Beyond the Bump Connections
Parenthood is a club that many of us belong to, yet we sometimes feel alone and isolated from other members. I remember, after my first baby was born, sitting alone in the hospital room and staring at him, wondering when we could put him back in because being pregnant felt so much easier.
Then I was released from the hospital, ripped away from all the experts. I was expected to instantly become a mother to this newborn creature, with no experience or instruction manual.
I knew I needed to find other mothers who were going through the same thing — and I needed to find them fast.
So I searched anywhere I could for a community to help navigate my new reality. I’d sit in department store restrooms to breastfeed and make an instant play group with complete strangers. I found other people’s existing playgroups at the neighborhood Starbucks and joined in the conversation. I’d even linger in baby paraphernalia stores, hoping to connect with other mothers in the aisles.
Ultimately I joined two different official play groups, cobbled together from random friendships developed during my pregnancy classes. When I was with one play group, I always felt like I was cheating on the other. But each one gave me more information and community, which I was grateful to have. The kids never did actually “play.” But ultimately it was about us parents, not the kids.
Not all new mothers manage to connect like this, which is where Monica Infante comes in. The mother of a 3-year-old and a 10-month-old has, for the last two years, organized Beyond the Bump, an information extravaganza event for new moms. The first two drew 350 people each year; this year’s event is June 6.
The event is a culmination of Infante’s own experiences with motherhood. In 2012, after her son was born, Infante was feeling the same isolation I felt 19 years ago, so she started connecting with other mothers of newborns, which turned into a group called Flower City Moms. At its peak, there were more than 100 members who gathered for daily events with their newborns. They hosted potluck dinners, canal walks and even music classes and yoga for mom and baby.
Now that their babies aren’t babies any more, the group has about 50 core moms who continue to gather, but the focus has changed to activities without the kids, including Moms’ night out, theater night and cooking. To date there have been 639 meetups of the 2012 Flower City Moms.
Monica created a community to share not only information but to provide a safe place to ask questions and, most important, share stories and the feelings that come along with new motherhood.
“We became fast friends and have since seen each other through a lot,” she said. “So isolation quickly became a thing of the past.”
She also saw a need to create a marketplace for all the great resources available in Rochester for new parents and babies. And that’s how Beyond the Bump came to life. The baby “trade show” gathers experts to provide seminars for new moms about a variety of topics, including lactation, baby nutrition and that Holy Grail for new parents: sleep. Vendors provide information about products that will support new and growing families, so there’s no wandering aimlessly through stores wondering what you need.
Most important, instead of searching in restrooms and coffee shops for the community you need when you’re starting your family, know that you are not alone because Beyond the Bump is here to nurture your baby and you. Makes me want to start all over again here in Rochester.
For more information: www.beyond-the-bump.com