Friends Sarah Robinson, Hannah Hudson, and Natalie Ralston were each other’s lifelines when they each welcomed babies in 2015. In fact, Hudson tells Babble that the three of them relied on group texts with each other to share their relatable parenting highs and lows. But after many a late night text session, the friends realized there were no emoji out there to adequately convey the hard, hilarious, and complex reality of motherhood.
So, the three clever working moms created their own with an app they named EmojiMom.
The iOS keyboard, which officially launched in July 2016, now consists of every pregnancy and parenting image you could possibly imagine. From mesh underwear and a mom attempting to blow-dry her hair while her baby wails, to a dad practicing skin-to-skin contact, the creators of EmojiMom seem to have thought of it all — but they’re not finished yet.
“The app currently has over 400 emoji,” co-founder Hannah Hudson tells Babble. “We’ve added toddler emoji, holiday emoji, and mom life emoji since we first launched.” Going forward, “we would love to do emoji for moms of older kids — school age and tweens/teens. …we’ve also had lots of requests for bald dads, and red-headed moms and babies.”
Not only does this brilliant app capture situations that are all too familiar to parents, it artfully demonstrates the nuances of parenthood with detailed facial expressions that capture the endless range of emotions we feel — often all at once. The app also covers sensitive material that can feel taboo or too painful to talk about, like infertility.
“Among the three co-founders and our circle of mom friends, we’ve definitely experienced some big challenges on the road to becoming moms,” says Hudson. “So it was important for us to include infertility and adoption icons and to be as representative as we can about the different journeys we take to motherhood.”
The Emoji Moms depict the ups and downs of these various avenues and struggles with emoji options illustrating in vitro fertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IUI), pee on a stick (POAS), and even emoji for “pee in a cup,” “shot in the butt,” and the simple, yet meaningful, “I’m sorry.”
The response to EmojiMom has been “overwhelming in the best way,” Hudson tells Babble. “But the response to these [infertility-related] emoji in particular has been really powerful.”
“We weren’t sure that some of these experiences could really be ‘summed up’ with an emoji since there can be so much emotion/struggle involved, but we’ve found that people actually appreciate the emoji in situations where words don’t really suffice,” she says.
As a mom and mental health counselor, Hudson is speaking my language. Connection is the key to coping with loss or making it through tough times. We all need to feel heard and our grief needs release. But words don’t often come easily when it comes to our personal struggles. Many of us rely on other modes of communication to express ourselves.
The creators of EmojiMom have provided such an outlet, helping moms, moms-to-be, and women who are hopeful to become mothers to feel less alone and more understood. The co-founders plan to expand on this theme by adding pregnancy loss emoji and rainbow baby emoji. “We continue to brainstorm all the time,” Hudson says.
Her favorite part of the process by far has been “connecting with moms from all over the world and realizing that the experiences we share truly are universal.”