I first discovered online communities about 13 years ago looking for answers after suffering 4 miscarriages. In the infertility groups on usenet I found a community of women who were in the same situation. Because, sadly, miscarriage and infertility isn't something that's often talked in "real life" I found the needed support online.
When I became pregnant with my daughter I joined a "due date list", May '96 to be exact. May '96 is a group of, mostly women, who were due with babies in May 1996. They are still a part of my life today, more than 11 years later. Checking email is a part of my routine, and these women have become a part of my life. With this group, and the Oct '98 moms, I've shared the challenges and joys of being a mom. It's become common in our house when faced with a dilemma to "Ask the May Moms." When talking to real life friends I'll often say "I have a friend who..." and the friend is a May or Oct mom who's experienced something similar.
When Nicky was born friends from my list sent gifts and even chipped in to hire a personal chef to provide meals for my family. When another mom was diagnosed with breast cancer we made a quilt. When a mom was displaced because of Katrina we sent gift cards, clothing, & toys. When a husband committed suicide we sent flowers & gifts. When a mom died due to pregnancy we mourned together. We've weathered all the things "real life" friends do.
Sadly, I hadn't found that for Nicky. I joined a due date list but when he was born I unsubbed without ever telling why. I tried a few existing lists and found some support but in one case the parents on that list mostly had older kids and another there was just too much arguing and flaming. But, I'm starting to find it through the bloggers I read. There are a number out there with kids close to Nicky's age. Or their kids are younger, but the parents are experiencing many of the things I have.
Anyway, thanks to all you bloggers out there!