As a working mom, one of the things I’m sorely lacking in is actual human interaction with other moms with children around the same age as mine. You know, the ones that are going through the exact same things as you are? The ones who are up all night, every night. The ones who have pureed green beans smeared on their blouses all day without realizing it. The ones who sometimes lock themselves in the bathroom, just for some peace and quiet for just ONE MINUTE.
It’s amazing to me to realize how much mamas need other mamas. Over the years I’ve found that I felt very isolated without other moms who are going through the same things as me. I have an amazing support network – my husband, my mother, my friends with and without children, my coworkers, but quite frankly, it simply not the same. Don’t get me wrong, these people in my life are all wonderful and essential, but for a mom you just need to be able to talk to someone who can say to you “Girl, you know I feel you. My kid does the same exact thing.” And you know she completely understands. For me, working full-time, with no availability to go to mom’s groups or play dates with other mothers, it has been impossible to find this type of interaction until I found my “mamas” in an unlikely place.
When I found that I was pregnant with my third baby I randomly joined a mom’s chat board, and happened to see a general invite to a Facebook (November) Birth Month Group. I joined, not thinking much of it at the time. Thinking I might be able to ask a couple questions here and there and commiserate about general pregnancy woes like “How did my feet grow two sizes?” or “How many times did you get up to pee last night?”I figured I’d use it once in a blue moon. I was wrong. That was two years ago and these women are still a huge part of my life. My invisible, behind-the-scenes support system.
Two years ago it started out with over 300 women of all different backgrounds, ages and stages of life. New first time moms to seasoned fourth time moms. At the beginning it was all the same questions and a lot of getting used to one another. Imagine 300 women in one room having different conversations all at the same time. It was overwhelming to say the least. But as the pregnancies progressed we got used to one another. We found a wealth of information in our different perspectives. The new moms made us veteran moms remember the thrill of a first time pregnancy, when everything is new and incredible (after the morning sickness and before you hit that 9 month wall). Us old-timer moms were able to give tips of the trade to the new ones that aren’t written about in baby books or mentioned in polite conversation (two words: mucous plug, I’ll just leave that right there). It was like having a group of friends, going through the exact same things as you, available to talk you through anything at any time of the day, and they were just a click of a button away.
The best part was when the babies started coming. We were all due in November and so once October hit it was babies, babies, babies. They were coming fast and furious and it was so exciting. Every day you would see a new baby announcement and you would feel a distinct kinship with these women who had been along for the ride with you for the past 9 months, even though for most of us had never met in person.
It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There were stupid fights and silly arguments. The internet is a prime place for misunderstanding since you’re not speaking to someone fact to face. People came and went. People disliked one another, which isn’t surprising with a group of that many (mostly hormonal and sleep-deprived) women. Then there were tough times. Babies who wouldn’t sleep, the stress of returning back to work, juggling multiple children, military spouses being deployed. Then there were the heart-breaking times. Mamas whose babies came way too early, NICU stays, cancer, job loss, death. It was in those times where these women rallied. I’ve never seen so many virtual prayers sent and shoulders available for someone to cry on. Most of all I’ve found a circle of friends. Friends who boost me up in the midst of postpartum depression and friends who talk me down when I’m being ridiculous. They are priceless.
This group of women and I, we are in the thick of motherhood. I’ve heard it been called “the trenches of motherhood” with these little ones. And I cannot tell you how amazing it is to have an army of 150 women in those trenches along with me.