A GROUP of mothers who bonded at antenatal classes a generation ago have staged an emotional reunion.
The nine were strangers when they met at Thatcham Medical Practice 18 years ago.
But they decided to form a mutual support network in the days before social media and kept in touch.
And on Sunday the mothers – Nicky Simpson, Kerry Lewis, Bridget Coates, Claire Argue, Julie Bartlett, Paula Church, Caroline Williams, Melanie Prior and Tracy Cobb – reunited for a party as their ‘antenatal babies’ embark on life’s next chapter.
The group said that the combined support that had readily been on hand had proved invaluable over the years.
Mrs Simpson said that in an age before Facebook and other social media, the importance of meeting up had been crucial.
She added: “When we all first met there wasn’t social media but we all kept meeting up, stayed in touch and 18 years later are all great friends.
“All of us could ring anyone in the group and say ‘just popping round for a coffee’.
“We will always stay in touch and get together.”
Mrs Simpson said that there had been many fond memories over the years, not least of the convoy of pushchairs the group would form during trips out.
The mothers have helped each other through second babies, deaths, divorces and remarriages since their first children came along.
Mrs Coates said: “I think we are quite unique in that we stayed good friends. The support for each other was amazing.
“For most of us, these were our first babies and it was just really comforting to know that your child is okay; having that really strong mini-community where we all helped each other out and supported each other.”
They share pictures from their children’s baby days and school days and said that their children all kept in touch with each other.
The antenatal group met up again at Mrs Simpson’s home to witness their children prepare to head off to university or work.
Mrs Simpson said the day had been a “lovely, emotional, happy day” watching the ‘babies’ head off towards their own experiences and reflecting on the changes they had witnessed over the years.
Mrs Argue said: “It was a fantastic afternoon celebrating the 18th birthdays of all our ante-natal babies.
“I have no idea what I’d have done over the years without this amazing group of ladies.
“We’ve been through a lot together and they kept me sane when a certain someone refused to eat or sleep.”
Mrs Cobb said: “Eighteen years ago I walked into the doctor’s antenatal group – a room full of other daunted first timers smiling and hoping to make a friend to share this new venture as a mum.
“Who would have thought that 18 years later, we all still remain friends, experiencing together all the ups and downs of our child’s growing up to adulthood?
“We have given support to each other when needed and had a barrel of laughs along the way.
“It was so lucky to have met you ladies and here’s looking forward to the next chapter – hopefully not knitting bootees just yet.”
Mrs Church said: “These mums will always be very special to me. Together we went through lots of the traumas of having children, sleepless nights, relationship changes and subsequent babies.
“We opened our hearts and let the mums and their babies in – thank you every one.”