and chin.

She tells me about the problems she’s been experiencing with settling her bub and more generally about life as a new mum. I think back to what it was like for me when my baby was four weeks old. I was sitting in the very chair she was in, feeling so nervous that my baby would bother others, and that I would do something wrong in front of everyone. I smile to myself and kindly offer her some suggestions that have worked for me.

My bub finishes feeding and I pack up my things. The other mum is still feeding her newborn – she’ll be another twenty minutes I think to myself.

As I leave the room I turn and say, ‘Don’t worry, you look like you’re doing a great job”.

She smiles and I walk from the room.

What have your parenting room experiences been like?

  • There is comfort in sharing similar stories.

    Reply

  • I haven’t actually used parenting rooms very often. When I have, it’s get in do what I have to do and get out again. I don’t even remember other parents bring in there with me

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  • That actually made me tear up a little bahaha. But its great how some mums are so supportive, even just through mindless chatter and tips.
    Not in a parents room, but I remember in hospital with my 1st baby, a mum across from me just had her 4th and she really helped me through the first day – she left after that. I saw her a few weeks later and told her thanks for helping me. I was a very extremely scared first-time mum. Now that I’ve had my 4th also, I understand why she helped so much. I wouldn’t mind betting she was a scared first-time as well when she had her first.

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  • Being a parent is so hard, with all the judgemental comments from complete strangers that have no idea what your circumstances are or how you or your child are feeling. This is a great supportive article that every parent needs to read.

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  • I live stories of parent supporting other parents, it’s a good change from all the negitive and judgemental comments you see on Facebook.

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  • this is a great article and just goes to show how a few kind words from the sisterhood, can really make your day

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  • I think all Mums deserve praise whether breastfeeding or bottlefeeding. Babies cry for various reasons – they are babies for goodness sake. Sometimes they don’t go to sleep when there are other people around, then they want another (even if fairly early) before they go to sleep. I had to recognise the “hungry” cry.

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  • this was very touching, absolutely heartwarming.
    makes me look forward to having my own experience in the parents room.

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  • A very good read, a few kind words can really help someone out.

    Reply

  • I have never really run into anyone at the parenting rooms! There are always screens and comfy sofas!

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  • A nice story. It is good to brighten up someones day with a little conversation!

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  • I must admit that since having my first child (who was a bit of a screamer) I always make use to smile at other mums when I’m out and about, particularly when their bub is crying or their toddler is kicking and screaming. Sometimes it’s just nice to know you’re not alone.

    Reply

  • totally agree life is stressful as a breastfeeder if you are not a confident person like I am not although I do think it is worse the discomfort for your babies sake

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  • Thanks for sharing this interesting article; a good read.

    Reply

  • I was so sleep deprived I don’t remember much………..sometimes jealous that others had bubs that seemed so good, but then I remember how lucky I am to have a healthy bub and know that I love them dearly. Wish I could do it again.

    Reply

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