Someone recently commented to me that every pregnancy is different. True. I have to add to that that every situation after the birth is different, too.
I was worried that I was going to feel really depressed after Andrew was born because of how I felt after William was born. I didn't write much about it on this blog, but that was a really hard time for me. As it turns out, I'm enjoying this post-partum experience a lot more than I did when William was a new baby.
When William was born, we were living in California, in a tiny little town, and we were very isolated. We didn't have any family around, and my friends from work lived at least an hour away and couldn't just drop by and say hello. We didn't really have close friends who lived in town, either. So it was just David and me. Once David returned to work, it was just me and this tiny little baby alone together. And I was unsure of myself as a parent, and I was so lonely. There was really nowhere for us to go, and there was nothing for us to do. I tried valiantly to manufacture things for us to do, just to get myself out of the house and in contact with other people, but it was hard. I just felt so alone. I went from working 50 or 60 hours a week at the newspaper to hanging out in my small house with this tiny person who didn't talk. It was like slamming on the brakes, and that alone would have been a major adjustment. The loneliness made it that much worse, though. We didn't have a church there, so we didn't have people coming by to visit, or the pastor coming by to call, or ladies bringing us casseroles. We got by, in those early weeks, on Stouffers' frozen stirfry (I think...I've blocked a lot of it out, and David's not enirely sure now, either) and Papa John's pizza. It was just us and William. All the time.
Eventually I did make some friends through the breastfeeding support group at the military hospital, and that was really my saving grace. Friends like Jennifer and Beth joined my life later on that year, and suddenly my situation vastly improved. I still lived in a tiny little desolated town, but at least I had really nice people to eat lunch with or hang out with at the park at last. And that was fun. But until I made those friends, it was a very hard time for me.
This time, it was so different.
When I was in labor at the hospital, I had people checking in with me via email and Facebook. But I even had a friend, Patrice, actually drop by my hospital room to say hello and to bring me an armload of magazines. The day after Andrew was born, another friend, Cyndee, dropped by to bring me a giant cherry limeade from Sonic on the way to take her daughter to school. My pastor Guy came by to visit and have a prayer with us. My husband's office sent flowers. My mother-in-law Diane came by, with William in tow. My friend Mary Clare came to see us (despite being 38 weeks pregnant herself). Kathleen came by after work. Dad came to spend a few hours with us and arrived with a bag of gifts for William, Andrew and me. The next day, Shab, Jennifer, and Jerri all came to visit, and so did Mark and Jen. Another pastor came by to see us. Every time I turned around, someone was stopping by to give us hugs and to coo over Andrew. We got phone calls. We got emails. The church choir sent flowers to our house. People left us messages. Some of the women from church banded together and bought me a special gift through our children's school auction.
Then, when we arrived home from the hospital, the March of the Church Ladies began. Our friend Fran came by the next afternoon with dinner for our whole family. I think David nearly cried in gratitude over the first hot meal he'd eaten in weeks--I, er, didn't do a lot of cooking those last couple of months of my pregnancy, and I guess the constant PBJs got a little old. And every few days for the next five weeks, someone arrived with a meal for us. Rather than trying to hobble around my kitchen to put together something to eat, all I had to do was stick whatever arrived in the oven or microwave. And presto, a delicious meal. And lots of brownies, too. I could have written poetry about how great it was to have someone make food for us.
I was overwhelmed with people's generosity. Still am, in fact. I told my Bible study class that I'd never felt so cared for in my entire life. I didn't feel alone. I felt surrounded by people who cared about us and our family, and it was such an amazing gift. Especially in contrast with what I felt the last time around. When I think about it, this sense of gratitude just wells up inside me. And I keep fervently thinking, "Thank you. Thank you."
So yeah, I'm tired. I wish that I was getting more sleep. But every time the exhaustion threatens to wipe me out, I do have to step back and remember just how good I've had it this time. Because I have. And I am so lucky.
And I'm really really lucky for these: