The New Village
How ironic is it that contributing to the human population brought about the loneliest of feelings? It is odd, isn’t it? Having a fresh, demanding baby barnacled to my boobs day and night, and I’d never felt such isolation. Until I accepted an invite to a group chat…
Lets back up.
About 3 months into my pregnancy, Matt and I joined a Bradley Method childbirth class that would take place over the course of twelve weeks. We were preparing for an unmedicated hospital delivery alongside six other couples who were preparing for their own preferred deliveries. I was the least progressed in my pregnancy of everyone in the class, with the only March due date. Everyone else would have their babies in January and February.
Over the span of the next few months, we got to know each others’ fears and hopes around labor and parenting, and it was a very special time. I didn’t quite realize it then, but there is something about sitting in a room with 6 other pregnant women weekly. Seeing their bodies doing the same work as mine. Growing babies and still managing to sit on floor pillows each week to discuss pain management techniques. Reminding each other (and ourselves) why it was important to us that we give our very best shot at a no/low-intervention birth, and that if things did not go as we were preparing for, that it was not an indication of what we could “handle” and did not qualify us as failures in any way. That class would result in the first of my friend “village” as “they” (you remember “they” from last week, right?) call it.
Our last class was some time at the end of 2014. I’d friended everyone on social media and got to see through Facebook as each couple announced bringing their babies into the world, starting in January. As every girl I’d shared three months of intimate floor-pillow-sitting and boiled-egg-and guacamole-eating evenings with, one by one, announced that they’d done it, the very thing I was so unbelievable terrified of for my entire pregnancy, I got more and more anxious. It was inevitable the time would come when I would be the lone pregnant wolf of that particular pack. And I was scared. Also huge.
Labor came and went on March 23, 2015. I will save my birth story for another post, but you should know (especially if you are pregnant, scared of labor and needing some positivity) that it all happened as planned, and I intend to do it all over again some day. You can do it!
The night my milk came in, rendering my boobs bigger than I ever could’ve hoped for, harder than bricks, and ultimately making it impossible for my starving baby bird to latch, I received an invite to a group chat from one of the girls from our childbirth class. I accepted, and from that point on, I had company. After several nights at home with around the clock nursing, very little sleep, and night time anxiety off the charts, I had new mama company. We were up, and still are sometimes, every hour with each other some nights answering questions, asking questions, crying, laughing, all over text. And it helped things out a lot, emotionally. I’ve since found even more village people, naturally, in friends who are going through parenthood, too.
I have Matt, duh. And my own mother has been a crucial part of my support system, of course. Other family members, close friends, the What To Expect boards, and Family Feud have played and continue to play huge parts in my success as a mama, providing me with breaks, support, encouragement and all kinds of love. However, having the ability and access to connect with people who are in it with you is what takes village potential up a huge notch. If you are in the thick of it, whatever “it” may be, my hope is that you will find your people. Even if you have to be the one to initiate.
It’s not only about finding someone with answers or having anyone else’s answers. It is about avoiding pitfalls where possible by accepting help or company or invitations to group chats from people who know what you’re up against because they’re up against it, too.
If you’re unsure of how to find your village, be it you’ve just moved to a new town or whatever the reason, my advice is to use social media. I’ve connected with so many amazing mamas this way since having Isla. I know it can sound cheesy, but follow people on Instagram whose content is inspiring and uplifting. It really helps. (Although be careful not to fool yourself into thinking you aren’t doing things “right” if your life doesn’t match up to someone else’s Instagram pictures. Use it for good old fashioned inspiration, not to doubt yourself.) Find local Facebook groups. I am part of a local parenting group that is made up of the most supportive and kind parents, ready to do their best to help in any way they can through a computer screen. Search for these groups on Facebook and let yourself in.
You are not alone. Find your village! Let us be part of it.
Its like, suddenly Sister Wives makes so much sense. You know?