Lesson 2: Join a community

I may have gotten just a bit ahead of myself in my last post, because registering for your baby is probably not the first thing you’re going to do right after you piss on a stick and get that big positive sign. I don’t know about you, but the first thing I did was laugh, scream a few curse words, laugh again, and finally sit on the floor of my bathroom and cry (tears of joy!). We hadn’t been trying long (just 4 months), but I was beyond thrilled to find out I was pregnant. Maybe you were too, or maybe you weren’t.

I had it all planned out in my head how I would tell my husband, but that went straight to the pooper in all of my excitement. I gave him a few lies to get him to come home from work early, but when that didn’t work I just burst out with the news. As soon as he came home, we made the phone calls and told the family and a few very close friends, but we wanted to keep it mostly to ourselves at least until after the first trimester. I got a recommendation for an OB-GYN, made an appointment, and was disappointed to find out she wouldn’t be able to see me for several more weeks. What if the test was wrong? What if I got all excited only to discover that I wasn’t really pregnant? All of those fears were, of course, unfounded because it’s virtually impossible to get a positive on an at-home pregnancy test if you’re not actually pregnant. But still, I took another just to be sure. Still pregnant!

So after telling the few people we knew we’d tell right from the start and making the obligatory OB-GYN appointment I was still bursting with excitement and couldn’t tell anybody, couldn’t share this most wonderful news. I was dying to spill it!

I soon discovered what would be my support-group all through pregnancy, the ladies I would share my excitement, fears, frustrations, joy and obsession with. I joined a Due Date Club on Babyzone. At first I just lurked a bit, reading their posts, not imagining I could ever really connect with people I hadn’t actually met. After all, they weren’t “real people,” right? They were imaginary beings in my computer box. I was definitely skeptical.

But eventually I started replying to posts and, finally, making posts of my own. I already had wonderful mom friends in my everyday life who were ready and willing to let me gush about my excitement, offer great advice, and answer my questions. But it was so nice to find a group of women who were going through the same thing as me at the exact same time. We were pregnant together, gave birth together, and struggled together through those first few weeks of learning to care for a newborn. We talked each other through breastfeeding problems at 2am, assured those who were unable to breastfeed their babies that formula would, in fact, not poison them, helped each other through the inevitable arguments you’re absolutely going to have with your spouse during this time, encouraged one another that, yes, you are going to survive during these sleep-deprived nights and yes, you are being the best mom you can possibly be. We rejoiced in each babies’ “firsts” together; we cried together when our maternity leaves ended and we had to send our babies to daycare and go back to work; we celebrated our babies’ first birthdays together. We became close friends, even though most of us had never met face-to-face. We called each other, texted each other, and moved our group of girlfriends to a private group on Facebook, for easier access to one another. Some of us are even lucky enough to visit each other from time to time, to have a play date during the day, then drink wine and have girl time late into the night.

Maybe an online community isn’t for you, and that’s ok. But I encourage you to find somebody you can lean on during this time when your entire life is changing. Join a mommy group in your home town, join one online, do whatever you have to do to ensure yourself the support you’re going to need. Because I can promise you, you’re going to have some (mostly) irrational fears and there is nothing more reassuring than a group of women who can talk you off the ledge and reassure you that you’re not the first new mom to worry that the baby is going to fall out if you strain too hard to poop.

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