Since pretty much all of these entries so far have been about appointments and other medical updates, I thought I should devote a little space to the wonderful and amazing support we’ve gotten from so many. This will be BY NO MEANS a complete account, so if you did something nice for us and it’s not documented here, PLEASE know that we deeply appreciated it and it just didn’t happen to get written about in this little blog entry. </end disclaimer>
Both Peter and I have gotten so much wonderful support from our workplaces. Generous gift cards, notes of support, flowers, tasty treats to lift the spirits, and most important: flexibility with our schedules to take time for doctor’s visits or just emotional rest, especially after we got the initial diagnosis and the news about the lymph node. I can’t imagine how hard this all would have been if either or both of us had had jobs that were inflexible. I think there would have been a lot of crying at work and very little actual work done. My mom’s job as well has been wonderful. I literally do not know what we would have done without her the day of surgery, and the fact that she will be taking extended FMLA-slash-working from our place after this next surgery until the baby comes is beyond amazing.
The timing with baby showers and all this crap has actually been nice, despite the fact that my first recovery delayed my work shower and threatened my “friend” shower. The reason it’s nice is that it is SO WONDERFUL to come home to a package on the doorstep or be able to gaze admiringly at a new, adorable little outfit. I’m sure getting baby things is always fun and exciting, but for us, it is doubly or triply true. It reminds us of the great, happy things that we have to look forward to.
Certain things are also unexpectedly making this much more real for me, which I’m realizing is HUGELY important for my mental well-being. For example, now that the crib is set up with the adorable sheet and crib skirt my mom made, along with a sweet little lamb we got from a friend, I can perfectly envision lifting our baby girl up from a nap and can see her smiling little face and her little legs kicking away in her sleep sack. That vision gets me through a lot.
Whenever we get something new, it helps me to picture our baby in the new onesie, playing with the new toy, wearing the adorable cloth diaper, or reading the special book. It’s really hard sometimes to imagine what life will be like beyond this immediate moment (with the baby still conveniently stowed in my abdomen), so anything that makes it feel more real gives me more strength to fight because I can imagine even more clearly exactly what I am truly fighting for.
The shower my friends put on for me last Saturday (Really? It’s only been a week?) was… I can’t even really put into words how amazing it was. It’s funny because when people have asked how it was, many of them ask if I got “a lot of good stuff.” The presents were wonderful, but really that wasn’t what was the important part to me. The fact that so many of my dear friends were there, loving and supporting me through all of this was what truly mattered.
Because I still had the attractive yellow sponge sewn to my forehead, my mom and I made a “fascinator” inspired by the royal wedding and designed to sort of distract/cover some of the sponge. One of my dear friends knew this and had the genius idea to secretly ask all of the guests to wear hats or other headgear. And everyone DID. That gesture alone brought tears to my eyes.
In addition to the people, the shower itself was stunning. Planned by two of my closest friends, it truly reflected how well they know me and how much they care about me. Knowing how much I love to plan parties and love details, this party was chock full of gorgeous details. Beautiful flowers, perfect table settings (hard to do in a park!), and amazing food that was themed to classic children’s books, all of which absolutely fit me to a T. The thought, love and care they put into all of it brought me (again) to tears.
This experience has also taught me to ask for things that I really want (well, actually, it was my amazing Alicia who taught me that, but that is a huge topic for another post). There have been a few things that I have really, really wanted and were really important to me, and friends have moved mountains to make those things happen.
The first was getting maternity pictures taken before my surgery. I knew my face would never look quite the same and I knew I wanted pictures taken before I got huge. Which meant… I had about 4 days to plan maternity pictures before surgery. Luckily, I have wonderful, amazing friends who worked so hard to get me a make-up consultation at Sephora on prom weekend, and another *truly* wonderful friend who took time from pretty much the worst time of the semester to take pictures of Peter and me. I also happened to have a sort of “back up” maternity session scheduled that day as well with a painter who takes free maternity photos in exchange for using them in her paintings. Now, I am so very very glad we took those opportunities because there would be no time now and I just would not feel as comfortable or like the pictures as much with a large bandage on my face.
Yesterday, my belly dance sisters got together for a little dance party to celebrate the baby with me, and also to allow me one last chance to dance with all my muscles fully functioning. On many levels, I have accepted the fact that I will be losing my sternocleidomastoid (used to turn and tilt the head) and the possibility of losing or damaging the accessory nerve (super important for shoulder control). When I think about life vs. turning my head, I say “cut cut cut!!!” But when I think of my favorite style of dance, American Tribal belly dance, which relies very heavily on arm movements, head turns and other cues, I do get sad about possibly losing something so important to me. So the chance to do this one last time with women I love was very important to me and they made it happen.
In addition to these things, there have been many, many offers of help. We have a point person who will be coordinating these offers with our needs, and our doulas have also offered to coordinate meals, which is wonderful. I expect to get more information out about how people can help later today or within the next few days.
I’d also really like to encourage those people who feel like they want to do something to consider waiting until the baby comes because I feel like THAT will be when we need even more help. I will likely still be recovering from surgery/birth, plus will probably have even more doctor’s appointments (baby, oncology, etc.), PLUS we will have a brand new baby who won’t want to sleep who we will need to figure out how to take care of!
In the meantime, thanks for EVERYTHING. We love you all so much.