A few months ago I achingly wrote about how I longed for a village of days past - the kind where mothers and grandmothers and aunts lived next door or just down the street and could swoop in to a new mom's rescue within minutes of a plea for help offering wisdom, a shoulder to cry on or arms to snuggle a new baby when a confused toddler needed his mommy. The kind of village where neighbors share their lives instead of just plates of Christmas cookies once a year. The kind of village where distance and employment demands weren't a factor in being able to support or help or reach out to either someone who needed just a little extra love or someone who needed strong arms to carry her. I was longing for an old-fashion community comprised of like-minded people living at arm's reach. Fast forward to yesterday ...
I was so sick with a stomach bug I could barely roll over and position myself to nurse Baby E. His hungry groans quickly ascended to crying. As I forced my body to roll over and struggled to help him latch on, I realized that my milk production had dropped from the hours of fluid loss during the wee hours of the night. He gulped what milk there was and upon realizing there was only a trickle of milk left, his crying then crescendoed into full-fledged screams. My mind frantically raced through options. There was no more milk in the freezer; that supply was diminished quickly during my dad's two-week hospital ordeal and subsequent funeral. And I didn't want to give baby E. formula, especially while I was sick with a stomach virus. He needed the antibodies in breast milk probably more than something to eat. (Have you seen his luscious rolls? He surely wouldn't starve if he skipped a feeding or two.)
But there's no explaining to an almost eight month old that mommy cannot nurse him right now and he'll have to wait until she can hold down fluid to produce more milk to feed him.
In my panic, I asked hubby to send out a plea for milk to our local babywearing group, a group where mamas not only wear their little ones but also tend to breastfeed for the first year of baby's life and beyond. (Of course, he wrote it in first person, grammatical errors and all.)
My husband said within just minutes, several e-mails came back with mamas offering to bring over frozen milk or pump some in addition to nursing their nurslings. Even the mothers who had weaned their little ones offered to let any of the other nursing mothers borrow pumps, run milk to our house and contact other friends who may have had some frozen milk.
As my hubby relayed the response, it soothed me as I lie in bed half dazed, body aching, head spinning and nauseous. Shortly after, one of my friends dropped off milk and baby E. happily chugged it and promptly fell asleep. And I finally drifted off to much-needed sleep, unworried and comforted that baby E. would be just fine until I could resume fluids and nurse him.
Late that same afternoon, though still completely wiped from the virus and so completely muscle to bone sore, I was able to drink and nurse the baby. I finally checked my own e-mail, relieving hubby of the task, and I saw firsthand all of the responses from the moms in our group. And I was completely overwhelmed for the probably the hundredth time during the last three weeks by love and gratitude.
Because these last few weeks, I've been so very needy -- with my dad's death and weeks spent away from our home while tending to my father in the hospital and our own stomach illnesses just as we arrived home and a business that didn't stop just because my life had frozen in a state of shock and grief.
During the past three weeks, my family, my little family, has been held in God's gracious love and wrapped in the warm arms of friends who have come to our aid both physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
Comments poured in on my blog expressing sincere condolences after I wrote painful entries detailing my dad's hospitalization, death and funeral. E-mails flooded my inbox from women I've hugged in person and women I've only embraced virtually. Aunts, uncles, cousins lovingly sat for hours in a third floor waiting room with us just waiting and an angel of a family member watched our boys during the funeral. Friends tweeted and retweeted my prayer requests. Cards, care packages, flowers, overflowed our dining room table.
Food was baked and brought to the wake and dinners were delivered to our home. And then yesterday, when I got sick? And baby E needed milk? The milk flowed, too.
And I realized, this is my village. These people who brought dinner but live 30 minutes away and three kids of their own to cook for or sent care packages all the way from California and Massachusetts or pumped their very own breast milk for my baby and drove it to my house or e-mailed prayers or tweeted encouragement or stood at my front door wrapping their arms around me? These people, YOU, are my neighbors in the truest sense of the word.
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)
Proximity is sometimes necessary for physical needs to be met, yes; but for your soul, your very heart to be cared for in such amazing and beautiful and powerful way? Well, that requires more than just closeness of our houses -- that requires closeness of the heart.
And my heart is so very, very full. Thank you.
And thank you for reading my [lately] very sad blog. Though I have a million and one things to do, I needed to write this thank you. Also, this is the cheapest form of therapy and requires much less time than actually going to a therapy session. :)