My name is Gwen and I am the mother of four gorgeous Screecher Creature boys who have inspired me to write a blog called www.wonderfulwagon.com documenting our adventures together, breastfeeding and otherwise. They stretch my patience to the limit every day and also my love. Thankfully though, my love for them has no limits. Having said that, we all need a little respite now and again and what better way to get that then by meeting up with a group of like-minded contemporaries. So I was delighted to see such a group - Cuidiu - ICT Breastfeeding Support Group being set up in my hometown, Athy, Co. Kildare. I am fortunate to have enjoyed a very successful and wonderful breastfeeding relationship with my three older boys and the same was proving to be the case with my then three month old. Being totally honest, I went along to the group that first week mostly out of curiosity. You see, I “knew” Angela from an Irish parenting website and welcomed the opportunity to meet her in person. That was a year ago and I can again, honestly say, her group is one of the highlights of my week. It has grown from strength to strength and many of those ladies and their babies, who then ranged from 6 weeks old to one year, are not strangers with odd usernames on rollercoaster.ie anymore, but friends. Our newborn babies, and indeed toddlers, have grown together. We have shared the first smiles, first teeth, baby led weaning tips and stories, that all important and very exciting first step, plus the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding our older children. For we are all “still” breastfeeding our babies and one or two are “still” very much enjoying sharing that closeness with their older children. None of us have plans to stop any time soon. From the very beginning Angela’s group has been a great success. I have seen new first time mothers walk through Angela’s door with various problems borne from conflicting information received in the hospital, mothers with babies who were slow to gain weight, those with a poor latch and a baby who was born early. There have been mothers who experienced traumatic births but nevertheless sailed through breastfeeding their older child, and then suddenly found themselves experiencing an unexpected problem feeding their new baby. I saw Angela help and assist them all. Tirelessly. I salute each and every woman who has taken it upon themselves to create breastfeeding groups in local communities, whether they have 15 members or 100 members. I believe such groups serve a dual purpose; they are there to offer a helping hand and to assist mothers with their breastfeeding journey but they are also a wonderful chance for me, and I am sure lots of other mothers across the country, to be in the company of like-minded parents. It is an opportunity for me to be social and helps me escape the confines of the house with three small children until school is out and the oldest boy returns home. If I am of a mind I will wear a bit of make-up, maybe even brush my hair before going and make sure my shoes match. The boys, for I don’t travel alone, also enjoy this break from the norm and I am sure, even though they are not fully aware of it, appreciate their new and energised mother afterwards, thanks to the company and the chat. I am of the strong opinion that such gatherings, be they mother and toddler groups or breast feeding groups, are very important for those of us who are not in the vicinity of water coolers in an office environment anymore thus cannot avail of the social outlet they provide. A vomiting bug visited our house in May and I was unable to attend my beloved Group. If there was any doubt in my mind about my attachment to it, (there wasn’t) missing it that week only proved to me how invaluable that weekly contact with Angela and the other ladies is. And, it has to be said, it’s the best cup of coffee all week!