Friendships come and go, but the friendships we make as expecting/new mamas can really shape our motherhood journeys. You know, the mamas who join you, equally sleep-deprived, for a walk in the park, or the mamas who drop off freshly-baked cookies after an especially rough day. Those connections can make all the difference. In this series, we introduce you to four women who found funny, unusual and, surprising avenues to make mama pals. We’re talking to Aleksandra Wnuk, freelance creative director and conceptual copywriter and mother to Astro (3 years old) and Sunny (5 weeks), and how she met Annajane Güzel, Head of Marketing EMEA and mother to Esme (3 years old) and Ayla (5 weeks).
Pictured: Aleksandra and Justin with their son Astro (left) in a hospital room next door to Mem and Annajane (right), who had just given birth to daughter Esme hours before. The new dads ran into each other just minutes later!
How keen were you to make mom friends when you were pregnant/a new mama? To be honest, not that keen. I wanted to be connected to some moms but I didn't want it to be purely based on the fact that we were moms. I figured the one or two I knew was enough. How naive it was of me to think that I would actually see that one mom I knew on the other side of London (where we were living at the time)! When time is short and you’re so tired, it really comes down to proximity: can you meet in the same park, yes or no, otherwise you will never see people, ever! I was going to prenatal classes at the women’s gym Frame and there were a couple of moms that I thought were so cool. But number exchange is a really hard thing to do when you're an adult. So I didn't make the effort I could have to make mom friends. But you did meet someone in the end? Yes! My husband and I had been living in East London, around Victoria Park, for about six years. I would regularly stop by our local grocery store SimplyFresh on my way home from work. The guy running it, Mem, and I would chat all the time; the first year or two, it was very cordial. Then after a while, you become a regular, then you’re on a first-name basis, and before you know it you’re sharing big life moments like getting married. I remember I walked in and I wasn’t super visibly pregnant but I had a bump and he looked at me kind of weird and I looked at him kind of weird, and I shared our great news and he told me that his wife was also pregnant, due April 7th (I was due April 14th). I had seen his wife, Annajane, working at the grocery store periodically. She was this way-cooler-than-me tall, blonde, and she knew all the customers by name. She wasn't trying hard at all, she just had it all together. But we never spoke really. What was the moment you realised you had a connection? Closer to my due date I was at the shop and Mem was saying that they hadn’t really done anything to prepare for the baby. And I said that we hadn't done any antenatal classes either, that I felt like it was almost like joining a cult. He laughed and said his wife had said the same. So I invited him and his wife to join my husband and me for a three-hour workshop I had planned to do with a doula (she was going to cover what happens to your body, what happens during birth, how can your partner help you, pregnancy/labor massages, etc.). They came over to our house that Saturday and we sat down and had some banana bread I had made and the doula started talking about something related to the human body, and Annajane said, “I had no idea I looked like that!” and I thought, we're off to a good start here! She was just so perfectly and beautifully honest and apologetic about how ignorant she was about being a first-time parent - we both were. And I was so grateful for that because everyone I had met knew all the answers and was so well-schooled in the whole thing. After that, we started chatting - we were sending each other all these ridiculous things like, did you know your baby's the size of a Chanel bag, that kind of stuff. A few days after our due dates had come and gone, I ended up at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. I had my son Astro and we ended up staying in the hospital for another night; I remember the screams of the woman in the room next door to me, obviously in labor. The next morning my husband Justin walks out the door to get something to drink and he runs into Mem in the hallway and turns out it was AJ powering through labour next door all along. Our babies were born just a few hours apart. It could not have been more perfect… The person who I felt most kindred to at the end of my pregnancy, a partial stranger, had her baby in the hospital room next to mine. And we were practically inseparable from then on. How important was this friendship for you in your motherhood journey? I don't feel like I’ve been able to be as vulnerable or open with anybody as I have been with her. In a funny way, she's sort of been the most ideal in terms of someone to learn from, even though her journey was hella more difficult postnatally than mine. She had all the things (prolapse, mastitis, stopped breastfeeding early because her milk dried up, etc.) and while it would have been enough to devastate anybody, she took everything with such grace and humor and acceptance. She would just say, “Ah well, this is just the end of my breastfeeding journey” and with the prolapse, “I feel like I have balls but it's fine!” (Laughs) I remember her baby got hand, foot, and mouth disease when she was a month old and Annajane sent me a photo and said, “Look at this hilarious photo of my crusty baby!” Then her baby got the chickenpox and Annajane offered to come over and rub her baby all over mine so they could both get it early. It was constant laughs with her, I never lol'd so much. It was really sad to move actually, it was hard to leave that nest if you will, that she and I had built in London. Are you still in touch today? Yes, we still talk weekly. When I found out I was pregnant again I wrote to her and asked if she wasn’t by any chance pregnant too and she was! She had her second daughter just a few days before I had my second son. We've done it together all over again. We're not in the same city and we're not getting to do our zombie-coffee-sunglasses walk around Victoria Park every day but we share, we chat, we check-in. This was really one of the luckiest encounters of all time, and all thanks to her husband's grocery store! Thanks Aleksandra for sharing your story with us and reminding us that a great friendship might be just a grocery store chit-chat away!
This post was sponsored by Huddle, a new video messaging app for sharing personal moments with family and friends in a more meaningful way. Whether you're looking for a fun way to stay in touch with a mom friend who lives halfway across the world or a mama group in your same city, Huddle brings you closer. Available for download from the App Store now.