To Our Village, On Our Daughter’s First Birthday

Before having Lena, I had this picture in my mind of my husband and I taking care of her ourselves 24/7 and only relying on help when we wanted a date night. This has very much not been the case, and it probably isn’t the case for a majority of parents. We all need support.

I saw very quickly the importance of calling on family and friends when necessary.

I think about how wonderful the first three months were at home with her, away from work. We bonded 24/7, she and I. Although I didn’t know all the answers to her newborn problems and struggled to keep from crying when she cried.

Then, I returned to work and needed HELP.

Being a nightshift nurse is tough enough on the body and mind, enter a baby into the mix and the difficulty level rises significantly.

Enter, our village.

My mother has been more like a third parent to Beans. Always there, always willing to help take care of her.

My father watches her on Fridays and some Sundays while I either work or recover from a nightshift. Ever the overprotective Poppi. He watches her like a hawk.

My friend’s mom, who is also like a Mom to me, helped every Wednesday for the first few months after returning to work so I could get a few hours of sleep after a nightshift. It was much needed!

My two cousins have graciously and eagerly been helping whenever I need them since she was about 2 months old. Sometimes even last minute.

They used to watch me when I was a baby, so I can imagine how surreal it is for them to watch mine now. One‘s daughter, 11, also is a big help. She loves Lena as if she were her little sister. And the son, 8, lets Lena beat him up and do whatever she wants. She’s got his soft spot for sure.

My sister has been home for a few months and watches her when I need to sleep before or after a shift. She has quickly taken on a caregiver role as well. It’s been great getting more rest than usual.

Before moving back home, she only saw Lena about once a month, so I know she’s loving this time with her.

My sister-in-law helped a few times early on so that my husband and I could have a date night or just a mini break.

A few of my girlfriends have also helped sporadically when I needed them.

We deeply appreciate them all more than they know! We thank you for loving us enough to care for our girl.

I realize that not every parent has an abundance of help readily available. It’s a daily struggle for many parents. So, it’s something we don’t take for granted.

It Takes a Village

Can we talk about the importance of a village for a sec?

It really does take a village to raise a child! Especially during the first year of life when they’re helpless and extremely dependent.

Infants need 24 hour supervision, and that’s a lot for parents to handle by themselves, especially once they return to work and have additional responsibilities.

I am very thankful for my village! They’ve helped my husband and I countless times these past 5 months and they continue to support us selflessly with no hidden agenda, no quid pro quo.

Whether it’s watching her for a few hours in the morning (or a whole day) after I’ve come off a nightshift, or babysitting while we go out, or coming over just to spend time with her and show her love, we truly appreciate our village.

I can only imagine what single parents go through who truly don’t have any outside help. Or parents who move to a foreign place and have to sometimes rely on strangers for help.

We have been very fortunate to have family members and close family friends to help us babysit when we need it.

If you know a friend or family member who recently had a baby, I encourage you to reach out to those new parents and offer help (only if you mean it.)

If you don’t feel comfortable watching a newborn/infant, then simply making them a meal in the first few months would help tremendously because they’ll be too tired to cook for themselves.

Or come fold some laundry.

Only half-kidding about that one.

How do we go through so many clothes in one week?!

But I digress…

Moms and Dads, don’t ever feel bad about asking for help or leaning on your village for help. You don’t have to do this parenting thing alone! It’s better to rely on the kindness of others than to struggle alone and have your baby suffer the consequences. It does not make you weak in any way, shape, or form.

Love,

Meg