I didn’t realize how lonely the first month after having a baby really is. Sure, you have the company of the baby, but for someone who is used to being around other people on a daily basis and having some form of adult human interaction, it can be a shock to the system (in addition to the other stuff that comes with having a baby, which I won’t go into here).
While it has gotten considerably easier to find our groove over two months, a huge part of my rediscovered happiness has been found online. In addition to streaming a lot of Bravo and Netflix, and consulting Dr. Google at least once a day for 4 weeks, the internet has actually helped me step into my new role.
Without being as cliché to say “find your tribe,” there can be a sense of “these are my people” when you connect with the right groups/people/apps.
Private Groups. One of the biggest things online that helped me feel connected was private groups. A few of them are directly related to “mommy stuff” and another is a fitness accountability group. People post daily about challenges/victories, offer advice, and are overall supportive. The groups I like and participate in have a few things in common:
- There’s no judgment. Mom-shaming is real, and from what I’ve seen it tends to come from other moms. The mom groups I like participating in are honest and not critical of each other’s parenting choices. I won’t go into detail my feelings about this, but when people come to a safe space to vent or genuinely ask for help, the last thing that makes them feel “connected” is getting criticized.
- It’s honest. The groups I like are the ones that really capture the “win some, lose some” essence of everyday life. It’s not always Instagram worthy, but it’s still nice to share. For instance, one mom had gotten glammed up, just because, only to have her kiddo spit up all over her outfit. Some days I work out in my living room in baggy t-shirts and boxer shorts. The point is we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
- It feels like a conversation. After all, that’s why I sought out online groups in the first place. The best groups encourage others to post and it’s not all dominated by one person (but there usually is some sort of moderator who keeps things going if needed).
If you can find a group with a common interest, join up! If you can’t find one…create one 🙂
Events on Facebook. Another way to stay connected is looking at the events on Facebook. One of my friends actually pointed out Emlen Family Doula’s new Postpartum Support Group that meets every first and third Sunday. Without Facebook, I never would have known about this delightfully local and incredibly relevant/helpful event.
You can search events locally, by event “type,” and Facebook will also let you know if you have a few friends interested in a nearby event (which may or may not feel a little bit creepy). This example is more of an intersection between online and “real life” but it helped me feel connected to other people in a meaningful way.
Hobbies. For me, working out has always been something that brings me joy. Using the power of the internet to read blogs from some of my favorite fitness people (Hungry Runner Girl, Carrot’s N Cake) helped me feel someone connected again. That, and I was able to stream some easy post-partum workouts to get my endorphin level back up before getting the doctor’s clearance to resume a more intense program. For other people, connecting with a hobby online may mean perusing through Pinterest or writing blog posts of their own.
Entertainment. My postpartum period was not all productive (actually a small percent of it was). Most of it was spent catching up on Bravo TV, checking out some new Netflix shows (American Vandal satisfies my love for true crime and comedy). Another source of entertainment was Instagram. There are a lot of funny/absurd memes about parenting- and complete randomness- that ate up more of my time than I’d care to admit. Strange as it may seem, these memes actually made me feel connected to the outside world because it helped me remember that it everyone struggles- but sometimes you just have to laugh about it.
Turn it Off. Honestly, sometimes it’s all a bit overwhelming and you just have to step away from your phone or computer. Maybe make some tea, go outside for fresh air, read a book…we all need a break every now and then! Sometimes the most important connection to focus on is the one with yourself.
I’m happy to slowly be reconnecting with the world, online and off… and I hope this post helps at least one other person do the same.