Matt and I waited 6 years after we were married to start a family. We spent those years sleeping in, traveling, spending time with friends, and eating quiet dinners out – all things we knew would be harder to do after we had kids. Because of this, we thought we were so “ready.” We thought it would be easy.
For me, the sadness set in before we even brought our first sweet baby girl home from the hospital. I felt it profoundly and I suspect looking back now others are able to see it too. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt so alone. I was the last of my friends to have a baby and none of them had ever experienced postpartum depression. As the weeks went on, the sea I was swimming in was getting deeper and deeper.
Meanwhile, I emailed friends to ask where I could take the baby so we could meet other new moms. My friends at the time had children who were preschoolers and school aged kids – they didn’t know where the first time moms with infants hung out. I felt so isolated.
I saw a breastfeeding support group advertised on the local hospital’s website. Breastfeeding had been a struggle for us and I thought it could be helpful to attend. Plus, I was desperate for some adult interaction.
Walking in to the meeting was a breath of fresh air. The room was full of mothers and new babies. This is where my first mom friends came from.
It took 2 weeks until I gave them my 7th grade look that begged them to invite me to lunch afterwards. Lunch was during Katherine’s nap time and since she was a horrible sleeper, I never allowed her to get off schedule. This was one time I was willing to sacrifice so I could have some adult company.
Lunch was the beginning of one of the best experiences. I finally had friends who were in the same stage of life that I was. We suffered through sleepless nights and nursing strikes. We worried about late crawlers, baby proofing, and how to get rid of tantrums. We vented about husbands who worked too many hours and brainstormed ways to get them more involved. We had playdates specifically to get our kids to try new foods. We laughed, we cried, we talked, we drank coffee, we drank wine. We celebrated birthdays, new babies, new jobs, new homes, and even moves across the country. We spent hours on the phone and in each other’s living rooms.
We were united.
My postpartum depression continued until I got help. Although I was immensely sad at home, I was never sad in the company of these women. These women lifted me in joy during what was the most challenging and lonely times in my life. We all came from different ethnicities, geographic locations, backgrounds, education, and upbringing, but we clung to each other tightly as we navigated these muddy waters of motherhood together.
I’ve learned now that each stage of motherhood brings just the right friends into your life. Without good friends, motherhood can be the loneliest place in the world. But these friends? They got me off to a great start. I’m not sure what my motherhood journey would have looked like without them. I am so incredibly thankful for their support and friendship.
When they say it takes a village to raise a child, they really mean it takes a village to support a mother.