“Friends are relatives that you make for yourself” – Eustache Deschamps
It’s funny how friends come into your life, and how sometimes the most unlikely friendships become some of the most important.
Five years ago, I was struggling to get pregnant with my 3rd child after my eldest child was diagnosed with an incurable, terminal, degenerative muscle-wasting disease. After 4 miscarriages in 8 months, I was close to giving up. However, in my case, it turned out to be 5th time lucky. We were living in Singapore at the time and, whilst I had quite a few friends, I didn’t have any other friends who were also pregnant. I didn’t want to go through my pregnancy alone, so I joined an American online pregnancy and parenting forum.
Before I knew it, the DIM08 (Due In March 08) board on SK became my web site of choice, and I was on there numerous times a day. Sometimes for hours. We compared notes and ideas on pregnancy symptoms, birth plans, names, inductions, and shared stories on our families, how we got pregnant, and basically our entire lives. When I first joined, there were so many girls. I lost track of who was who. But there were regulars and many of us clicked.
My daughter Saraya was due on March 12, 2008, but due to her being breech we elected to have her delivered by c-section on February 26 (so I wouldn’t go into labour on February 29th – I didn’t want a leap day baby). Suddenly, I felt a little bit out of the loop with the DIM08 board. I fumbled my way onto the BIF08 (Born in February 08) board and timidly introduced myself, expecting to receive an “oh hi, nice to meet you but you don’t belong here” kind of welcome. Instead, I was received by a group of warm and friendly ladies who were more than delighted to have a “newbie” join them.
Fast forward 4 years and I am still friends with the women from that group. Quite a few have left, some were “encouraged” to leave, but the girls who remained forged a bond, a friendship, that I never knew was possible with people I had never met in real life. I’d never even been on a chat room, and the idea of “online dating” was something that desperadoes did, so I never expected this sort of friendship occurring online. But it did.
I’d heard of forums turning into ugly name-calling, mudslinging matches because there was often a difference of opinions in “taboo” areas, and it usually resulted in some members attacking others. This group proved that theory wrong (once we got rid of all the troublemakers by “running them out of town” LOL!). Some of us breastfed, some formula fed, some used disposables, some used cloth diapers, some had natural birth, others had c-section. There were those all for pain relief in labour, and those who would rather go to hell and back, pain wise. Most of us vaccinate, but some of us don’t. We fed our kids homemade purees, and others used store-bought food. Christian or Atheist, gay or straight, CIO or co-sleeping, home-schooling or mainstream schooling. And if someone had their son circumcised, no one batted an eyelash. We all understood that everyone parented differently. We had respect for each other, for each other’s parenting techniques, and none of us judged.Ever. We weren’t those kinds of “know it all” mums (they’d already been run out of our group, and out of town. Hahaha)
We are no longer active on the SK forum. Instead, we have moved our little group onto Facebook. Now, not only can we chat but we can see photos of each other and each other’s families, I can see where they all live, and what they get up to in their day to day lives. I know when one of them is having a tough time, when things are going wrong, or when things are amazing. I have seen most of them go on to have more babies (myself included) and I have shared in their joy and wept for their tragedies.
I have always been there for them, and they have always been there for me. This past year has been particularly hard for quite a few of us, including myself. With James’s disease progressing, marriage problems, financial problems, tragedy, loneliness, and problems with my extended family, they have always been there on Facebook, supporting and encouraging me, crying with me, and trying to cheer me up. With my 40th birthday last month, and no longer having my own extended family in my life, I spent many hours sitting in a cafe crying into my latte, and many nights crying myself to sleep. I felt totally alone in the world.
And then, I come home today to find a parcel in my letterbox, and on it was written “A package of full of love”. Upon opening it, I realised there were 8 envelopes containing cards. Inside each card was a message of love and support, penned by my wonderful BIF08 ladies. I have not felt that loved and appreciated in so long, and its timing could not have been more perfect. Because of them, I have had a smile on my face all day, knowing that on the other side of the world there are some amazing women who love me as much as I love them.
And I am making this promise today – one day I will meet up with every one of you, and give you the real bear hug that has been a long time coming.