(I recently found this again. I'm amazed at how much I had forgotten. I wrote this almost 3 months after Miss S was born.)
I realized recently that I'm forgetting some of the sweet blessings of the first few weeks of Miss S's life. Those weeks were full of enough things that happened to go just right that they ceased to be coincidences and became small miracles sent by a loving Father in Heaven.
Each of my babies has been born at the right time, even when I had no idea when it would be. Miss S was no exception. She waited until after Young A's baptism, the midterms the Professor had to write and grade, and the worst of the flu that came to our house had passed. The first grandma couldn't come until the last week of the month; the second grandma had to wait until her spring break the first week of the next month. The week after that was the children's spring break. I expected Miss S to be born a week or two earlier than she was. Since she waited, I got home Friday afternoon and my mother-in-law came on Monday. Had she waited even 12 hours, I would have been induced. It would have been fine, but wasn't what I really wanted. Perfect timing. (And, the other children were mostly in bed when I left and still in bed when the Professor came home.)
The nurses this time were each what I needed. Thoughtful when I needed thoughtful, kind when I needed kind, and efficient when I needed efficient. I have never been as well taken care of.
The most humbling miracle has been the outpouring of love from our neighbors and friends and family.
For context, you need to understand that most of my babies have been born far away from family. Most of the communities we've been part of have been full of young student families starting out and having babies. They always take care of each other, but their resources (both time, money, and experience) are limited. The last two babies have been born less than a year after a move (eight months and four months respectively) when we were still getting to know those around us. I've learned to lean on others for the necessary things (babysitting to go to the hospital) while becoming quite independent for the rest.
Before Miss S was even born, those around me wanted to be part of this. As I asked women if they were willing and able to help with the other children when Miss S was born, I was surprised that not only were they willing, but they were eager to help. There was no way I could know who would be around when we needed them, but I knew that there were eight or more women who know and love me and my children hoping to hear from me, even at 2 am. What peace that brought.
The flu started going around our house the week before Miss S was born. It was no fun. And yet, when I needed babysitters for doctor appointments or hospital visits, people were willing to come and help.
On my due date, when Miss S still wasn't here, some friends organized a lunch get-together. Rather than sit at home feeling sorry for myself, I was able to visit with friends and enjoy myself.
As was planned, the women of my church were assigned to bring meals for three nights after I came home before my mother-in-law came. I thought that would be all. How wrong I was! People volunteered to bring dinner the night I was still in the hospital, the day my mother-in-law came, during the week after all the family went home, during the week the Professor was out of town. Last Sunday, another woman apologized for not bringing anything yet (she's been out of town for a few weeks) and said she will bring something during the next week or so. I've been surprised more than once by someone on my doorstep with dinner who didn't even bother to volunteer. I've never before been the center of such an outpouring that just won't stop.
(One Sunday, the Professor was out of town. A friend at church found out he'd been gone much of the week. She offered to bring dinner. When she brought it, she brought an alternative for me--in case I didn't feel like spaghetti. Then, right before dinner, my next-door neighbor called. She had made too much of a dinner that wouldn't keep. Her daughter brought some over. Suddenly, I had three dinners for one night. The leftovers made wonderful lunches over the next few days.)
And these amazing women don't just stop at bringing meals. We have plenty of baby things around here from the other children. Yet Miss S is being spoiled. She has been given toys, clothes, shoes, diapers, and blankets. Many have been homemade. Many have been sent from far away. All have been appreciated.
The first Sunday after Miss S's birth a dear friend was in town. She had moved away when I suspected I was pregnant but didn't know yet. The Professor saw her at church and invited her over. I got a chance for a lovely visit with her that afternoon.
This school year was rather ridiculous, schedule-wise. I had four children getting out of three schools with in ten minutes of each other. Each school was at least ten minutes away from the others. And yet, a couple of weeks before Miss S came, two of my friends I carpool with took over my driving duties. For most of the rest of the year, they have driven my children to and from the schools that needed it. Most of the time, I just have to stay home and take care of those of us here. When I've offered to drive more, they choose to keep driving. My days are much easier with the flexibility this allows me to have.
My dad was able to come with my mom to help us. He spent the first day working hard in our yard, crossing jobs off the list of yard work hanging over the Professor's head. The biggest of the jobs was pruning the front yard trees.
At the end of that week, my grandparents visited for an hour. While my grandma held the baby, my grandpa fixed our toilet that had been driving me crazy.
Then, a week or so later, my little brother and his wife stopped by to visit. He had a free afternoon, so he fixed the cupboard doors whose broken hinges had plagued me. (After I fixed them, they broke again. So far, he seems to have done a much better job than I did.)
And then there are the times Miss S sleeps when I'm getting desperately tired. And Young T's amazing growth in the last three or four months. It is so much easier to help him now that he can often tell me what he wants or needs.
The last few months have had plenty of tricky. We've had the flu and a broken air conditioner. We've had another cold. I've had little sleep. There's been the usual adjustment to a baby, including tears and fights. There have been minutes when everything is going wrong. But through it all, we've been watched over and loved.
I think my favorite thing about the last few months has been the sense of celebration. The response we often got when people found out we were expecting again was discouraging. I wanted people to be excited about another baby, and that wasn't always the case. How healing it has been to celebrate with those far and near the arrival of our beautiful daughter and to watch this community claim her as one of their own.
(March 2014: Since this was written, I have come to understand that when I am pregnant or depressed, I sometimes misunderstood others' actions and words. I don't know why my ability to socially read others gets compromised, but it does. I understand now that more people were excited about my pregnancy than I thought at the time. I am grateful that the Lord's healing covers the pain caused both by others' unkindness and by my misperceptions.)