Updated: May 8, 2020
Pregnancy & motherhood are one of the loneliest experiences out there. Between an ever-changing body, hormones all over the place, the confusion that comes with being a mother, the never-ending "am I doing this right?" thoughts and just overall shit show that is motherhood...it is lonely.
Your partner doesn't understand no matter how many ways you try to explain it. You feel like you're the only one going through these things. You are left crying on the bed just confused about it all. I hear you. I was you. And I am you still sometimes. But that is exactly why we must find our tribe. We must find and surround ourselves with women who get us. Who get what we're going through. Who we can laugh with. Cry with. Be confused with. We must find our tribe & lean on each other. Today's episode will dive into the loneliness of pregnancy and motherhood, why we must find our tribe & how we can go about doing that. Near the end of the episode I mention how I am always here as someone for you to lean on. If you need a woman in your corner and you're not sure where to turn to...please reach out to me. You can find me on Facebook under Jessica Hessels and Instagram under jeshessels You don't have to feel alone. We can do this whole motherhood thing together.
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So, this may sound weird but loneliness is the reason I am here today.
When I became pregnant, it became apparent to me very quickly how lonely I was in my journey. Now don’t get me wrong, Emmanuel is incredible and was there every step of the way as were my friends and family but something was missing.
No matter how supportive my current circle was, I really only had 2 people in my life that really understood what I was going through – my sister who had been pregnant 1.5 years prior to me and a friend who was due about a month before me, but at that time, her and I weren’t all that close yet, but our friendship would evolve as time went on.
But there was never going to be a time where Emmanuel understood what pregnancy was like. Any time I brought anything up to my mom, she would say she couldn’t really remember what it was like being pregnant because it was so many years ago. She also said several times that my problems seemed to be new-age pregnancy problems because she never heard of them before (like carpal tunnel and geographical tongue– but I'm sure they were around in her pregnancy days, she either doesn’t remember or wasn’t exposed to them).
And none of my really close friends had kids yet so they weren’t in the know either.
It was basically just me and my pregnant self feeling all these different types of emotions. My body expanding in new ways. Different aches and pains. Left with my thoughts and concerns and just overall feelings of being alone.
This was supposed to be a time of such great joy and celebration, and I would often find myself bawling my eyes out curled up on the bed or in the shower.
I had so many moments where I questioned what was wrong with me and left wondering if I was the only one who felt this way.
So I started using my social media to voice what was happening in my life.
I would go on my Instagram story and just talk about everything going on or I'd write these long posts on my page highlighting all the confusing shit.
And it was scary as heck. It was actually really scary. It made me feel very exposed, vulnerable and like I was putting too much out there.
But then women started reaching out to me. Some of them pregnant, some of them mothers and some of them without kids.
Time and time again I would read messages like “thank you so much for sharing. I really thought I was the only one going through something like this” “your post let me know that I am not alone” “Im not even pregnant yet but your posts are amazing. Because they highlight the realities of pregnancy, instead of what most social media shows us to be these perfect, happy, pregnancies” “I wish I had an account like this to follow when I was pregnant, I really could have used this”.
And the messages I received from these women kept me going. And time and time again it scares the living begeebies out of me but its led me here today. It's led me to my passion of normalizing motherhood.
To creating a safe place for mothers to come and feel heard.To feel comforted. To know they are not alone on this crazy, lonely, weird, hard journey.
And the biggest lesson I learned through my pregnancy and motherhood is that we’re all really lonely.
All of us at some point.
Whether it's for a moment in time, a long period, or for what seems like an endless amount of time. Whether its feeling lonely about something specific going on, with emotions, thoughts running through our brain, issues...whatever it may be.
Whether it's in pregnancy, labour and delivery or motherhood.
We all go through it. And the unfortunate part is that most moms are afraid to admit it, they think they're the only ones, they're embarrassed, they think that these feelings of loneliness make them lesser of a mom.
But that is so far from the truth.
The truth is that pregnancy, labour and delivery and motherhood is scary.
It's nothing like we expect
It's sucky at times
It's sucky a lot of the time
It's never ending
And it's lonely
But no one ever talks about it. Everyone just puts on a smile, says everything is fine, and finds themselves feeling even more alone, more secluded, more ostracized.
Even though everyone is going through it or has gone through it. We're going through it all on our own in hiding.
And through my own journey of loneliness and sharing my experiences online, I've come to learn that it is imperative that moms find their tribe. It's actually one of the keys to making pregnancy and motherhood less of a shit show.
Your tribe will give you support. They will let you know that you are not alone and that whatever you are going through is normal.
It's not out of this world
It's not something to be embarrassed about
And they will help you through it.
Finding your tribe as a mom, whether you are pregnant or already a mother, is going to change your life. Trust me when I say this. I say this because I know this and I've seen this to be true. I've felt this to be true on my own. I have found support in women who I never would have imagined I would have connect to or reconnected with and it's been incredible.
It's given my confidence in my abilities, comfort in my hardships and support in my loneliness. It has allowed me to feel at home in this journey.
And this feeling is what has continued to push me to be open and honest on my social media and now this podcast. It’s the main goal of the Badass Moms Club, whether that be on my social media or this podcast.
Its my main mission – to normalize motherhood
To create a space that moms can call their home
But as much as I want every mom to call Badass Moms Club their home, I also want you to have a bigger tribe than this! I want you to have women in your life you can message, call up, lean on, laugh with, cry with, and just feel at home with.
So how on earth do we find our tribe?
There’s a few different options
1. Look within your current friend group
This one is challenging for people because a lot of women say that when they had their baby, they lost the friends that didn’t have babies at all or have babies yet. This can happen because your now baby life and your pre baby life can look very different which means the things that brought you and your friends together, may no longer apply. Or your priorities have shifted from late night bar hops to staying in with the fam or impromptu outings have been replaced with carefully planned activities that are now baby friendly. Or your friends don’t understand that meeting up for dinner at 6pm doesn’t work when your baby has to be in bed at 7pm.
Obviously its not nice to lose friends and it doesn’t have to happen but just know if it does, that’s ok too. Your friendship was valuable but sometimes friends come and go. And that’s ok.
But if you want to try to make your friendship continue, the best course of action is having an open conversation with your friends and setting the expectations.
What will hangouts look like?
Will you be able to text or call the same way as before?
And just letting them know you still love them and want them in your life, it will just be an adjustment.
So looking within your own friend group is definitely awesome. If you have friends already who have kids then its probably a more natural road to go down anyways
Theres two ways to find your tribe online: the way I did – by sharing your journey on your social media and organically connecting with other moms or on mommy facebook groups.
The way I did it can be a slow process – like it's taken me basically a year to find 4-5 really good women that I regularly communicate with but it's been so worth it and I love them to pieces...and I also know my tribe is going to expand.
These are generally women I only communicate with online but if you find people in your area you can totally meet up with them too.
In terms of the mommy facebook groups, I have connected with a few moms who I love and will be on the podcast!!!!! Woot woot
BUT I've said it multiple times now and I'll say it again, mommy facebook groups are tricky because there is so much mom-shaming on them. It's really disheartening. I see it all the time and it's just awful.
So be prepared that this is a possibility when joining mommy facebook groups
3. Play groups & the park
Ok, apparently this is an option but its so not me. I'm such a home body that I have yet to hit up a play group or the park once but maybe when Esmé is older and can actually play more.
There are play groups everywhere though and they're usually free which is awesome. So google play groups in your area and you'll find at least one if not several.
And of course there are parks all over the place too.
A lot of moms love these because it gets them out of the house, allows their kid to interact with other kids, and then also lets you talk to other moms/parents and hopefully connect with some people
Alright – all my Tinder and Hinge lovers rejoice! This is a dating app but for moms to find other moms. Aka there are no unsolicited dick pics – thank baby Jesus.
It's essentially the same concept as a dating app though – you set your city – fill out your profile, add some photos, and then swipe to connect with other moms.
The other good thing about it is there is a community board where you can ask questions / see other peoples questions so its also a nice resource for moms.
I don’t know how many moms are on it / how popular it is but I did find there were a lot of moms in the greater Toronto area so its definitely good for that area but I cant speak for outside of that.
When trying to find your tribe its important to note a few things:
1. The first few women you meet may end up being your besties or they may not. Either is okay. There's nothing wrong with getting to know someone and deciding they just aren't your person. That’s life. Not every person you meet is going to jell with you.
Obviously don’t be rude and distance yourself in a tasteful way.
But the reality is, we aren't going to be besties with everyone we meet and we don’t want to force a relationship that just isn't there for us because then down the road, that’s when people get hurt.
2. This may seem but obvious but you'll want to connect with women who have similar values as you, make you feel safe and worthy, and are helpful without shaming you.
So for example, if you find someone who believes in spanking their child and you're super against that, or vice versa, you believe in spanking and the other person really doesn’t, the friendship can most certainly work but it’s definitely harder to have a very open and supportive friendship when your values are way different.
3. And lastly a tip from my sister...she said that she noticed when she was on mat leave that she was making all these super awesome connections with women but then when her mat leave was over, she became a stay at home mom where some of the other women went back to work.
She said she never really thought about it until then but those relationships started to fizzle quickly because the dynamic of their friendship changed drastically.
They went from being able to text/call through the day
Mid afternoon park hangouts
Morning play groups
To basically nothing because when the moms when back to work, their kids went into daycare so my sister and the friend couldn’t really text/call or hangout during the work days.
And then she found that when the moms had days off, instead of toting their kid to play groups and hangouts, they wanted to spend more of their time at home doing house chores and hanging out with their family.
So if you're going to be a stay at home or a working mom following your mat leave, and you make a really close connection with a mom who is the opposite, the friendship can work and will work if both parties put in effort.
But if you're looking for friends who have more of the same lifestyle as you, or you can see more regularly, hoping your kids will hangout and grow up together, and just have a more in-person type of relationship, or have an understanding that its more of a call/text relationship, then you may want to try to get a mom or two that is going to be doing the same thing as you after their mat leave.
Overall, your tribe is out there.
You don’t have to feel alone in your pregnancy and motherhood.
You don’t have to try to convince your partner about how you're feeling or try to make them understand.
You can find women who get it and if they don’t get exactly what you're going through, they’ve been through enough of their own shit to at least empathize.
And if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying!