I was on the heels of my second failed in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle when my three closest friends all announced their pregnancies, within a few weeks of each other.

I was crushed.

It not only hurt to see everyone getting what I so desperately wanted, but also because I suddenly saw the future flashing before my eyes: my friends all raising their kids together and me getting left behind. It broke my heart to think about.

Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for my friends. Two of them had struggled with infertility themselves. But I was also so very sad for myself, both mourning my empty womb and feeling completely isolated.

When their babies were born, that shifted somewhat. It was hard to feel sad for myself with squishy little ones around to cuddle and love. And to my friends’ credit, they never left me behind. I was invited to every playdate and mom dinner out, and welcomed warmly with open arms when I was able to come. I also felt totally respected and loved when I had to hang back and have a woe is me infertility moment.

I have really good friends.

Still, I grieved the fact that I wouldn’t be able to raise my babies alongside those friends. By that point, I had come to the conclusion that adoption would be the path to parenthood for me. I assumed most of my friends’ children would be in grade school by the time I finally became a mother myself.

Only, life had other plans. And just nine months after that first baby was born, a surprise series of events led to my being asked to take a newborn baby girl.

I became a mother pretty much overnight, and my amazing friends rushed to my house with all their hand-me-downs to help make sure I was equipped for this new little bundle that was all mine to love.

By the time my little girl was maybe 1 1/2 years old, the age difference between our kids didn’t seem like that much anymore. And today, they all play together happily, citing one another as their very best friends.

I love it. I love watching our kids grow up alongside each other. And I love that I have this amazing group of mom friends to rely on and call my own. Some days, I honestly don’t know how I would do it without them.

Which brings me to the top five reasons you need to get your own set of mom friends.

hand me down

Listen, whether you are the giver or the receiver, hand-me-downs are awesome. Kids grow out of clothes so fast. In the baby years, they may not even get a chance to wear everything you have for them before they’re onto the next size.

Spending loads of money on clothes that will get so little use is just silly. And good mom friends know this. That’s why they save all their best hand-me-downs for you, and gladly accept your hand-me-downs when they add another little one to their family. It’s a very symbiotic relationship where no one has to keep the excess clutter around their home just in case they have another baby.

It’s great to have a partner you can problem-solve child rearing issues with. But men don’t usually think like moms, and they certainly don’t problem-solve like moms. When we hash out a problem, we want to look at it from every angle and get a few different opinions on how to proceed. Your mom friends are great for that, especially if you provide the wine.

Sometimes you have a really great mom moment, where you know the discipline you just handed out was perfect, or the speech you just gave totally got the point across. But you can’t exactly brag about that to your kids, because they’re currently pissed at you. And your partner is mostly unimpressed because they are used to your brilliance already. But your mom friends? They will totally high-five you for a job well done.

Then there are the times when you just need to vent. About your kid, or your job, or your spouse, or how hard motherhood is turning out to be. You don’t need someone to solve the problem. Most of the time it isn’t a problem that can be solved. You just want to let it all out, and your mom friends are there.

Most importantly, your mom friends are the ones who are probably most capable of reminding you of who you were before motherhood. They’ll call you on it if you let that woman slip too far away. I know this is something my own mom friends have been great about. And it’s so important, because it’s so easy to get lost in motherhood and to forget who we are beyond that.

Mom friends are great to have playdates with: The kids are happy and entertained, and you get some adult interaction. But they are so much more than that. They’re your random Thursday girls’ night, your even more rare girls’ weekend getaway, and your lifeline on the other end of the phone when it all gets to be a little too much. They are the friends who understand if your house isn’t perfectly clean, and who aren’t mad if they don’t hear from you for weeks at a time.

They understand. They get it. Because they’re in the middle of this motherhood mess themselves. And they are just as grateful for your friendship as you are for theirs.