And then she came, and it was super hard and easy all at once. Peter was able to stay home for the first 6 out of 7 weeks of Kayla's life, due to Thanksgiving, paternity leave and saved vacation days. I wasn't allowed to lift little man. It hurt for the first few weeks to do anything. My feet swelled so much from all the fluid that when I walked, my toes didn't touch the ground. Although I had to rely on Peter for pretty much everything over the past two years (except from November '09 - February '10... 3 measly months...), it was back to business as usual. I'd have to constantly ask for his help, and he was wonderful and he'd do everything with
Finally, on January 5th, the wonderful, talented, simply amazing Dr. Jahedi told me that I was given a clean bill of health, and I was free to do whatever I wanted. When I got back to my car (after chit-chatting with her for a while... can I tell you how much I love her?) I took a deep breath and smiled. I could get me back.
It started with being able to go to the mall with the kids... I can carry the kiddos downstairs, put my 30+ lb little man in his car seat, unload and set up the monstrosity of a double stroller, and get them in the mall without letting them freeze. Then, I was able to start mall walking with a dear friend, and I felt even better. I could help get the leaf out of the dining room table. I could move boxes and chairs. I was back.
But the biggest realization hit when I met a new mom friend (when we were at another mall with another friend). She was sitting at the table next to us with a sleeping baby in a stroller, and Jason was being uber cute with his straw and milk. We started the normal mommy conversations: how old, names, so cute, etc... and then it lead to her telling me that she was relatively new to the area, she's tried to get involved in mommy groups but it was hard to break in, and her family lived in California.
My heart ached for her. No matter how bad it got, or how sorry I was for myself for not being able to physically do what I wanted, I had my family here. I had a large circle of friends who supported and listened, and my dear, dear mommy friends who understood exactly what I was going through. It was almost starvation that I saw in my new friends eyes... the longing for finding a group of mommies who knew. The ones who could say "oh yeah, that happened to me," or "I understand," or "have you tried," and not judge parenting styles, just offer support.
So of course I got her email/number and we got in touch. She was able to come and meet another mommy and me at the mall again. She had so many questions, and Rachelle and I were so happy to share our limited experiences with her, and to just listen as she talked.
Diaper changes were needed, and my Kayla needed to eat. I grabbed a bottle so I could head over to Corner Bakery to ask for hot water, and by then Kayla was crying. I looked at Rachelle and asked if she could just keep the pacifier in K's mouth, and that I'd be back in a minute. Our new friend looked shocked. "How could you be so calm?"she asked. I laughed and said she was my second. I knew she was hungry. There was nothing else I could do for her but go as fast as I could to get a bottle, no matter how much she cried.
As I made the bottle, I thought about Jason when he was 2 months old. I refused to take him out unless Peter, Debbie or Mom was with me. I was petrified to take him to restaurants. To anywhere! I was so scared he'd cry, or have a diaper malfunction, or something, anything that would make me overwhelmed and not be able to fix him fast enough. That was the look that was in my new friend's eyes.
I wanted to tell her that she'll get more confident as her little man gets older. That a screaming baby is not the end of the world, and that you can take your time and relax as you help them. That stressing over the baby when he's crying in public will just make it worse. I wanted to tell her that one day, it will be easier. Not easy. I don't know if it ever will be easy... just easier. I didn't say those things... I'm hoping that we'll continue to see each other and I can watch her become more confident. And I'm hoping that she'll find a group of mommies (if not us, another group) who will lend an ear and a shoulder to cry on.
And she doesn't know how much she helped me... she made me realize that I am capable. That this parenting of two under 16 months is a challenge, but doable. A challenge that I can't wait to try every morning. A challenge that makes my heart melt as my baby girl stares after her big brother, that makes me laugh as Jason gives Kayla a chewed up piece of paper to make her stop crying (chewed up paper... that's a highly coveted prize in his 15 month old life... just like straws, socks, and dog food), that makes me appreciate every cuddle, that makes me so grateful that I have those two little lives that need me, and that no matter how hard the journey was to get to this moment, no matter how helpless and dependent I felt, that I wouldn't trade it for the world.