Right then. I have had enough coffee to be in the mood for a quick morning myth buster while The Ninos are having their morning kip.
Let's look at the NCT.
My experience of the NCT was generally positive. It helped to get out in the Whale stage of pregnancy and meet other similarly neurotic first timers who were analysing every nuance of the third trimester as I was, and it was also nice to have a reason to get off the sofa in the evening when life largely consisted of Master Chef finals and late night Nip Tuck re-runs.
I met 2 amazing friends who I know will be part of our lives for a long time, and a great group of people with whom to share the first faltering steps of parenthood. (We are meeting up in August for a celebratory beer of surviving the first year with the collective small people.)
My beef with the NCT, however, was that it didn't actually paint a picture of how it is. We learnt a lot about the cascade of intervention, the importance of breast feeding was instilled as firmly as you would expect, and we had some advice on how to manage labour pains.
Now. From the 5 girls in the group, not one of us had a perfect, laying-back-on-linen-pillows birth. There were blood transfusions, C- sections, emergency theatre runs...not a lavendar misted soft focus Bounty ad in sight.
Which is fine. But it would have been nice to be warned and I could have painted myself a different picture to expect.
Of course breastfeeding is best for Baby (and if I hear "Baby" it always makes my skin crawl...does Baby need a change? Does Baby need to be described as a nameless lump of flesh?) Of course, with the best will in the world mums would feed as long as they could. But you know, sometimes babies are premature, losing blood sugars and unable to suckle. So, as in my case we had to top up with formula the instant they were born, thus making me feel as if I have actually poisoned them with SMA in the first hour of their lives....Paranoia and Failure enter this way. I had a C-section with myriad complications - catheter in for a month, spine spasm, womb and bladder infections - so even picking up my little dudes was a mission, let alone pumping, cup feeding milk and breast feeding 2 babies. At the womb infection stage 4 weeks in I stopped breast feeding, heart broken and feeling like I had ruined their chances of health for their entire lives.
At our NCT re-union 3 of the 5 were bottle feeding. 2 mums had babies with colic and lactose intolerance, and I have just simply gone for the 'happier mum, happier baby' option, which meant if my babies were feeding well we could all sleep and thus remain a tad saner than otherwise - which as it turned out was not that sane anyway. More on that later.
So, we were NCT failures. And kind of made to feel it as well. I totally support the work the NCT does but there has to be room for some reality input too. Not all of our births are at home listening to dolphin music and popping babies out of lounge pants in between green teas. There has to be a balance between the Jeremy Kyle watching, fag smoking and donut eating perception of non right-on mums and the ethereal White Company sponsored NCT ideal.
I think it's called reality, and I love that a few of us are brave enough to confess that actually, we are failures of the NCT but graduates of Newborn. Needless to say I cancelled my membership but hung onto the friends. Helen and Claire, this one is for you ;)