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Proud to be a Wired Mom

Laura James


Nursing my morning OJ - or, even better, on a rare occasion, a steamy Latte treat -- I find myself Laughing Out Loud with a handful of my girlfriends. Sharing stories of aching or leaking breasts, bulging bellies, and/or scathing sciatica we find particular things we have in common with each other, bonding us together in the way Expectant Moms bond sharing our dreams, obsessions, quirky thoughts and even bone-penetrating fears for our future children.

We are a group of "wired" moms, brought together thanks to the magic of the Internet! We met on a popular parenting web site on what's called a bulletin board - a place for socializing with other people with whom you share a common thread. Our common thread was that we were all in the same stage of pregnancy, expecting babies in November of '98.

How it works is simple - you first "register" with the web site and create a username (your nickname) for yourself, then you post questions (or start what's referred to as a "thread") and anyone who is looking at the bulletin board can see your post and respond to it. Everyone can see everyone else's responses, and believe me, this can get very interesting!

When we were freshly pregnant, our threads often started off with quirky questions as "What will you name your baby?" or "Attn Experienced Moms: What does this pregnancy symptom mean?" or "Are you going to find out if it's a boy or a girl?"

Day by day we became more and more comfortable with each other and as is typical for young 20-and 30-something pregnant women, pretty darn chatty. With the help of a few organized individuals via e-mail, we assigned each other "Parent Pals" - or Secret Buddies - and each active member of the board had one. Depending on the Parent Pal, we could look forward to receiving fun cards, gifts and treats via snail mail.

As our pregnancies progressed, most of us began logging on to the bulletin board every day, some of us from work, some of us from home, the hardcore addicts got on at work and then again, later, from home! All of us got hooked FAST and those of us who snuck bulletin board time from work really learned to take advantage of Windows' handy dandy multitasking features!

The great thing about our little group of about 30 Moms is that we all share and benefit (and let's face it, sometimes even poke fun of) each others diverse lives and backgrounds - a sales rep for a major skin care company, based in an exotic, tropical locale checks in often, even when she's traveling on one of her many vacations and business trips; stay-at-home and working Moms in fantastic places such as Australia, England, and Canada; as well as Moms with real estate licenses and law degrees, marketing professionals and those with early education backgrounds, all working in the home and/or offices scattered around every region of the good ole USA.

Waiting for November of 1998 to approach seemed like a lifetime, but of course, it finally came. One by one each member of the bulletin board would disappear shortly then reappear a few days later with fantastic and frankly sometimes horrifying birth stories. As we still hugely-pregnant mamas gobbled up these stories, each new mom would "prepare" us with once-unfamiliar words such as dilation, effacement, epidural, and the big, scary granddaddy of them all, sending shivers down our backs as we'd read about it - episiotomy! Eek!

November came and went and eventually (if we weren't already) we were all real, live functioning Moms, and darned if we weren't checking in with each other on the boards just as much or more then we did when we were pregnant! Most of us created web sites for our babies and families and many of us continue to share pictures with each other this way.

By this time, we knew we had something special. As our November babies approached their first birthdays we organized a Cyber Birthday Party. Again, we were paired up with a Secret Birthday Buddy via email and the week before each child's birthday, we all got to receive a special surprise from our Cyber Buddy. We were quick to agree that it added a whole new, 21st century dimension to our kids' birthdays!

Sharing pregnancy, labor, birth and new Momhood together for well over a year made us antsy to actually meet in person. When our kiddos were about 18 months old, we organized a meet in Dallas, which we pegged for a good, central location for the people that were able to participate. About 20 of us from as far as New York, Alabama, the Midwestern states, California and even Canada flew in to spend a weekend together at a hotel in Dallas, do some sightseeing and finish with a big Gymboree blowout.

Amidst all the diapers and pacies and sippie cups, some understandable toddler crankiness, lots of airborne food and drink and a couple of brave husbands tagging along, we managed to have a great time, cementing our friendship bond further.

Now that we're approaching another year, after celebrating a few more successive pregnancies and babies; suffering with each other through painful losses of pets or close friends and relatives, shocking health revelations; and news of new friends, new homes and new jobs, our once-teetering November 98 toddlers are currently peaking atop the mountainous curve that is the Terrible Twos and you guessed it, we Moms are still logging on to our faithful bulletin board every day - yes sometimes several times a day - and still gossiping and chatting and asking quirky questions. Only instead of "what are your cravings today?" the questions now are more along the lines of "in what way did you hide veggies so your toddler will eat them?"

Party Anyone?

Laura James is currently a stay-at-home mom of two year old son, Sam and wife to husband, Ronnie. With six years professional experience in the visual arts and marketing fields, she has recently embarked on a new, part-time career painting murals in children's rooms and for childrens' organizations

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