As a new parent, you usually expect to be exhausted by the constant demands of a baby, uncomfortable from postpartum healing, and adjusting to life with a newborn. What you don’t usually expect, however, is abdominal surgery after your precious bundle is born. Unfortunately, that is the predicament in which I found myself four short weeks after the birth of my son.
The week before my surgery was filled with sleepless nights–less from the new baby than from sharp pains that accompany a misbehaving gallbladder. We made several trips to the Emergency Room for pain management with the kids in tow because I was in too much pain to drive myself.
Surgery came as a sweet relief from the constant pain, but the days after were a struggle. I took minimal medication so I could breastfeed my infant son who heartily refused a bottle. In addition, my husband, Joe, had to go back to work three days after my surgery.
The first post-surgery week at home alone with our two youngest children, a 4-week-old and a 23-month-old, were the hardest days of parenting thus far. I was completely overwhelmed by the constant demands of my two children. We survived on cereal and whatever take out dinner my husband picked up on his way home from work.
That experience opened my eyes to the importance of a support system. I could have desperately used help. It would have been a blessing for someone to have amused my toddler for an hour or two, or brought a dinner for my family, or done some dishes so I could rest and recover. Frankly, I felt like it would have been a burden to ask anyone for help, so we made due.
This situation was in stark contrast to my childhood experience when my dad broke his leg which I covered in my last blog post. But the fault doesn’t lie in our neighbors or friends, the fault lies with my family, who hadn’t made it a point to get to know our neighbors. How could they help when there was no communication?
Having learned the importance of a neighborhood support system, Joe and I now make it a point to try to help others. From offering to fix the fence of a neighbor with an escape artist dog to being a listener to a friend in crisis, we make it a point to do what we can when we see a need we can fill.
As Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” We believe that “someone” should start with our neighbors. Maybe, like us, you didn’t make it a point to get to know your neighbors when you moved into your home. But, just as we did, you are probably also missing the opportunity to form a support system that benefits your entire neighborhood. There may be someone right next door who is struggling, and you may be missing an opportunity to be a blessing to someone in need.