Rain came down sideways on a Tuesday morning as a group of new moms bounced babies on their laps inside a Fairfield dance studio.
This is one of the few indoor meetings the Monarch Mums group has had since the COVID-19 pandemic started, and only six women came, each physically distanced on colourful baby blankets in a large circle.
Over the babble of curious youngsters and rattling toys, the women shared their highs and lows of the week. From sleeping problems, prams, toys and puppies to hair loss, in-laws, postpartum depression and career jealousy – one woman shared her struggle to finish a manuscript and her resentment of her husband’s full-time work schedule – the group was vulnerable and open with one another.
One mom shared the ‘high’ that she finally told her husband of her postpartum depression. Another piped in how she was scared if people knew, they would take her baby away.
While 10-month-old Iain bounced on her hip, organizer Emily Harris, explained how the group has helped the new moms navigate an exceptionally difficult transition.
“Just being able to find that community of people in that same situation I think is vital to maintaining your own mental health,” she said.
“Everybody is so desperate for that connection. I can speak for myself that I just felt so lonely, like March [and] April were horrible. Those were the longest months of my life.”
|(From left to right) Melissa Mouat and 12-week-old daughter Rosie and Roxanna Mohtadi and five-month-old daughter Melody discuss the joys and hardships of new motherhood during a pandemic at the weekly Monarch Moms meet-up. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|
The weekly meetings were born of a Facebook group.
“A lot of the talk going around in this online group was, ‘I feel so lonely, I really want to meet with people.’ I just sort of threw it out there if anyone would be interested,” Harris said.
The first meeting was at Hollywood Park and drew 18 moms and babies from across Greater Victoria. It was a physically-distanced success, Harris said. Since then the group has met at various parks every Monday morning.
Many members already had other children, but all of the moms had a baby in 2020 – except Harris, whose son was born on Christmas Day, 2019.
“The transition for a first-time baby is like jumping off a cliff,” Harris said. “Doing that during a pandemic is something else.”
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|Stephanie Anderson and her eight-month-old daughter Eva enjoy physical-distanced connections with other new moms at the weekly Monarch Moms meet-up group. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)|