I received the following note this morning:
I never got the chance to thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me through one of the toughest times in my life. No one ever told me that life after pregnancy could be so hard. But your phone calls and encouraging words after VERYcutebaby was born meant more to me than you could possibly know. I found comfort in knowing that someone knew what I was going through and that I didn’t have to pretend everything was sweet and rosy. Thank you so much for reaching out to me when I needed it the most (even though I didn’t know I did). etc etc.
I was in tears. Obviously. Sometimes we don’t realize our own ability to touch the life of another person. Watching this talented person struggle with handling everything with ease one day, then giving birth and being at a total loss for how to adjust to the fact that (a) you are no longer in control and (b) there is no perfect way to deal with the work-to-baby-to-work transition, hit me very hard.
I had a very intense flashback of how I felt when my older daughter was born, going from working overly full days in graduate school to home alone with newborn, no adult conversation, lucky to have five minutes to myself to take a shower. Sure I loved my daughter beyond belief (and of course still do!) and found her to be the most beautiful and precious creature that I had ever laid eyes on- but I cried every day- and I felt that no one understood how seriously down I was. I was sure I needed psychiatric help and was unaccustomed to feeling things so desperately out of control. Not to mention that my body was wrecked and everything on me was painful.
Fortunately I made a couple of friends on my street…. cause no one I went to grad school with had kids… or was even married… and these new friends all had babies 2-3 months older than mine. It was invaluable for me to lay my sadness out for these women, who had all recently had babies themselves and felt some of the same things I was going through, and to see by their example that things were going to be ok. To know that I was going to come to terms with this new arrangement, in fact- that I would grow to love it so much that I would want to do it AGAIN.
I made a promise to myself then that I would try to extend the same kindness that was shown to me in that difficult time to others in the same situation.
I’m just glad I could help this time.