Last year I found myself peering over my burgeoning belly and Googling "how to make pregnant friends." It's a strange thing — realizing you're the first in your group of friends to get pregnant and finding that you don't have anyone close with whom to compare belly sizes. My best friend, who had her own young child, lived across the country. My husband and I had friends in our hometown, but we were the only ones even close to having kids. I figured once the baby came, there would be opportunities to meet other mothers, but I wanted confidants to turn to during my pregnancy. Should I strike up a conversation after prenatal yoga? Would my obstetrician have suggestions for pregnancy support groups? That lady in the frozen aisle at the grocery store looks pregnant — would she be my friend?
My Google search led me to an app called Peanut. For lack of a better description, it's like Tinder for moms. Upon downloading, you create a profile with a few photos and information about your lifestyle, interests, and kids. I narrowed down my friend search to other women within 10 miles of me who were also expecting their first "peanut." I got so excited about swiping up and down (rather than left and right) that I even signed up to be in the company's ambassador program. Turns out that I way overestimated how much time and energy I would have to be an ambassador for anything other than my couch, but partaking in the program gave me the excuse to throw a small gathering at my home for all the soon-to-be mothers with whom I'd been chatting.
At this point, I was about four months along. I invited Ashlee, my first and only solo Peanut date, who assured me she would come and be fully supportive. Then I invited eight unknown women into my home for coffee and cake. I had asked my husband to leave so my new friends would be comfortable discussing their emotional and physical aches and pains.
(Although I chose to host a get-together in my home, I would suggest meeting at a public space like a coffee shop or a park. It might mean you don't get as deep in conversation as you would in a private space, but it's a safer idea in the long run. Always tell someone close to you where you're going and with whom you're meeting!)
The connections were so natural that by the end of an hour, we were confessing how isolated we had felt at different points of our pregnancies.
We talked about morning sickness and how terrified we were at the idea of giving birth. We traded notes on pregnancy fitness classes at the local community pool and took turns guessing which direction our fetuses were facing at the moment. The connections were so natural that by the end of an hour, we were confessing how isolated we had felt at different points of our pregnancies. After discussing constipation and concerns with in-laws, we traded information and agreed to get together again soon.
Under different circumstances, it would have been easy to go our separate ways. But we were bound together by this shared experience. We craved the comfort of company. Over the course of the next several months, we laughed at Amy Schumer's Growing special and ate a massive charcuterie spread at Jessica's place. We ate (lots of) tacos on Ashlee's shag carpet. We swam and we stretched and we started a group chat for all our gripes. Not everyone was able to make every event, but as time went on, a few more women were added to our circle, so meetups always felt full.
When the babies came, we emailed long pregnancy stories and bulleted lists of tips. Our birth stories were all so different, but each one helped prepare the others for what to expect. Do shower at home if you have time; don't underestimate the power of mesh underwear. Do have a birth plan ironed out early; don't be afraid to ask for what you need.
By the end of the Summer, all the babies had arrived and our pregnancy group had turned into a mommy group. Newborns meant we were up at all hours, and having women to text at 2 a.m. was vital to keeping my postpartum anxiety in check. Our chat became filled with questions and answers about diaper rash, hand-me-downs, and day cares. We made a closed Facebook group to plan play dates and a Google calendar on which to keep track of them.
It's been nearly a year since the first baby was born, and we still try to meet every few weeks — our partners even get together for their own sessions. Where once we were lounging in chairs and sipping tea, we now sit in a circle with our babies futzing around in the middle. They're at various stages of crawling, and soon we'll need to find a space where they can run and play.
Any parent will tell you it's a gift to be able to watch their baby grow, but it's even more rewarding to see your baby's friends grow as well. I've known these babies since before they were born. Their mothers helped me get through the greatest, most terrifying time of my life. And as we approach a time when our calendars will be filled with first birthdays, I'm reminded that this is just the beginning of our friendship.