A month ago, the internet was blowing up with gratitude. I was thankful beyond belief, but instead of worrying about sharing a list, I was trying my best just to sneak in a nap. So now, a month after Thanksgiving, is my list of what–or more importantly, who–I was most thankful for this past November:
- Last May, I told my yoga class that I wouldn’t be teaching in the fall semester because I would be 38 weeks pregnant. After class, I was approached by a student who was studying to be a childbirth educator and offered to be a resource for me as I navigated the pregnant/childbirth world.
Caitlin was more than a resource–we hired her to be our childbirth educator, and she opened her home to us on Friday nights to teach us about the stages of childbirth, intervention options, and comfort measures … and being a good Southern girl, she always provided cookies and lemonade.
Caitlin also needed to observe a certain number of births to finish her studies, so we invited her to be a part of our day; but she did so much more than observe! She took 2 days off of work to act as our doula, arriving at the hospital at 8am on Tuesday and not leaving until 8am Wednesday. She coached and entertained and performed counterpressures–all while 32 weeks pregnant herself–and when the time came to push, Caitlin held my legs. And when Sam finally came out (after 31 hours of labor), we asked Caitlin to cut the umbilical cord. She was such an incredibly helpful and essential part of our childbirth story, and we are so overwhelmingly grateful that she took time away from her job and family to spend it with us.
- We called my mom shortly after I was admitted to the hospital, and she dropped everything to come help out. While I was in early labor, she told stories and ran errands (we sent her to the cafeteria for Ben’s dinner and to the store for more Gatorade), and later on she watched the monitors to watch Sam’s heart rate and give me a report of how things were going … and anyone who knows Maureen knows that she was praying endless rosaries.
As labor dragged on, Mom headed back to our house and made it easier for us to go home in a few days–cleaned the kitchen, prepped frozen dinners and recovery items, and did laundry. After Sam arrived, she came to the hospital to hold him while I took naps.
And when Ben had to go back to work, Mom came back–four visits in four weeks–to help out with food, sleep and recovery. (She also learned how to work Netflix and watched so much Doctor Who!)
She & my dad also came to town for Thanksgiving, cooking a big meal for our family to simply enjoy without any stress or travel required. (I mean, I was barely functional at Thanksgiving, so having family nearby to take care of the basics so I could take care of the baby and Ben could take care of both of us was an invaluable help!)
- Ben’s mom booked her flight back in August, and arrived when Sam was 3 weeks old. Julie gave my mom a break to head home for a while, and did some serious deep cleaning of the house and tons of cooking and laundry. She also got me & Sam out of the house to show her around our town–I’d been in hibernation mode but being able to show off Saratoga was enough to convince me to leave!
Julie also helped us establish a bit of a routine–I could wake up, feed Sam, then hand him off while I went back to sleep–and filled us with lots of stories about Ben’s childhood.
- Our neighbors, Bre & Rich and Mia & Greg. I went into labor at 11pm and we left for the hospital at 4am, and by noon our neighbors had kidnapped (dog-napped?) Toby and spoiled him with cuddles and kisses in our absence.
- Our photographer, Ashley, who came to our house on a Sunday morning and photograph our little 4-day-old baby. It was stressful as first time parents to hand our newborn over, but she was so gentle and artful in her work, and we are so in love with her photos and happy that we decided in advance to do newborn photos … because if we’d waited until Sam was born, there’s no way we could have found someone as amazing as Ashley in our zombie-like states.
- Everybody who dropped by with food and sent gifts to Mr. Sam. We are totally overwhelmed by the welcome that he’s received–Ben jokes that Sam has gotten more mail in 6 weeks than he has the whole year–and are so grateful for all the adorable clothes, books, Christmas ornaments, and nursery decorations (including a vintage Pedro Martinez bobblehead, because we’re going to raise him right).
- And my awesome husband Ben. I know I’ve been writing half of this as “we” and thanking people on his behalf, but I’ve just got to share that there’s something incredible about watching the man you love become a father, seeing the way that his eyes light up when they see his child, and learning how to parent together. Ben is great at swaddling and soothing and entertaining, AND he changes more diapers than I do when he’s home. More importantly, Sam loves him–Ben was the recipient of Sam’s first real smile.
Ben’s also been great helping me out too–taking the first or last feeding of the day so I can shower or sleep, stopping at the store when I don’t have time to get groceries, giving long back rubs to alleviate the neck & shoulder soreness of breastfeeding. He has been the best husband & father I could ask for, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
Aaaaand now that I’ve written my Thanksgiving post on December 27, time to get my Christmas stuff together. Hopefully I’ll be able to get announcement cards and thank you notes out before my birthday!