Michelle Goodisson tells us about the 10 amazing years she’s shared with her NCT friends and the 19 babies between them…
l live in Surrey with my husband Ken and our daughters Isabelle, 10, Emily, nine, and Rose, five.
We moved to the south east of England for work and didn’t have any family network around us.
So, after much online research about NCT, we decided to join Chertsey branch when I was pregnant with Isabelle.
It was a cold November night back in 2008. We left the house, navigated the seatbelt over my expanding baby bump and headed to our first antenatal class in a local village.
We knocked on the front door and a reassuring lady named Sarah answered and welcomed us in.
We took our places among the 16 chairs that had been laid out in a horseshoe shape.
We smiled politely and said hello to this new bunch of people who, like me, had baby bumps and nervous looking partners.
The thought of walking into a room full of strangers and talking about having a baby was a bit daunting. I think it’s fair to say we all felt a bit uneasy, especially the men.
But when we introduced ourselves that night we had no idea what a unique and special bond we were all making.
Thankfully, we had a top bunch of people so the relationships developed fairly easily for us, despite our different backgrounds and ages.
We knew that in a number of weeks we’d all have a baby and we’d be able to compare notes about feeding, sleeping, nappy changes and exhaustion.
This bunch of strangers very quickly became my besties. My fellow mums who were quite happy to discuss the colour of baby poo and understood the highs and lows of parenthood.
We were in touch frequently at the beginning, attending breastfeeding drop-ins together, baby sign, baby massage and playgroups.
If you had a tough night with little sleep it would feel like an effort to go, but the distraction for the baby and being able to chat and offload with the other NCT mums was a huge help.
We also went on buggy running sessions where we’d sweat away for an hour and then finish with a cake and a cuppa in the café. I think we probably ate more calories than we burnt off but it was good for bonding!
I was so grateful that I could pick up the phone to my mummy friends
I was the first to have a second baby, just 16 months after our first daughter Isabelle had arrived.
Emily was born by emergency caesarean, which meant I couldn’t drive for weeks.
She also had colic which was physically and mentally exhausting.
At the same time, Isabelle was poorly and was undergoing invasive tests in a London hospital, miles from home.
My NCT friends collected the prescription formula we needed, brought sheets for the Moses basket when I was struggling to get out and turned up with the most delicious chocolate biscuits (which I’m still addicted to now!)
Over the last 10 years, we have all gone through our own personal journey.
Some of us have lost parents and experienced illness.
Some of us have had sick babies who spent time in neonatal intensive care units (NICU) and continue to live with medical conditions.
We, like many people, are simply a group of parents doing everything we can to raise a happy family around work and modern life pressures.
It can be tough but it’s a warm feeling to know that, if need be, the NCT family I met 10 years ago are always there and just a phone call away should I ever need any support.
Between us we now have 19 children – aged between one and 10 years old.
And despite two couples moving up north, we’ve all stayed in touch and have an amazing bond.
I just wanted to say thank you NCT for giving us this wonderful group of friends
Surround yourself with support, especially if you don’t have a local family network.
Being with others who are new mums like you can be a huge comfort, especially if you’re sleep deprived.
There were many times when I thought I couldn’t go and meet the mums at playgroup, as I was worried about one of my babies screaming and I felt so tired.
But often they’d insist I came and it honestly made me feel so much better. Usually the change of scenery helped the baby too.
I can’t stress enough the importance of support when you have a baby and especially when you live away from family. NCT for me really has been a lifeline.
I am really proud of my NCT group and feel it’s rare for all eight of the couples in our group to still be in contact a decade on.
We love to hear about the friendships you’ve formed through NCT. If you’d like to share your story, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
You might find attending one of NCT’s Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.