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Las Vegas groups unite strangers with similar circumstances

For Christie Licea, the combination of postpartum depression and a lifestyle change from working a full-time job to staying at home with her newborn led to weeks of crying and loneliness, until she found the Facebook group called Las Vegas Stay At Home Moms.

The growing group, with about 1,500 members, is for stay-at-home mothers to share information on family events around town, exchange pediatrician recommendations and schedule play dates. About 150 members have joined in the past month.

Licea lives on the east side of Las Vegas and organizes play dates, coffee meet-ups, lunch and shopping get-togethers in Henderson, the southwest valley, the Summerlin area and occasionally North Las Vegas.

She became a co-administrator of the Facebook group four months ago, when her son Lorenzo was 3 months old. She said it provided an outlet where she could talk about her struggles with postpartum depression — an affliction with symptoms including anxiety, exhaustion and anger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Being a stay-at-home mom is a blessing and a curse,” Licea said. “No one talks to you about postpartum depression. I suffered really bad from it, and even now I struggle with it. Being in the mom group and being around women with the same issues helps a lot.”

Las Vegas Stay At Home Moms is one of an ever-increasing number of meetup.com and Facebook groups popping up throughout the valley to bring people with similar interests together. Henderson alone has hundreds of Facebook groups, including a yard sale group with over 7,000 members, a hiking group with over 5,000 members and a community gardening group with over 2,000 members.

Any user can join public Facebook groups, while a group administrator must approve a user’s request to join a closed group. Las Vegas Stay At Home Moms is a closed group. Meetup.com is a collection of themed groups that schedule in-person meetups. Henderson meetups include Henderson Watching Movies Meetup and Henderson Writers Group. Any meetup user can request to join a group.

Licea said she had a banking career before deciding to stay home with Lorenzo, and the transition took a toll.

The other group administrator, Alexandra Mason, of northwest Las Vegas, had her first child at 32 and found most of her friends already had older children.

Mason joined the group in 2017 after having her second child, Jake, and realizing she had to “get out of the house.” The group had 200 members at the time.

“I thought, I have to meet mom friends and my kids need friends their age,” Mason said.

Licea said the same thing and recalled how she had an older brother growing up, but didn’t have any friends her age. She wants her son to have such friends.

Mason said it is no fun to go to the park in the middle of the day, alone.

The group holds get-togethers throughout the valley because Mason said she found mothers didn’t want to drive across town for a play date.

The group held a play date at Spotted Leaf Park in Downtown Summerlin on Jan. 10. It was the first group gathering for Ashley Lasater and her son, Milo. The group was made up of mothers throughout Summerlin and northwest.

“My child is a monster and can’t stay in the house all day long; my child needs an outlet,” Lasater said.

Lasater said she takes Milo, 1, to the park every day, but “It is nice to have not-babies to talk to.”

Lasater and three other mothers at Spotted Leaf Park had recently moved to Las Vegas.

Carmen Campbell moved from Utah in 2017 and said she didn’t know anyone in town.

“Most of our new members (are) people who have moved here,” Mason said.

Mason also administers a Facebook group called Parents of Las Vegas and Henderson. That group is mainly social and informational and does not hold as many meetups.

Contact Rachel Spacek at 702-387-2921 or rspacek@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RachelSpacek on Twitter.

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