Sometimes you just want to be around people who "get it."
As soon as I learned that the baby I was carrying was facing the challenges of a congenital heart defect, I looked high and low for resources. I didn't care about heart diagrams or statistics as much as I cared about what other parents, who had been where I am, had to say about their own journeys.
I read story after story after story.
In my attempt to learn more, I found the organization Mended Little Hearts. I am so glad that I did.
Each month we go to the meeting. There is childcare provided, dinner, and company. Nothing has helped me more than watching these kids, who were born with similar defects to Max, jump up and happily trot off to the playroom. "Healthy."
Sharing stories without extra explanation of the terms we use, gathering information about the local surgeons and what to expect. It has all been so incredibly comforting and helpful.
At our last meeting, the focus of the meeting was on the caregiver. Finding time for ourselves and recognizing when we might need a little bit of help.
I realized that most people want to help. Not out of duty or obligation, but because, like me, they look for the things they can do instead of dwelling on what they can't change. It helps.
The texts and emails keep coming.
"Let me know if you need anything!" and I know that they mean it, but I don't know what exactly to ask for.
I haven't been here before and I don't know how long it will be until we are facing surgery. I don't really know what I am doing here, but I'm here.
I know I will need childcare and I have asked for it, and the wish has been granted.
What I am most amazed by, are the things I haven't asked for. Somehow, the fairy godmothers in my life have a way of knowing exactly what I need and when.
A girls night. One where I am with the ladies that just "get me" and we all vent until I have tears in my eyes before I realize that I can count on one hand the amount of times I have actually felt sorry enough for myself to cry. I needed that. I needed it SO bad.
The incredible friend who added me to her cell phone plan when my own phone got shut off. The most amazing friend who has continually loved, given, and been there for me when no one else was since 6th grade.
The amazing mamas that evolved from high school acquaintances to a facebook community I can relate to and women I have grown to love. Women who when I put out the call for a used baby carrier, had a brand new ergo and moby on my doorstep within two days.
Aside from the generous gift it was, it was pure relief to me. The anxiety of wondering how on earth I could juggle two kids alone was consuming me. I tried one of the carriers on and the weight lifted. I knew I could do it and for the first time this entire pregnancy, I finally felt "ready."
The friends from Montana who sent me the gift of nostalgia when a giant box of Eldon's old baby clothes I had given them arrived via UPS. 52 pounds worth. Eldon loved hearing the stories of how he once fit in the clothes. We sorted through all of them together, a team. Preparing for team member #3.
I am sporting a maternity wardrobe from a generous mama in our new playgroup. Lucky for me, she has some good taste.
I have a changing table on the way, thanks to a mama in our old playgroup.
The Aunts who offered to throw baby showers. The friends that came, bearing amazing gifts for Max, myself, and even Eldon. Starbucks cards for those late sleepless nights. A Barnes and Noble gift card for the days we will eventually be spending at the hospital.
The "Papa" that took Eldon to every kid friendly place in Tacoma that day so I could spend the day celebrating with grown ups.
My parents who...well, what haven't they done for us?
These people are teaching me how to be a better person, and inspiring me to be a better friend.
I am learning how to help, when the call is vague or even absent.
These gifts are so much more than that and I am so grateful for this lesson I am learning in thoughtfulness and generosity.
Once again, thank you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.