Friday, August 9, 2013

The beginning...

This is me in September 2006 holding my one-week-old baby. I am smiling in the picture, but I remember exactly how I felt. I was more than in love with my precious bundle of joy, but I was a complete wreck inside.

For a good 3 weeks (before I went to the doctor wondering how I could keep functioning while feeling so sad, so anxious, so irritable, so on the verge of complete meltdown any second, etc.), I remember wondering how it was possible that the world was continuing on around me.

Fortunately, I have not had such postpartum depression symptoms since then as I have received progesterone shots after each subsequent birth (and for 6 weeks after). They are life-saving to me in the postpartum phase! I can function while feeling relatively (as much as possible with a newborn!) normal.

Anyway, during that first week of being a mom, I desperately wanted friends! We had moved to Harrisburg from the Washington, D.C. area the previous year, but I had spent the entire year working a number of odd jobs (mainly substitute teaching, but also doing some temp work and taking some classes). This kept me very busy, but it did not leave much time for building a support system. I had wonderful support systems in the Boston area and in the D.C. area, but they couldn't help me much in Harrisburg!

I hesitantly called the number for a group called the New Mom Network. They met every Tuesday at 1 p.m. in a room above a grocery store. It was about a half hour drive from my house, but that definitely didn't matter!

The nice lady on the phone that I could start attending whenever, but I probably wanted to wait a few weeks until I was ready to get out (I told her that I had a 1-week-old). I hung up the phone and cried...two weeks from then felt eternal...I needed friends IMMEDIATELY!

Long story short (too late, right!?), I survived the next two weeks (and I got to the doctor for some hormone help!). I showed up at the New Mom Network and sat down in a circle next to all the other moms and babies. Gianna slept the entire time in the baby carrier. I was scared to death that she would wake up because I had never breastfed in public...ha (now I can't think of a place that I haven't breastfed)!

One mom in particular (Jenn with baby Maddie) was extremely friendly and welcoming. She went out of her way to introduce me to people and to make sure that I felt included. I remember how I drove home that day with a big smile...I now had a friend! I will never forget her kindness at a time in my life when I needed it most...

For the next four years, there was a group of us that got together every single Tuesday. Once our babies became crawlers, we left the grocery store room and headed to living rooms instead! Some of my best memories of being a new mom are from my times with this group.

I left the group when Gianna turned 4 for a number of reasons (primarily that she was in preschool every morning and by then I had four kids). But, I kept in touch with Jenn through the years. Sometimes we wouldn't see each other for four and five months at a time, but we would catch up right where we left off (friends like those are the best, no!?).

The reason that I mention this today is that I just said goodbye to her on Wednesday. She is moving about two hours away to be near her husband's family. Although there is hope that we will meet up again (and there's always facebook so I can watch her kids grow up!), there is the sadness of saying goodbye.

Perhaps the start of my third trimester and the realization that (God willing), I will soon have another new life to care for and treasure, has me nostalgic for Gianna's first days...

Goodbye and God Bless, Jenn! No doubt you will continue to touch lives and make many friends in this new chapter of your life. Thank you for your friendship and best of luck!

Here's to moms supporting moms. We can't do this alone :). Thank you God for the gift of friendship. God Bless all new moms...that they may get the support that they need.

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