Family Center Featured Article
A Shining Light in the Winter Darkness
By Brooke Avakian
When my son Cooper was born in December 2012 I was a first time mom and stay at home mom. The winter months of the New Year with a brand new baby were lonely and quiet. I remember going in for my follow up appointment 6 weeks after he was born and being told about Baby’s 1st Year that met once a week at the Family Center. At that time the Family Center was located at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. I decided to try it out the following week. I bundled up Cooper and we ventured out to our first “mommy and me” group.
I was so excited to have an outlet and something scheduled into our week. I met Marney Toole, the program coordinator of the Family Center, and a few other moms with little ones. I loved the way Marney organized the group, it was warm, welcoming, and a nonjudgmental environment. My son was formula fed and not once did I feel judged while others breastfed their babies. It was a wonderful way to talk about highs and lows of life with a new baby and being a new parent. Cooper seemed to enjoy the new environment and company of other babies as the months passed. It was a safe place to socialize with others in the community.
In those winter months I remember bundling us both up him in his adorable snowsuit and myself in a sweater and leggings with boots. If I was running late or had to leave early it was never a problem because the understanding of having a new baby and the challenge of leaving the house was understood.
There was a sense of comfort and security that I felt when I would take my son to the Thursday morning baby group. I remember feeling refreshed and happy when my husband came home on Thursday nights because I finally had things to share with him about our day. Baby’s 1st Year provided a positive look on parenthood, and made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I met some wonderful moms that I am still friends with today and Cooper continues to play with those same friends. It opened a door of resources, and a safe place to go to with questions and take in suggestions.
In 2014 I had my daughter Lillian, I was so happy to share Baby’s 1st year with her, I started bringing her at 3 weeks old. I was familiar with the routine and now being a second time mom I had more experiences to bring to new moms I met. The new location of the Family Center in Vineyard Haven is spectacular and the feeling of a welcoming community shines through. The Family Center continues to be a support with my growing family and we couldn’t be more grateful.