My village mattered the most when I thought I had it all down

Just when I thought I had this three kid thing down, life threw me a curveball. My two-month-old was down for the count, suffering through two respiratory viruses and pneumonia. I was already on edge due to feeding challenges, and now I found myself with a living room full of first responders trying to recount what I had just witnessed. When I phoned 911, the operator asked me a slew of questions. “Please answer yes, no, or I don’t know. I don’t know is okay.” I never thought I’d be the “I don’t know” kind of mom, especially if you were inquiring as to my child’s breathing status, but I was maxed out on decision making. This was the first of many medical professionals that assured me, “It’s okay.”

I knew that something wasn’t right in Charlie’s respiratory system. This wasn’t my first rodeo—the memories and feelings from Cameron’s respiratory difficulties started flooding back. My jumpiness returned as well as my inability to focus on what was in front of me because I was so zeroed in on Charlie’s feeding or lack thereof. I felt overwhelmed as this wasn’t how it was supposed to go—I was supposed to have a “tag along Charlie” (as my family referred to third babies). But all of a sudden I found myself panicking on the side of the road as we shuttled between specialists and pediatricians and school pick up thinking that it wasn’t supposed to happen this way—this wasn’t what I ordered.

The difference between Charlie's first two months of life and my previous postpartum periods is that now my village is solid. As a direct result of creating Main Street Mamas, I knew I had a village that I could count on, and I started to reach out to them. Here’s what happened:

  • I was able to be open and honest with colleagues, and I was not offended when they confirmed that I seemed overwhelmed.

  • I called a friend who specialized in maternal mental health and told her that when my train started down the track, I couldn’t stop it.

  • I accepted a friend’s offer to come over to hold the baby while I showered and that wonderfully turned into a five girlfriend lunch, assuring me that I did have friends to call on.

  • When Charlie was admitted to the ICU, I was able to phone a friend as he was being wheeled down the hallway to tell her how very scared I was as I choked through tears.

  • My two other kids were scooped up for playdates—epic playdates—in households that felt like home to them.

  • I called a dear friend to tell her that we needed food, and I was temporarily fixated on the older kids having fresh fruit and specific roasted vegetables. They were delivered.

  • A mom in the community who had worked in the PICU unit we were staying in was able to help me navigate and advocate. She helped to validate my emotions and rationalize the journey we were on.

I never thought I would need this support the third time around. I didn’t expect postpartum anxiety to rear its head again. Then I thought about the village I had created, and I was able to ask for the things I needed with no guilt attached because the members of my village know I would do the same for them.

Below are a few suggestions on how to build your village so that when the unscripted happens, you too can ask for and receive help.

  1. Join your Main Street Mamas Birth Group

  2. Check out the calendar and go to classes/playgroups/events. No events happening when you are free or where you can attend? Create one or let us know, and we will see what we can do.

  3. Offer to help others when you can

  4. Show up as your authentic self online and off