Before my daughter was born I worked full-time, had plenty of friends and a great social life. I was rarely alone - always busy and surrounded by other people. This happy-go-lucky, responsibility-free lifestyle changed in heart beat when my little girl arrived.
The first of my friends to have a baby, I spent my days alone with her while everyone else was at work. By the evening, I was normally completely shattered and far too tired to socialise. I used to log onto Facebook and see what they were all up to (activities that I had as recently as a few weeks ago been a part of) and sob.
The change in lifestyle that becoming a mum triggered was, for me, very difficult to adapt to.
By the time my daughter reached twelve months of age, I was forced to admit to something that I found difficult to acknowledge.
I was lonely.
When I took my lovely baby to soft play or to the park and saw other mums chatting and laughing together, I felt a deep pang of jealousy. I needed to find some mum friends of my own.
Clearly mums weren't going to turn up at my doorstep. I would have to go out and find them. This was a bit of an alien concept for me as most of my existing friendships had come about from school and work. I had never actively looked for friends before.
The whole concept made me feel a bit desperate and needy; it certainly wouldn't be acceptable to approach other mums in the park and whine, 'please will you be my friend?'
I hadn't been to antenatal classes, which seems to be the way that the majority of mums made friends. I had been to a few play groups but everyone seemed to be in their established circles and no one spoke to me. Perhaps if I had more confidence I would have found it easy to breeze into places where mums hang out and chat to everyone - but unfortunately this is not me. Although happy in a group of established friends, I'm quite shy in situations with new people.
In the end I decided to venture from the unknown into a complete abyss - I decided to go on-line.
I found a website with a meet-a-mum board and tentatively wrote a post introducing myself and my daughter before asking if anyone would like to meet up. To be honest, I didn't expect to receive any replies. But there must have been mums in the same boat as me because within hours I had received a couple of replies. Within a week, I had received about thirty messages.
I'll never forget my first 'mum date' with Helena, who lived close by and had a similar aged daughter to me. After sending a few messages, the next step was to actually meet. We arranged a time and place. She would be the one with the bright purple buggy and I would wait for her outside Waterstones at 3pm.
This meeting took me totally out of my comfort zone and I was incredibly nervous. It felt like a blind date. In reality that was exactly what it was. What if we had nothing to talk about? What if she didn't like me?
Luckily, Helena and I hit it off straight away. I'm very fortunate that she was my first 'mum date'. Helena remains a very dear friend to this day.
After Helena, I met twenty or so other mums. Some I connected with immediately and some I didn't gel with at all. As each blind date approached, I felt more at ease and the nerves disappeared. I came out of the 'mum dating' process with five lifelong friends (two who were later bridesmaids at my wedding) and I made more mum friends through them.
About six months after going online, I finally had my very own network of mum friends. My days became filled with play dates, trips to parks, and other kid related activities (not to forget the odd night out too).
Motherhood can be lonely and isolating for some - yet no-one really seems to talk about these issues.
While I was pregnant, I received lots of advice about feeding, routines, weaning, sleep deprivation etc. But no-one mentioned to me the issues that actually affected me the most.
So, I have made it my mission to spread awareness of the loneliness and isolation motherhood can sometimes bring, in the hope that more mums can be prepared for it and know how to overcome it.
Some mums are lucky to already have a strong tribe of mum friends when their baby arrives. But for those who don't (or do but then move to a different area) I would really recommend getting out there and meeting other mums.
It can be hard - especially if, like me, you are shy. However, there's nothing to lose and a lot to gain!