My Virtual Mom Friends Saved Me From Postpartum Loneliness
When my son was born, I tried making new mom friends IRL, only to realize my tribe was one click away.
The first rule of the Hot Mess Mamas Club: Offer unconditional support through this crazy journey of motherhood. There are only two other members in the club, but these women have been my rock ever since my son, Camilo, came into the world. So what if we have never actually hung out in person?
We became friends in 2018, when we were pregnant at the same time. Sorority sisters who had attended the same university, the three of us were connected on social media and formed a chat on Facebook Messenger when we learned that we were all expecting. There, we bonded over our big bellies, shifting hormones, and stretch marks. I quickly discovered that Dianna, in New York City, can find humor in just about any situation, and Amber, in Tampa, has a way of bringing calm to the chaos. Still, I didn’t fully realize how these women would end up becoming my lifeline.
A year before, my husband, Geovanny, and I relocated for work to the small town of Dracut, Massachusetts, from Florida, where we had left behind our family, our friends, and a strong Latino community. Though we had struggled to forge new friendships, it wasn’t until we brought our baby home from the hospital that I felt the depth of my loneliness.
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Sure, my Dominican mom, like any abuela worth her salt, was right there with me during La Cuarentena—the first 40 days of a baby’s life—making sure that I was getting enough rest and nutrition as I adjusted to this new phase. But after she returned home to Florida, I found myself inexplicably crying one night while cradling my son. I wanted to talk to other new moms in real life and hear whether they, too, struggled with breastfeeding and the many demands of a newborn.
Desperate to meet moms like myself, I joined a local support group. I can still remember wrapping my 1-month-old up in fleece blankets and braving the February cold to attend our first meeting. Excitement and nerves eventually led to disappointment when I saw that I was the one Latina in a group of women who had already formed close bonds. And while I was familiar with being the only person of color in a room, I found it hard to deal with this time around.
I craved the kind of close conversations that come from shared life experiences: How were other moms coping with all the unsolicited advice from relatives? Was anyone else wondering how to raise a proud Latino child in a town with little diversity?
After a few more failed attempts at getting “out there,” I decided to cling closer to my small but mighty virtual crew. Over the past year, Dianna, Amber, and I have shared everything—from our postpartum recovery experiences to dozens of memes about sleep deprivation. Our Facebook chats are an endless stream of questions, moments of both panic and joy, and even more important, love and encouragement.
I especially enjoy the freedom that comes with our social-media friendship: the raw honesty, the ability to dip in and out of nuanced conversations, and the reassurance that Dianna and Amber will always be there for me, day or night. Because even at 3 a.m., it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in the world.
This article originally appeared in Parents Latina Magazine's February/March 2020 issue as “In Search of Postpartum Pals.”