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When you have your last appointments with your midwife before you give birth she will ask you if you want to join a ‘mother’s group’.  (Although sometimes the language barrier gets in the way and you don’t realise what you’ve signed up to until you arrive at the appointment.)

Mother’s group is just a group of mothers (and dads) meeting together at the health clinic for the same baby check up appointment.  There are only selective appointments that are combined with the other mothers and their babies; the rest of the appointments you will have are private (meaning just you and your baby).

The first meeting is just an introduction and can be as early as before your six week check-up.  The next will be the four month check up and then usually the vaccination check-ups.  The health centre will send you out letters informing you of your appointments.

The purpose of a mother’s group is for you to meet other mothers and discuss ‘motherhood’ and your new baby.  A health nurse is assigned to the group to do the baby-checks but also so you can ask questions and get information.  (It is expected that) the mothers exchange contact details so they can arrange baby ‘outings’.  (Have you ever seen a group of 5 mothers with 5 babies with 5 huge 4WD prams jamming up the footpath?)

I did the whole ‘mother’s group’ thing in Australia.  I lasted a year going to cafes, movies and shopping centres, however, I was very young and naive (I was only 20).  I quickly realised what ‘mother’s group’ meant: a time to boast about how much smarter your baby is than everyone elses.

With my next two babies I didn’t go to ‘mother’s group’.  My reason: ‘I’ve already had one/two babies, so I know what I’m doing’.  However, this time, with my fourth, I’ve decided to go.  Not because I wanted to find out how they do things in Norway (I’ve already had one here) but just to make friends.  Being an ‘immigrant’ and not speaking the language can prevent you from making real friends.  Firstly, this can effect your own social life but eventually it will also effect your child’s social life.  ‘Play-dates’ are made between mothers and if I don’t know any then my children won’t get to have many plays with kids their own age.  As I’ve chosen to be a ‘stay-at-home mum’ my kids aren’t going to childcare so them not socialising with Norwegian kids is always on my mind.  Even though I am dedicating my time to love and teach my kids at home there are some things they cannot learn from me.  My kids need to learn Norwegian, they need to learn how to play with other kids and they also need to learn the hidden social behaviours and nature of Norwegian society.  So then ‘mother’s group’ didn’t seem half bad.

So I went to ‘mother’s group’.  My first time was a surprise.  The mothers were well educated and in their 30s, so we had other things to talk about than just babies.  (Believe me, after four kids, you crave any conversation that doesn’t have the word ‘breast’ or ‘vomit’ in it.)  Moose came along (to hold my hand) and so did one of the other dads.  It was really nice to have some testosterone in the conversation too – men have the talent of making jokes out of anything.  I was a little worried about not speaking Norwegian (hence bringing my personal translator) but everyone was more than happy to speak English.  I liked the group so much I even exchanged numbers with them for a future ‘outing’.  And in fact, I’m looking forward to the next time we meet at the health clinic.

I credit this new ‘mother’s group’ experience to the nature of Norwegians. 

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