Online Support for Moms

Early in my first trimester I signed up for Baby Center’s forums and joined August 2012 due date month, as did over 22,000 other women. It was nice to be able to read that other women were experiencing the same things, or double check that something was normal, or just lurk and read the posts. <–such a first time mom.

But it soon turned ugly. Very ugly. Women were creating drama when they disagreed and the threads turned into a warzone of mommy opinions. (Can you imagine a room full of hundreds of moms debating vaccines/circumcision
/cosleeping, how many ultrasounds are okay/medications/parenting styles etc). People would probably die. Thank God it was all online. I'm pretty sure half of them signed up just to create drama and they didn't really need advice or have any to offer.

One member created a private group for our due date week August 11-15 Due Dates. Mine was the 11th, so I asked to join, along with 61 other people. The first few posts were superficial ones like, "First OB appointment!" Or "What's for dinner?" Only about 25 would post and reply on a regular basis. Although we weren't sharing too much personal information (we all realized there was potential for weird stalker creeper things to happen) we did get to know each other over time. We continued to support each other (without any mommy wars that were on the main board). And not just support through morning sickness, but things like relationship problems, health issues, moving, job changes, and death of family members and pets. We posted our ultrasound pictures, shared our appointment info and worries. It was exciting to see who would have their baby first. As our due dates approached, I was constantly checking for birth announcements.

After our babies were born, it was much harder to keep up with each other. I missed a lot of what was happening with everyone else those first few weeks as I got the hang of motherhood. First we started following each other on Instagram so we could see each other's babies daily. Then we finally let go of any online stranger weirdness and made a private group on Facebook. We took with us the only members who were "regulars."

My husband has referred to them as my virtual reality friends, which is kind of funny. But I know they are much more than that. Because of these women, I am a much better mother. They were the ones who told me cosleeping is okay and why, and how it works for them when I didn't know anyone else who had done it. They introduced me to the blog Nurshable, which gave me patience to not let Layla cry it out in her crib. They helped me with breastfeeding and gave me emotional support. I took their advice on introducing solids and which baby products to buy. I trust their opinions on pretty much everything. We do Secret Santas for holidays and their first birthdays. We also laugh together, a whole lot.

I am also lucky enough to live an hour from 2 of them. For the most part though, we are scattered throughout the country. A couple women are married to farmers in the Midwest. A few are west coast city girls. Some of us have tattoos and others wouldn't dare. We have a 20 year age difference among us. We have different views on religion, politics, and parenting- yet we have not had ONE argument.

I guess we all know that the most important thing is that we love our babies and we all are just doing what works for our families. So we just support each other and offer suggestions to problems without passing judgement. I have yet to meet most of these wonderful women in person, but I feel like I have known them and their families forever. They make my world a better place.

If someone told me 2 years ago when I signed up for Baby Center that I would be writing this about these people I met online, I would have laughed. Hard. I guess the joke is on me.

Happy last day of August to my August mamas ❤
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disclaimer** the chances of finding a group like this are seriously slim. But it's worth a try, because if you land a group of women like I did, consider yourself extremely lucky!

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Emotional Late-Night Ramblings

One of my biggest hopes is that Layla will look to me for guidance and take my advice to heart when she is a teenager. I made mistakes that I paid for dearly. I also have had things happen to me that were out of my control. Each experience continues to change who I am just a little bit. I make better decisions now because I know what regret feels like. I know my actions have consequences. I know I’m not the center of the universe.

It’s funny to me now, thinking about beliefs I held as a teenager. Thinking I would believe in the same things, have the same friends, be the same person. The world seemed a lot smaller living under my parents’ roof. Now it’s huge and scary and much worse things have happened than my friend talking about me behind my back. And I’ve learned how fragile life can be which instantly puts things into perspective.

Each person grows at their own pace, which I believe is a big reason friendships don’t always last. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, two people who used to be close just can’t relate any longer. Two people have two different life experiences that can change the way they see themselves and the world, and then there’s no going back. It’s not really about who is “right” or “mature”… It just changes things, and it’s okay to let go.

Having a baby is one of those things that changes you. I know people who don’t have kids hate hearing the phrase, “you’ll understand one day when you have a kid.” (I totally hated this phrase pre-baby). But it’s so so so true! It’s one of the only experiences that can turn you into a selfless and sacrificing person overnight. You may still desire to do the same things you did before you had kids but can’t, or they may become silly things you can’t believe you spent time and money on in the first place. Having a kid is so utterly time consuming and exhausting (yet ridiculously rewarding) that I can only make time for what (and who) I absolutely want to, if I’m lucky. Basically what I’m trying to say is, a baby forces you to cut the crap out quickly.

I know Layla will make her own mistakes and learn her own lessons. I just wish there was a way she could learn what is important in life without having to experience heartache over it all. I hope she can recognize good people and stay away from ones who aren’t. I hope I can teach her how to be a sensitive person and a good friend. I hope she is grateful and humble and kind. I want her to follow through on her dreams. And I hope I can be there for her enough when life knocks her down, because it seems like you just can’t escape that. Each day is a special gift, so above everything else, I hope I can show her how to love each other deeply.

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