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The One Thing That Saved Me During the Hardest Parts of Motherhood

Photograph by Twenty20

You want to know the truth? Most days, I hate the internet.

I scroll through my Facebook feed and I see friends fighting over politics. I see trolls saying the meanest things they can possibly think to say to total strangers. I see family members uncomfortably airing their dirty laundry for all to see. And I see stories of children being abused, people in positions of power doing horrible things and natural disasters taking lives left and right.

The things I find online often break my heart in two. But despite appearances, the internet isn't always just doom and gloom. Sometimes a whole lot of good comes from it. And I should know.

I have never felt as alone in my life as I did when I was first diagnosed as infertile at the age of 26. All my friends were happily procreating, and there I was, unsure if I would ever get to be a mother at all. At one point, my three best friends were all pregnant at the same time, less than a year after my second failed IVF cycle. They loved me, and they wanted to be there for me—but I couldn’t talk to them about what I was feeling.

So, I started looking online. And, in doing so, I discovered this whole world of other women going through exactly what I was going through. I made connections to women who understood me. I found people to vent to who actually got it. And I stopped feeling so incredibly alone.

Years later, I became a single mother by choice through adoption. It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. But it was also isolating. I work from home, my daughter is always with me and I spend more time talking to her than I do to really any other adults I know.

The internet is often my outlet. It connects me to friends I don’t get to see as often as I would like. It gives us a window into each other’s lives. It allows us to maintain those friendships in these hectic years of early motherhood when generations before us simply had to let certain connections go.

I learned things in those groups that her doctors hadn’t even thought to mention. I had questions answered and fears calmed. I found camaraderie.

In addition to that, with a few clicks I can easily find any resource about adoption I might ever hope to have. As my daughter grows older and begins to process what being adopted means to her, I have immediate access to a diverse adoption community functioning online, answering each other’s questions and serving as a support system whenever issues come up.

In our real life, I don’t know anyone else who has adopted. So, having those connections online? It means everything.

Recently, my daughter was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). Before the official diagnosis, leukemia, MS and brain tumors had all been thrown out as possible causes for her symptoms. So, when I heard "arthritis," I was actually relieved. Then I learned what that diagnosis would mean for her future.

JIA is more than just pain. My daughter’s immune system is basically attacking her from the inside out. Children are crippled by this disease. There is a possibility she could even lose her eyesight because of it. And she’s currently on five different medications, which includes a weekly shot of a chemo drug that I have to give her myself.

To say I was overwhelmed by all I learned initially about this disease would be an understatement. But then I discovered closed Facebook groups specifically for parents of children with JIA. Suddenly, this whole world opened up.

I learned things in those groups that her doctors hadn’t even thought to mention. I had questions answered and fears calmed. I found camaraderie. And, again, I knew I wasn’t alone in this season of motherhood that has been so hard and scary.

So, yeah, the internet is evil and, most days, I hate it. But I also know that more than once, it’s saved me in my motherhood journey.

From those sleepless nights when all I had was my phone to keep me company as I soothed a crying baby, to those moments of panic when I was left searching Google for answers on whether or not to take my daughter to the hospital—the internet has been an invaluable resource in motherhood that I honestly don’t think I would ever want to parent without.

I mean, obviously our parents did it. And we all (mostly) survived. But when I think about where I tend to turn most when parenting gets hard, I’ve got to admit: I’m truly thankful for the ability to get online.

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