Skip to content

I Miss The Understanding Of Like-Minded People And I Feel Lonely

  • 10 min read

Parents want to protect themselves and others in COVID times by having as little contact as possible with the outside world. But this can leave them mentally drained and depressed. This is how I handle it.

Especially for young parents, social contacts are a balm for the soul. Talking about worries and challenges and asking others for help during pregnancy and the overwhelming first months with a baby eases the mental load. In fact, with regular social interaction, the risk of becoming depressed decreases.

In times of COVID, (new) parents tend to keep face-to-face contact to a minimum to protect themselves, their baby, and their vulnerable older relations. But it is precisely this lack of contact that can quickly wear you down and make you sad and angry. And all at the worst possible time of your life. Where to go with all the questions from everyday life with baby, without personal encounters with other parents?

I imagined my pregnancy quite differently

I, myself, had imagined my pregnancy and the first months with a baby quite differently. I planned to attend a yoga course and pelvic floor and gymnastics classes with other pregnant women, but the emerging pandemic soon threw a spanner in those works. Immediately after my son's birth, I had thought about a baby swimming class, fitness walks with strollers, restorative yoga, participation in toddler groups, baby massage, maybe even children’s gymnastics. But none of my plans could be implemented.

The weeks when I could still do my yoga, gymnastics, and pelvic floor training face to face in a small group gave me a lot of space to exchange experiences and worries with a wide variety of mommies: those who are becoming moms for the first time, those who already have a child or even several and, and… A large part of those meetings was used for personal exchange.

When I took part in the birth preparation course with my husband, Coronavirus was already the town's talk, and we were cautious because it was also the flu season, and we tended to avoid contact. Despite all this, we chatted briefly on the sidelines of the seminar with a nice single mom who I liked right away and whose due date was only a few weeks before mine.

Shortly after the birthing class, things came to a head with COVID. My husband and I withdrew, settled into our ‘home office’, only went for walks as a couple, and didn’t even meet my parents (in-law). These months before the birth of our baby were very challenging. Not only because of the changes that pregnancy brings with it, such as shortness of breath, never-ending nausea, etc., but also because of the uncertainties and fears that suddenly became part of everyday life due to COVID. With the greatest effort, I tried to remain optimistic, to see the crisis as an opportunity. My husband was allowed to work 100% remotely early on, so he was always there when I needed him. The cocooning that many people describe also happened to us. We focused entirely on ourselves and our baby. We went for walks in nature for a change of pace. But… I had so many questions inside me that I wanted to ask someone. But where to go and what to do with them?

Although my offline acquaintances with the other moms had been fleeting, I picked out two numbers and typed a WhatsApp message, saying where we knew each other from and asking what their situation was.

And although I had only met both moms in passing, they answered me very quickly. One of the moms was about to reach her due date. Since she had already had a baby, she knew her body very well and had already noticed the first signs that indicated that it was about to go into labor. She was able to tell me about her birth experiences, for example, after the strains of childbirth, you have a ravenous appetite, and it’s best to pack your suitcase full of delicious nibbles.

The other woman was, like me, a new mom-to-be, but a doctor. I shared with her how she planned to navigate a birth in a hospital with Coronavirus with her medical background knowledge. She urged me to pay for a single room and helped me to get an FFP2 mask.

The digital exchange is very important

I have kept in touch with both moms ever since. Although we have only seen each other once and have not met again in person, we are writing to each other. This exchange of thoughts is incredibly important. We can support each other because we are in a similar life situation and have already experienced and suffered through certain challenges together. And all this via WhatsApp. Mutually we ask each other questions like:

How are you coping with breastfeeding?

How do you calm your little one?

When does your baby go to bed?

Does he make those funny noises too?

When and how does he sleep?

This digital exchange makes me feel like I’m not alone in my exciting yet difficult everyday life. We comfort each other, respond to each other’s needs and challenges, lend each other a sympathetic ear and share beautiful moments in the form of photos such as first crawling attempts, but also a black eye sustained when learning to walk. I feel like I can live out my motherhood the same way, even without us meeting

This digital exchange makes me feel like I’m not alone in my exciting yet difficult everyday life.

offline and face to face. This understanding is important to support outside the small family circle. Contact increases self-esteem and quality of life; For example, when we tell each other about problems with the parents-in-law and find out that it’s similar for others. What could be better than feeling understood? To know that what you are doing is ok. Because the other mommy has or had the same problems. Tips and tricks are exchanged between adults, without any baby talk.

Digital touchpoints where you can meet like-minded people

Although my ‘virtual’ contact with other new moms isn’t ideal or how I’d anticipated it, there are a variety of online opportunities to connect with others, and, in fact, aspects of the digital world have been built expressly for that purpose.

Second-hand online sale

Other points of contact are, for example, platforms on which I sell things that our baby has already grown out of. Here I am also in contact with several frequent followers whose babies are a bit younger than mine and can wear his clothes. They tell me about their challenges, e. g. regarding sobbing while I sell them bibs. They ask me about teething since our baby has already three teeth or tell me something about the COVID situation in their hometown. There is also one mother who lives nearby. She is hilarious, and we are on the same page. We have not met in person yet, but it would be great to meet her in the future to push our strollers through our hometown.

Using the business network

Via LinkedIn, I have also written to former colleagues who have had children and chatted with them. They were happy to be in touch, as well. Our topics go beyond our children, and we talk more about business topics like work-life balance with children, remote work, or mutual colleagues and their career paths. Here, I revived old business contacts on a new and more personal level as we now have a common ground.

Online forums

I had often researched in online forums when I had an acute question. For example, I noticed a so-called strawberry spot on my baby’s shoulder blade. The red spot looked dangerous. I quickly calmed down after seeing a long forum post about this benign tissue growth.

Mom influencer

I also find help from mommy bloggers. When my baby is sleeping, I like to read blog posts and get information on relevant topics. I also find the readers’ follow-up comments and the blogger’s response to them interesting. The Internet offers a wide range of (international) opinions. If I only exchanged with my small circle of mothers, I would not have this variety.

Blogging via Medium.com

I started blogging via Medium.com in December 2020, and it is doing me a lot of good. On the one hand, I put my thoughts on paper, and on the other hand, I can read so many different stories through this social media platform that I can sympathize and identify with. Writing about my feelings and experiences, and seeing that others sympathize with it gives me strength and courage to open up to more intimate topics and connect with interesting people worldwide.

Family

Sometimes you don’t even have to look far. A like-minded person can also be found in a close family circle. One is my mother, who can pass on her experiences to me by phone or video call. Additionally, other family members, like my husband’s cousin, who regularly asks how we’re doing, talk about her teenage child and life as a mom, which is like a roller coaster ride.

Husband as a friend

And then there is my husband. With the birth of our baby, suddenly, from one moment to the next, we were no longer just two, a couple, but three and a family. This presents us with challenges every day. On our walks, when our baby is sleeping, we consciously try to meet each other not only in the role of father and mother but also as friends. This helps us reflect on our everyday life and understand the other person's situation better, which minimizes the risk that we start living parallel lives.

Summary:

In times of Coronavirus, we may have little to no face-to-face contact, but we can use our digital channels to stay in touch with acquaintances, revive business ties on another level and even build new friendships. A look at the small circle of family members also shows that one’s own mother or even one’s partner can be a good conversation partner and the broader family such as a cousin to provide additional mental support. Yes, digital touchpoints or contact via phone is not the same as personal, face-to-face contact, but crisis forces us to find new ways and to be flexible.

My recommendations? Even if it’s a rough time, try to stay mentally flexible to stay mentally healthy. Rethink your networks, call old friends, revive your business network, find new ways to talk with your parents, partner, and broader family. Whatever it is that helps you to get through this time. And I am here too and have a sympathetic ear.

What do you do to cope with the crisis, not feel alone, and stay in contact? Let me know, and let’s connect.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *