I was standing at the kitchen sink a few days ago, washing dishes for the 5th time that day and I thought, "Phew, I think I've finally got this back under control." And then I realized my youngest had just made 11 months. 11 months, really?! I was shocked it took me so long to feel healthy again. It has seemed that with each birth it has taken me longer to get back into a comfortable routine.
It was about 3 months after my oldest that I felt better. For me, adjusting to motherhood was not easy. Then after the twins hit 6 months I remember thinking that I finally had this whole mothering thing somewhat under control again. So why in the world did it take so long this time around? I think just due to the fact that we have so many little ones. Four kids in three years would take quite a bit of time for anyone to adjust I think.
Then, I started to think about the people in my life. The ones who have ridden this journey with me. Besides my family there have been very few friends who have stuck by my side the whole 4 crazy years. After every birth I lost friends. I lost the most after my first was born. People who weren't married and didn't have kids. People who's life styles no longer jived with my new life. That's understandable. It happens. Then after the twins I lost a few because I just couldn't put the effort into making it work. For those first few months I couldn't make phone calls, I couldn't get the kids in the car for play dates. I was just trying to survive, play dates were so far off my radar. Then, after the fourth, I lost even more friends. I think again, because I was in survival mode for so long this time around. When you spend all day trying to fight the baby blues and catch your breath, you can't possibly fill up others love tanks.
I heard a saying once that stuck with me:
"What ever is in your hands is what you get to do."
For so long all that was in my hands was diapers and nipple cream and laundry and dishes and kissing booboos (not to mention nurturing my relationship with my husband). I couldn't possibly add anything more to my plate. And in fact, I even had to cut some things I loved out.
Some of the friendships I lost along the way were okay with me. I understand that not all relationships are to last forever. But some have really hurt. Some I have cried over. I know along the way I have made others feel sad as well, not meaning to of course.
So here is my advice.
Do you know a new mom? Do you want to keep your friendship with her?
Call her. And when she doesn't pick up, leave her a message. And when she doesn't call you back, call her again. And when she doesn't pick up that time either, leave another message. Do this until she calls you back. Don't take it personally that she hasn't called you back. She is just trying to survive. She is just trying to breath. When she can finally catch her breath she will call you! And she will be so grateful you are still around!
Take her a meal. Don't ask, "Can I bring you a meal?" Say, "I'll be making you a meal Wednesday. I will drop it on your door step Thursday afternoon." If you ask, she will most likely say she doesn't need it or that she doesn't want to put you out. Don't expect to come in and see the baby or visit. But if you do get to come in, do some laundry or fold some cloths. Send her to bed or the shower. Hold her baby or wash up the dishes. Take her older kids out to play so she can relax for a few precious minutes. Any small act is huge to a new mom who is so under water that she can not see light.
Send her a card. One of my most favorite gifts I got after my fourth baby came was a stack of cards. When I asked what they were for, she said, "For those days. You know, those days." I loved opening a card every few days. You know, the days I felt so alone, but couldn't get a moment to myself. I loved reading what was written in them! I am sad to say that I don't think she realized how precious a gift it was to me. So, even if she doesn't thank you, know that any small gift was appreciated!
Stick with her. Don't give up on her. Even if she is an experienced mom and she should totally have it all under control. She may not. She might be like me and it may take her longer to get her life back in order after each birth.
"What ever is in your hands is what you get to do." I am excited to be able to look up from the diapers and breath and feel well enough to try to fill up other peoples love tanks again!