Saturday, February 20, 2016

Birth and Death

Today was an interesting day. One of my friends had a baby who was much anticipated and eagerly awaited and one friend said goodbye to her twins that were born and died too soon. I empathize strongly with people so there was excited glee and running to tell Austin when I read about the birth and an embarrassing amount of crying at the memorial service in the afternoon.

On the way home, I got to thinking about how we as outsiders behave in both situations. When a birth or death is posted about on facebook, we like and comment. We bring food and offer help in those first few weeks where everything is so upside down. The offers taper off, though, and we leave the new parents/newly bereaved to adjust to their new world, expecting them to have it all figured out by the time the first monthly anniversary of the event has passed.

The thing is, they don't always have it figured out.

I've had both experiences in my life: birthing three children and losing my dad. And all the experiences were different.

After Dad died, we had a ton of offers from people we hadn't seen or heard from in years, people we typically see at baby and wedding showers and at weddings and funerals. I remember one man who I hadn't seen in I can't remember how long standing in Mom's kitchen with a bag of sausage McMuffins and just being almost overwhelmed to tears that he brought us breakfast. NO ONE thinks about breakfast. They always think about dinners and maybe some snacks. We got plants and donations to Dad's favorite charitable organizations. We got emails and cards and letters and text messages for weeks. We were allowed to grieve in our own time and in our own way.

Once I got home to Carrollton, though, I felt very alone. I've never been great at meeting and making friends and it was very apparent to me that I hadn't done that in Carrollton, even though we'd been living there for about 6 or 7 months by then. We'd been going to church in Arlington and I honestly don't remember a single person from there offering help or condolences once I got home. They did come to the service and sent things to my mom, don't think they're terrible people, but I felt alone and adrift once I was home and supposed to be "better" or something. I wasn't. It took a long time to be better.

With each of my babies, I was so disappointed by the lack of help my "community" offered us. We had a few people from our church and close friends bring food the first time. Two families brought food the second time and one person took Asher for an afternoon. And when Eden was born, the insanity of her diagnoses kind of changed what people might have done. One person outside of my family brought us something, a woman I met in MOPS and she was awesome and brought us dinner every week for three weeks.

Normally, people want to come and ooh and aah over the baby, they bring presents if there wasn't a shower for the baby, they want to help, they want to be there for the new mom, if there's an older sibling they want to give them some attention so they don't feel completely left out. But then after about two weeks or so, people look confused when mom is still at home adjusting.

Grief is exhausting. Not as much as a newborn, but still. Both situations leave you tired and raw and emotional and fumbling through a new reality. It's even harder when you feel like you have no support.

I'm so glad to read about my mommy friends who have a new baby and are just SHOWERED with help immediately after: so much food they can't even store it all, people loving on their older kids so they won't feel left out, an offer to sit with the baby so mom can shower or pee alone.

I'm relieved to hear that my friend who is grieving is being loved on by her friends and family. I can't imagine what she's going through and I hope I never have to experience it myself. But I'm so thankful she has such a strong community to surround her and lift her up.

Life is hard enough, y'all. We shouldn't have to go through the really tough times alone. We need to extend grace to each other in these situations and give each other time to adjust. We're here to take care of each other. That's the meaning of life.

Friday, February 12, 2016

One Day More!

About an hour ago, Austin began the drive to Sweetwater like he has most weekday mornings for the past 5.5 years. FOR. THE. LAST. TIME!

We're excited.

A few weeks ago, a friend of Austin's who works at a company here in town, Milsoft, encouraged him to apply for a position that had opened. In true Austin form, he put it off for a while before applying. They called him in fairly quickly for an interview, including another open position in the interview process. The kids and I met up with Austin and his friend for lunch after to talk about how things went.

He knew immediately they weren't going to hire him for one of the positions and seemed a little discouraged they'd consider him for the other since the entire interview was about 15 minutes long. That rarely turns out well in my experience.

So we went about our weekend, shrugging our shoulders and saying "oh well, it would have been nice."

The next week (I want to say Wednesday?) they called and asked him to come in for another interview, so he took off Friday to stay in town and do that. He was a little late to his 2pm interview and later figured that probably hurt him. He proceeded to have a 2.5 interview process with several different people, one the husband of another friend of ours. He was asked point blank what kind of compensation he was asking for and he told them he'd like to make what he's making at Ludlums since simply losing that commute will give him a pay raise of around $2000. They said he'd hear from them by Monday.

Saturday, the next day, was the final session of Eden's lullaby photo shoot and she was, of course, adorable. We got a great three generations shot of me, Eden, and Mom and everyone went out for donuts after.

Monday afternoon, Austin got a call offering him a job! For 25% MORE than he asked! It wasn't even a position they had, they sort of created one for him that's almost exactly what he likes and wants to do. We couldn't believe our luck. They will pay for him to get an additional masters degree and he'll have some time at work to work on it. They eventually want him to become a Professional Engineer, which involves a really long test given only like twice a year (it's seriously like an 8-hour test). The compensation package of insurance and tuition reimbursement is on top of the salary, so the whole package is SO much more than what he was getting at Ludlums.

Let me tell you, that is a HUGE relief after a year full of anxiety over finances.

So today is his last day at Ludlums and Monday he starts at Milsoft. He'll be working IN TOWN. He won't have to drive 45 minutes to get to work, something he's done our entire marriage. He can come to stuff the kids have going on, like doctor's appointments and school programs. If I'm sick and he needs to get home to help out, he can very easily.

I'm not sure who's more excited about this, him or me.

In other news, Eden had her latest cardio appointment last Thursday and impressed everyone. Her oxygen levels were a little lower, upper 80's, but she'd been congested for a while so it wasn't unusual. Everything else looked great and she won't go back to see a cardiologist until June unless we feel like something's wrong. We're also doing her at home oxygen checks only twice a week now. AND she's been cleared for daycare so she can go to FKO! She's still not walking, though she's thinking REAL HARD about it. Sometimes.

Asher is doing great, too. He's reading over my shoulder and asking me to let everyone know we're going to the Grace Museum later today. He's doing great with his bowel issues and went an entire day with no accidents yesterday. Yay!

Elijah is also doing great. He was sick on Wednesday so had to miss the Valentine's Party at FKO yesterday, to his dismay. He cried when he had to stay in the car when we dropped off Asher and Eden but he recovered and came home to watch Little Einsteins and My Little Pony, which became one show called My Little Einsteins when he was telling Austin about it.

I'm happy my kids are doing well and Austin's got this fabulous new job. I've sold several of the freezer meals I made to the point that I'm thinking I'll have to cook some more. That's a problem I'm ok with. I'm happy to help families in my circle with ready to go dinners that are a little healthier than fast food or a mass produced frozen entree (I do use full fat everything, so they're not exactly healthy).

And now, some pictures!

When Austin's gone for some reason, we take pictures and videos and send them to him. This was Asher's picture, bragging about his pizza while Austin was at a wedding and eating gourmet food. I think Austin won on that one. 

Baby girl getting comfy at MOPS on Monday. 

The picture Eden and In took for Austin.

She's over the big poofy dresses that she can't crawl in and she's over Daddy being gone for three days.

We spent that weekend at Aunt Cari and Uncle Dennis's house and the boys made themselves at home. 

Elijah's picture to Daddy, showing off his new-to-him pjs (I LOVE Kid-to-Kid).