A guest contribution by a new Indian mom in Germany
This is my first blog. Let me put this disclaimer in the beginning so that you will forgive any mistakes or poor writing from here on.
I am a 29-year-old woman, basically from South India and now living in Germany with my husband and a miniature version of him, a 1year old son. I was lucky enough to get pregnant while I was far away from any possible help and also in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yes! Lucky!
My first connection with a fellow Mom
During my 7th month of pregnancy, my husband and I visited this small temple in Frankfurt just for some good vibes. It was good because the people there were kind, friendly above all, they provided Prasadham and packed some for me because I was pregnant, and they wanted to make me feel at home. That’s where I saw this other pregnant woman who looked almost in her 9th month and also seemed sad, dull, frightened, everything that I was not at that time. I am an introvert. I never socialize. I’d rather pee myself than ask someone for directions to the restroom in a mall. Seriously am that bad. But since I was in a good mood after having delicious prasadham and enjoying the pampering from the people in the temple, I decided to ‘woman up’ and reach her. I had this insane urge to share my positivity and madness with her. I was only assuming that I would be helping her in giving some mom-to-be energy. But as soon as I said a Hi, the roles reversed for me.
Her Hi was even more energetic, matured, calm, and more positive than mine. We had a formal, quick chat. How many months long, where you are from, where you live, how long has it been in Frankfurt etc. And then, she talked about this WhatsApp group for Indian moms and moms-to-be. She sent me the invite to join the group. She said it is beneficial since we are alone and it’s our first time in this motherhood journey. I was skeptical about joining the group.
A group of people in WhatsApp? Useless forwards, outdated fake warnings about blood in Pepsi bottles, “forward to 20 contacts for good news”, “a true Indian would forward,” solve the riddle “what did he open first,” and above all 100s of pictures of someone spending vacation with their family, including videos of them driving their car (just hearing some AR Rahman in highways). These are the WhatsApp groups of random people that I know of. Nothing more. So definitely, I was skeptical about joining the group. Thankfully I did end up joining this group.
The awesome tribe I formed in my group
The group had almost 150 moms (pregnant moms too) with few contacts as admin. Initially, I never read anything in the group because I was afraid that I might bump into something sad or too intense to handle. Since I was going through my first pregnancy with my Husband, alone in Frankfurt, I wanted to save my sanity as much as possible. But slowly, I started reading the conversations, and that blew my mind. For every doubt a mother posts in the group, at least ten people would have responded with solutions or answers or the most underrated response of “I understand what you are going through, hang in there” by the end of the day. It was overwhelming to me because all I could think of was, “How the hell do these women know all these things?” For a brief moment, I assumed that they were professional doctors.
That’s the beauty of the group. Every mother shares her experience, her fears, her doubts, her solutions, her thoughts, her assumptions even her mistakes bravely so that the group becomes One Whole Person that knows in and out of pregnancy and motherhood. How amazing is that! One paranoid mother who rushes to the hospital for a slight cough becomes our life couch in that area. The bravest thing a person can do is to share their fears. And they did it just so to help another troubled heart. Once I saw this, I started bravely sharing my worries in the group. It almost took two months for me to get comfortable. But once I got comfy, they were my therapist in every way. The group is far more comfortable than the Sofa I am sitting in right now in my house. There are people here in the group who trust the group more than we trust our own mothers or doctors.
We grew and enriched ourselves together
I can’t write enough about the topics we discuss on a daily basis. We start with one mama’s query about baby-led weaning and end the day with funny stories about us eating completely non-edible items in our childhood. One mother asks about dealing with contractions during delivery, and we end up sharing funny stories about cursing our husbands during delivery (that would be me). We talk about cooking, fashion, taxing, traveling, children’s education, parenting methods, postpartum depressions, going back to work, sickness, lazy ass husbands (apparently many of us), and many more but above all, “The Forever Critics” – Aunties in our families. Just yesterday, people pitted millions of practical and effective strategies to deal with that last issue. Trust me; it holds up good for its own book.
I say, “my baby isn’t pooping for four days” I get hundreds of remedies sometimes in private messages where mamas share their own experiences. I say the baby has a mild fever; I get thousands of solutions and comforting words. Not just for the baby, for myself too. Just the other day, I said, “thanks for sharing this, I was having a bad day, and this lit me up,” my inbox filled with messages of mamas cheering me and checking if I am okay. How often do you find people like that! People who genuinely care about your mental health, especially when you are a New Mom.
A mother shared her traumatic experience where her baby rolled off the bed and cried terribly, so the group poured in consolations and solutions. That helped me when my little one had the same accident. When it happened, I immediately tried to recall the emergency hospital contacts, and the room number, and all the directions shared in the group. I posted a query where my son was making weird grunting noises for three days; a fellow mother responded that her little one was doing the same, and she was on her way to the hospital to check. She asked me to send a recording, and she checked with her doctor for me. We both had relief at the same time. She met the doctor immediately, and that helped me.
My tribe gave me calmness and confidence
Just weeks before my son’s birthday, another mother panicked in the group, saying her baby fell down and that the baby’s lips were bleeding, and as usual effective first aid solutions and comforting words were shared in the group. In two days, the same thing happened to me. I ran to the living room and saw my son crying hysterically, and my husband was trying to soothe him. But he didn’t notice the blood in our son’s lips; I did. I immediately grabbed him, picked a clean cloth, ran it in cold water, and gently pressed on my baby’s lips, just as suggested in the group earlier. I did this so calmly and spontaneously. My husband felt guilty because, first of all, he was in the room when our son got hurt, and second of all, he did not notice the blood right away. He was panicked and trembling. And I had myself pulled together to attend to my baby immediately, and I calmed my husband. I said, “it is ok, he is fine, he’s smiling, don’t worry” And that calmness I was able to have and that sympathy that I was able to show towards my husband – I owe that to the group; To the mother who shared her fear and the mothers who shared the remedies.
While most of our family members and friends are advocating about Formula feeding (to a breastfeeding mother) or Breastfeeding (to a formula-feeding mother) and trying to frighten us with their unwanted, juvenile theories, we had a breastfeeding mother who shared her milk for a formula-feeding mother who’s baby had rashes on his body. If that is not Support, I don’t know what else is.
We the amazing mom community
That’s the strength of the group. We have breastfeeding mothers, formula-feeding mothers, baby-led weaning mamas, traditional weaning mamas, working mamas, stay at home mamas, a trophy wife (me), first-time mamas, second-time mamas, mamas who are fantastic painters, speakers, cooks, singers, dancers, fitness mamas, mamas who are confident, mamas who are frightened, the list goes on. As a group, we are diversified and multitalented. Above all, we are compassionate, kind, understanding, encouraging, and we never hesitate to learn or share. Not once had there been anyone speaking condescendingly to anyone else in the group. That is what makes us different from any other group. Omg, I have goosebumps just writing that. We also often brag about ourselves in the group. And I love that. How many times can you say, “wow, I love our group we are amazing” in your life to a group of people that too in WhatsApp whom you have never met in person?
I do not know each and every person’s name. But I know that we are in this big gigantic Motherhood ship together. And I am sure that no matter what trouble comes our way, we will always have a lifeboat ready for anyone going through a tough time. We not only take care of your baby, but we also take care of the mother and the “You” inside the Mother.
I want to end by saying this finally. To every new mom or mom-to-be, reach out, share, talk and mingle. Just a little thought of one lonely mother with her newborn created a network of new moms years ago, and now there are more than 200 of us being benefited by it every day. And she always appreciates the group for making her thoughtful gesture into The most Effective Virtual Support group for all these years. I am not raising my son alone; I have almost 200 other mothers doing it with me. I loved this group so much that I created another group like the same with my school, college, and work friends (mamas) to be helpful to each other in every way possible.
I reached out to a pregnant woman thinking I was going to help her, but she was the one who helped me. She helped me to be a part of this extraordinary Group of Mothers who always Got My back. And since I am a part of this group I know I am extraordinary too.
Minor Editing done by DanceofChaos.