On the first Thursday of the month, in the fellowship hall of Community United Methodist Church, an eclectic group of mothers gathers for the evening. Some come alone, taking an evening off from the demands of parenting. Some bring their babies, rocking them in strollers or their arms.
This is the Columbia Mothers of Multiples Club, or MOMS, a group that formed in 1980 and now numbers some 65 members. They shore each other up through the exciting and scary experience of having multiple-birth children.
Laura Pattrin, 24, is a single mom from Columbia. She started coming to the meetings when she was pregnant with twins and met Sara Bozdech, 23 — another single mom-to-be, also from Columbia, also pregnant with twins. Nearly a year later, Pattrin’s twins are 6 months old; Bozdech’s are 8 months. The women have become close friends, getting together three or four times a week and creating their own extended family.
“It was really nice having someone at the exact same time going through the exact same things,” Pattrin said.
To find goods for the MOMS Club semi-annual garage-sale fundraiser this past spring, the two young mothers preshopped for baby strollers and SpiderMan pajamas the night before the sale’s opening. They laughed and chatted while searching through racks, but Pattrin couldn’t enjoy herself. Relatives had her girls for the weekend — the first time she had been away from them for longer than 12 hours.
“I just want to be with them,” Pattrin said, wringing her hands.
“The first time was the hardest for me, too,” Bozdech assured, trying to comfort her friend.
Club member Misty Keene, 30, of Fulton, tells the story of how she came to terms with a minivan. When she had her first child two years ago, she bought a new red Saturn with a moon roof, determined to be a parent while maintaining her youth. Then, a few weeks shy of having boy-girl twins, she found herself buying a Dodge Caravan.
“I’ve pretty much conceded to being a soccer mom,” she said with a sigh.
Keri Showers, 27, of Columbia, joined the club in April; her twins-to-be are due in the fall. The small bump now growing at her waist is the result of a frustrating yearlong series of fertility treatments.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster,” she said. The fertility treatments are expensive and the process is a long one.
Georgia Hudson, 34, of Columbia, is a stay-at-home mom with twins. She came to the club a little more than two years ago, when her twins were about 5 months old.
“It was just helpful to have someone else know what you’ve been through,” she said. “It’s good to have somebody you can lean on.”