As I sit here to write a post in honor of Social Wellness month, my mind continually wanders back to the two most extraordinary experiences in my recent life where both my family and I have been lovingly supported by those close loved ones.
In less than three years my husband and I have had two beautiful children come into our lives. We prepared for their arrival in so many ways: researching the most sustainable diaper service in our area, preparing the room for the first baby, and attending many appointments with our doctors and midwives. It was almost a full-time job!
In the first few weeks after each baby graced our little family, time and space almost stopped. We called it “The Baby Zone.” The sun and the moon appeared throughout the entire day, yet there was no real difference between “daytime” and “nighttime” once you entered our home. Newborns don’t care if you haven’t slept more than an hour at a stretch for a few days - one in the afternoon felt identical to one in the morning.
Eating healthy meals and taking care of chores such as grocery shopping, or even running to the store for much needed baby supplies, became impossible at times.
Luckily, we had arranged with our family and community of close friends to support us with a bulk of these things. It was a godsend. Using a calendar system, our loved ones brought us some of the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. They texted prior to their arrival to see if we needed anything from the store. Some did some light cleaning if they saw that something was in disarray (which often times goes unnoticed by bleary-eyed new parents). After the birth of our second daughter, family and friends came over to take our first daughter to the park or to frozen yogurt, showering her with love and providing her with something fun to do, which also gave us a little time to rest and bond with the new addition.
Once, I even had enough energy and desire to pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate the birth of our second daughter. It was so lovely to share that moment with my sister, my brother-in-law, and my niece. That short celebratory event greatly contributed to my overall social wellness!
Another example of how our social community contributed to our family’s wellness: on the day following our second daughter’s birth, a friend texted to see if we needed anything from the store. Of course we did! She arrived with the needed chocolate and ice cream a few moments after our midwives decided that we needed to rush our newborn to the pediatrician (to check out some complications from the labor). The doctor’s office closed 15 minutes later. Our friend was instrumental in helping us organize our supplies, grab something to eat and pack our incredibly new baby into the car and get to the doctor’s office on time. Her presence helped me feel a bit more sane and the extra helping hands were of tremendous help.
As many of us move further away from our blood families, it’s so important to feel the freedom to ask our friends for support. Being a new mom or a new dad isn’t always easy. Luckily, I had a pretty good sense of how life-changing bringing a new life into the world would be (thanks to having spent so much time with my niece and nephews when they were quite young). I love my children deeply, and I also have to admit that there are times when I feel melancholy and reminisce about the time in my life when I had with much fewer responsibilities and more “freedom.” We were once a couple who could run away for a short weekend on a moment’s notice, spend many weekdays on end on our snowboards, stay up until the wee hours dancing, and spend a half-dozen hours focused on an important project, with no interruptions. Now, our little baby can’t be too far away from momma for too long, we haven’t gone snowboarding together in years, we start to nod off early each night, and for me it’s almost impossible to focus on work for too long without a small being needing my attention (until late at night - when I’m nodding off). Life is much different now.
This leads up to the entire emotional and psychological shift a person’s world takes when becoming a parent.The shift affects everyone differently. Having a close community of people to confide in, who will provide needed hugs, or who can even just lend an ear to listen after a sleepless night is absolutely golden.
The love and support from our friends and family greatly contributed to transitioning from a family of two to a family of three, and then from a family of three to a family of four. Experiencing these types of transitions with loved ones is the best way to experience life - it is truly living.