When It Takes A (Virtual) Village

I was 32 when I fell pregnant with Felix, I’d been married for two months and we’d decided to crack on with trying to have a baby soon after the wedding, so that February when I discovered that baby no.1 was on the way (the night after a pretty big evening of birthday celebrations) I was very happy.

I was the first of my close friends to get pregnant, and they were all very excited about the prospect, which was great, but as the months ticked by I found that I didn’t really have many people that I could chat to about pregnancy.

Like most first time mums-to-be I spent most of my time Googling pregnancy symptoms and pouring over the ‘your baby at X week’ trackers and this is when I discovered Mumsnet had an antenatal forum and clubs that shared the same due month.

I’m SO glad I decided to join in the conversation as it soon became invaluable to me to be able to talk to people who were at the same stage of pregnancy and have the knowledge of those that were on their second or third child. I soon found I didn’t have to spend ages looking for advice, it was all there in one place.

As time ticked by we moved our group to Facebook where we could put faces to names and five years on we’re (mostly) all still there on our October baby bus, there’s been a few dramas, but we’ve mainly all stayed onboard. We’ve seen each other through super happy times, desperately sad times and everything in between, but without the support and friendship from this bunch of randoms thrown together because we were having babies in the same month I would have been lost many, many times.

I hadn’t quite realised the support that you need when you’re having your first baby. I was told to join an NCT group by a colleague as it was a great way to meet other mums. I remember thinking ‘I’ve got more than enough friends, so I don’t need to do that’ and I was SO wrong. Yes, I had plenty of friends from my old life, but I’m not sure what I thought I was going to do all day when they were working. Or when they were all out at the weekend and I was staying in with a newborn.

I just don’t think I’d realised how isolating having a baby could be when you’re kind of out there on your own, I felt so lonely a lot of the time as my husband went back to work after the standard two weeks’ paternity leave, and while my friends still took an interest in me and in us, I still felt like something was missing.

I ventured to a few baby classes but they weren’t really for me. I found that most of the other mums had already made friends though the NCT classes that I was now cursing myself that I didn’t go on, so I never really got past making the smallest of small talk with them. And to be honest, it wasn’t much to look forward to week after week, so I stopped going.

But through this I still had my group of mums online, who even though we’d never met still felt like my closest pals. Five years on we still talk on a daily basis, we share pictures, advice, opinions, funny stories about our kids, dating, and family life and over the years there have been meet-ups, day trips, and there’s even a mini break on the horizon.

Luckily this time round with baby no.2 has been totally different as I’ve got loads of old and new friends with babies, but I look back on that time I had with Felix and just feel quite sad about it. But if it hadn’t been for my virtual village I would have been completely alone. I’m still so glad to have all those ladies in my life, we’ve all been on quite a journey over the past five years, hopefully we’ll still be there in five more.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I found mine online.

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