Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Emily Harris (centre) started the in-person Monarch Moms meet-up groups in July, when it was much easier to physical distance in outdoor spaces. Harris started the group as a source of connection for women navigating the ups and downs of having a baby during a pandemic. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria new mom group navigates challenges of motherhood in a pandemic

Monarch Moms meet once a week for physically-distanced connection

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.”

READ ALSO: Pregnant in a pandemic: expectant mothers change birth plans due to COVID-19

(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.”

Harris lamented the maternity leave she had envisioned for herself and her newborn – one that included art and music classes, family visits and time with friends.

“We are all there in some way. We may not necessarily be struggling with the same things but we all struggle. The beauty of being a part of this group is that some people are further along in their mental health journey and can be a source of support,” she said. “Honestly, sometimes you just need somebody to listen.”

Harris said winter weather might create hurdles for the group.

“One of the things that’s been a stressor for us is, where do we stand with our babies and COVID? And a lot of moms have a lot of anxiety about moving indoors. Which makes total sense,” she said. “Our next challenge is to find a place that’s covered and dry with that outdoor component.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Sooke mom faces ‘pandemic police’ for bringing kids to the grocery store

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)


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusGreater VictoriaVictoria

Just Posted

Search and rescue crews from all over Vancouver Island responded to calls to assist with the search for a 19 year-old man with medical issues who got lost on trails in the south end of Duncan on Nov. 21. The man was found Sunday morning and taken to hospital for assessment. (Submitted photo)
Duncan man rescued after getting lost on local trails

19-year-old taken to hospital for assessment

New estimated figures from Elections BC peg the number of registered voters in 2020 at 54.4 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
2020 provincial election sets historical low turnout

Just over 1.9 million registered voters cast ballots in 2020

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

A sign outside Ucluelet’s Blue Room on Monday morning advises patrons that the restaurant has gone back to take-out only. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Some Ucluelet restaurants heading back to take-out only as COVID-19 concerns rise

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel urges residents to be respectul of business owners’ decisions.

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation announces lockdown after member tests positive for COVID-19

Essential travel only and restricted to Tofino and Ucluelet.

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Cumberland resident Lorna Clark says she's going to treat herself to a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, after winning $50,000 on a Bingo Blast scratch ticket. Photo supplied
Cumberland lottery winner says first purchase will be a roast beef dinner

Meanwhile, Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Capital Regional District Animal Control say an eight-month-old Rottweiler bit a Langford mother and her child near Glen Lake on Nov. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Large dog menaces mother and child in Langford

Mother puts three-year-old on top of car to protect him when friendly encounter turns scary

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

(Village of Sayward)
Sayward elects new mayor and two council members

New mayor-elect Mark Baker to end 2020’s revolving door in North Island village

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

The first phase of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit when it was under construction. The Municipality of North Cowichan denied the VIMC a development permit for phase two of the project. That decision was quashed by the courts. (File photo)
North Cowichan to appeal court’s decision to quash Motorsport expansion denial

Municipality has until Dec. 6 to file appeal to recent court ruling

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Most Read