For young moms like Briean Vandeventer, of Texas, being the only one of your friends who is expecting can be an isolating situation.
That feeling of loneliness is what led Vandeventer to an online pregnancy group for moms expecting in November of 2008. Hosted on the site JustMommies, the group provided a place for moms and moms-to-be to discuss their pregnancies, ask questions, and alleviate some of their feelings of loneliness and fear.
Now, 10 years later, those moms that Vandeventer first met through the world wide web remain some of her best friends—and the group saw six of the original members meet up recently to reminisce about how important their friendship had been during crucial years.
Take, for example, mom Chelsea Arledge, who joined the group while expecting in California.
Although she lived thousands of miles away from Vandeventer—the group was organized by expected due dates, not by location—Arledge found strength and support from the moms in the group when her water broke just after she passed the 19-week milestone.
She was able to hold on to 23 weeks, drawing reassurance and comfort from the other moms during her 24 days on bedrest, then shared her fears and accepted words of strength and encouragement when she delivered so prematurely.
“They never once questioned my decision to continue with a pregnancy that was, by all medical statistics, surely not going to end well,” recalled Arledge. “I never lost hope and they never left my side.”
Her 142-day journey while Travis fought for his life in the NICU was made more bearable by the group’s presence. She explained that nearly all of her updates during that time came through posts in the mommy group, even after he was discharged.
“He was still a very fragile baby who had many follow-ups and therapy, but I was never alone because I had my tribe,” she explained.
Now, as the group gathered together for the tenth birthday party of one of their children, they looked back on what they’d endured together. Travis’s life was touch-and-go at the start, and two other children had been lost over the last decade—the first to cancer at age 3, then another in a car accident at age 5.
To all the moms out there who may be wondering if that kind of group is for them, these mamas offered up some advice.
“Hold out for the right one,” explained Vandeventer. “Stay away from the groups that are constantly arguing about the right or wrong way to parent. Find the women that are cheering each other on and encouraging one another.”