Mamas Facing Forward – A Community to Help Mamas Facing Chronic Illnesses Move Forward
I’m only four years into my experience as a mom, but even in that short amount of time I can make this statement with complete authority: being a mom is hard. Lack of sleep. Endless diaper changes. Seemingly infinite requests for my attention. Packing lunches. Trying to get the toddler to eat something other than cheese and carbs. Breaking up squabbles between siblings. Kissing boo boos. Reading “Little Blue Truck” for the six hundred billionth time (I am fairly certain I could recite that book from memory at this point!)
Motherhood requires a bottomless pit of patience. And, despite the fact that you often don’t even get to pee alone, it can sometimes feel really lonely and isolating. That’s one of the reasons I am so grateful to have friends who are also moms. It can be invaluable to just sit with them, share our struggles, brainstorm solutions, and commiserate about the parts of motherhood that are particularly challenging. There are also a lot of great publications and support groups online that focus on motherhood – providing resources and uplifting articles to help moms feel like they’re doing a good job.
But, at least in my experience, there’s one thing missing from my interactions with my mom friends and online resources: none of them help me figure out how to address the very unique challenges of being a mom with a chronic illness. My friends weren’t able to relate or provide advice when my hands hurt too much to change a diaper or when I had to make the difficult decision to stop breastfeeding for the sake of my own health. And I couldn’t find much support online either.
I felt the same way when I was first trying to get pregnant. There were lots of resources offering support and advice for women who wanted to become mothers, but I had to order a book all the way from Australia to find even one uplifting story about women who had successfully gotten pregnant and managed motherhood with RA. In the hopes that women in the future wouldn’t have to feel as alone and unsupported as I did, I started writing the RA Pregnancy Chronicles to share my story.
So when I realized that there seemed to be no resources out there addressing the unique challenges of motherhood with a chronic illness, I decided to start one of my own. While I have plans for a website someday, Mamas Facing Forward is currently a private Facebook group that strives to provide resources, community, and support for moms who are facing chronic illnesses. We want to help each other embrace the challenges we face and learn to find strength from them. We want to support and encourage each other as we brainstorm ways to keep facing forward – for our children and for ourselves.
Currently, many of the moms in the group are living with rheumatoid arthritis, as that is the condition I have personal experience with. However, the group is open to moms (and moms-to-be) living with any chronic illness - and there are already a few mamas in the group living with conditions like IBS, Crohn's, HepC, and MS. Ultimately we hope to be able to support and connect mamas living with a wide range of chronic illnesses. Because, even if our diagnoses aren't exactly the same, there are still a lot of ways we can understand and support one another.
If you are interested in joining Mamas Facing Forward – or know someone who might be – you can request to join here. When you do, you will get a private message from me letting you know that the only requirement to remain a member of the group is to make sure you read and actively comment agree on our Terms and Conditions. (You may have to check your “Message Requests” folder to see this message from me!) This requirement is an important part of protecting the privacy of our members and making sure that the group remains forward facing as we continue to grow.
Once you agree to our Terms and Conditions, you are welcome to make use of the group in whatever way is most useful to you! If you are struggling to manage some aspect of motherhood and chronic illness, you can post a question on our wall or request advice from our community. If you need a safe place to vent, commiserate, or get something off your chest to people who understand what you are going through, you can do so on our weekly vent thread. Find inspiration on Motivation Monday, share advice on Tip Tuesday, laugh with us on Whimsical Wednesday, cherish memories on Throwback Thursday, and check in on your exercise goals on Fitness Friday. Come contribute to a community that helps mamas facing chronic illnesses move forward!
On a scale of 1(low) to 5(high), how difficult is it for you to talk about having RA?