Where's My Village?

Have you seen Call the Midwife yet? I've watched all three season more times than I care to admit here. I love the birth stories, I love the self-sacrificial work of the midwives, and I really love seeing the close knit community of the East End of London.

Sometimes I even feel a little jealous of the women whose stories are told in this BBC mini series. Not jealous of the poverty, crowded living conditions, and shared toilets. But jealous of the community. To step outside and always have another woman to talk to during the day, to always have a extra set of eyes to watch out for your family, to always have other kids for your kids to play with - that's what I get a jealous of.

Motherhood in the 21st century can get a little lonely. As far as I know there are no other stay-at-home moms on my block; I don't think there are even kids younger than high-school-aged.  I often go from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm without interacting with another adult, unless we've gone to Target, but then it's just the check out person who I'm sure doesn't feel like discussing the intricate nuances of baby sleep with me. 

The old adage says that it takes a village to raise a baby and sometimes I wonder, where's my village? 

My village doesn't look the same as it would have in the 1950's. And how could it? Culture has changed so much. 

Sometimes my village looks like this:

Ah, the group texts, it's like your friends are right there with you. A nice way to vent about the nap that never was, a nice way to have a little laugh during the day, a nice way to know you're not the only one doing this right now. 

Or sometimes my village looks like this:

A big part of why I blog is the online community. Reading what other women are going through and thinking about lets me share in their lives and make friends. And hearing feedback on what I write, either in the comments or on Facebook, means a lot to me.  It says I'm not doing this alone.

Sometimes my village looks like my sister coming over to do laundry and then playing with Johnny so that I can put my makeup on in peace.

Sometimes my village looks like my husband taking Johnny for a walk so that I can have alone time to read, or write this blog post! 

Sometimes my village looks like me bringing a meal to girlfriend who just had a baby. Because my village isn't just about people helping me. I'm a part of someone else's village and they need my help just like I need theirs. 

And sometimes my village looks exactly the way I want it to look, four or five girlfriends and their kids and babies all crammed in my house, with noise and mess and chaos. And community. 

This is the hardest kind of village-building to do. Everyone one is so busy, everyone's schedules are so different, sometimes it feels like it's not worth it pack up and put on shoes and buckle car seats and maybe I should just stay home. 

But I say it is worth it. I say that nothing replaces face to face conversations. I say that nothing ministers to a bruised soul like the presence of a true friend. 

And I say all these things because I am at the end of a very long week. I'm over-tired, a little stressed, and a little crabby.  But I got to spend some time with some girlfriends this morning and it made my soul ten times lighter. It was loud and crazy and chaotic, but it was laughing together, sharing stories, sharing motherhood. And that kind of community, that kind of village, makes motherhood feel more doable and more enjoyable. 

So go find your village, wherever it is, whatever it may look like, even if it's takes effort. Because doing motherhood all alone is not how it's meant to be done. We were made for community. We were made first for God, and second for each other. 


keep in touch! 


follow us in feedly    Follow on Bloglovin

5days post-op: gratitude

Today I thought instead of writing about all the things that are difficult I would write about all the blessings that have filled our hospital stay so far.

The first is very obvious to me every time I enter the unit we are staying in. "Med/Surg, Hematology, Oncology". Some of the other kiddos on this floor are recovering from surgery like Johnny, but a lot of them have cancer or blood infections. Yes, what we are going through with Johnny is very difficult right now. But it's only difficult right now. For the majority of Johnny's seven months here our life has been very normal. I even forget sometimes that he was born with this. This is not life threatening. I know there are kid here going through chemo. My mom was chatting today with a dad whose four year old son had a brain tumor, then went through radiation, and is now fighting an infection. I know there are families who spend A-LOT of time at the hospital. I know their lives are deeply affected by their children's illnesses, some of which are life threatening. All things considered, what we're going through is not that bad. 

Second: We have The Best Support System! Prayer, food, and boosts of morale.
 Family, friends, and people who have never even met Johnny are praying for him. He is on the prayer lists at several different churches. Even though Alex and I are stressed and don't like being here, we have a peace that pervades all we do. We have not had to worry about a single meal. We have eaten better here the last five days than we do at home! And all sorts of sweets and treats keep making their way to our room. As well as some fun things for Johnny to play with! 

Social media sometimes gets a bad rap for being impersonal and replacing more meaningful communications. But in a situation like this it is a life saver. During all three of our hospital stays with Johnny one of our favorite things to do has been at the end of the day to read to each other all the encouraging comments and messages that people have sent us. We've had so many people come to visit and cheer us up.  And it is such a comfort to know that our family is close by and we can call on them for anything. It's especially nice to have my mom and my sister come hold Johnny so I can shower, or pump. (Grrrr....pumping)

Thirdly, I'm so grateful that Johnny has had some relief from his gas pain with this NG tube. He slept through the night last night. Did you hear that? THROUGH THE NIGHT!! All three of us woke up feeling so refreshed. Johnny had at least an hour of happy awake time in the morning and it was so nice to see him playing with his toys. The day had some ups and downs. We're still just waiting for a really big fart or something to clear out his intestine. Also, due to an incident involving a new IV line, Johnny now hates every nurse and cries every time one of them comes into our room. But Johnny cheered up this evening and gave Alex and I a few big smiles tonight. That was the best part of my day! 

Yes Please. And Thank You

 I have learned a lot about accepting help from other people since Johnny has been born.  First there was the adjustment of having a baby.  Then having a baby with major medical issues. So many people reached out to us during those first weeks offering support in the form of prayers, food, company, and help around our house.  I didn't cook one meal until Johnny was two months old.   Little by little I have adjusted to having a little one around, but I'm not nearly the multi-tasker I used to be. The first meal I made after Johnny was born (a salad)  felt like a major accomplishment. And our bathroom only gets cleaned about once a month now. (And now you're not going to want to come over any more.)

Then there's being a home-owner and all the work that goes along with that.  Let's just say that with a little one who wakes up (almost) every time I put him down and a husband who works full time while going back to school there are a lot of things around here that get left un-done. Our neighbor mowed our lawn all summer, and is currently cleaning out our garden for the winter and making compost for us.  Taking care of our house is something I love to do and pride myself in. Not being able to keep up with all the things I'd like to do was very humbling.  I told Alex that we could have a beautiful yard, or a baby, but not both.....we've got a baby!

Then I broke my foot last month.   I am so grateful, because that could have been way worse than it was. I was only on crutches for five days before being able to put weight on my foot again. But for those five days life came to a stand still.  Having a baby and a broken foot meant sitting on the floor all day with diapers, water and the laptop within reach while my friends and family did my grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning for me.

Round two in the hospital brought on another wave of offers for meals and help with errands and other things. You'd think that by now I would have no problem saying "yes please!" But my initial reaction is still one of independence. I'll be fine. I don't need help. I'll figure something out.  Accepting help from other people is humbling, it's admitting deficiencies and lack of control.  And who wants to seem like they don't have things under control?  But if I am honest with myself I quickly come to the conclusion that I do need help. I am human. I can't do life by myself and I'm not supposed to.  I'm glad I don't need people to cook and clean for me all the time. But for the times that life has overwhelmed us, I'm glad we have great friends who have offered themselves up.  And  I am blessed with a marriage and friendships that fulfill the needs of everyday life; love, rest, intimacy, community, support.

So, if you are one of the many people who have brought us meals, visited us in the hospital, washed my dishes, cleaned my toilets, done my laundry, made trips to the grocery store, left treats on our porch, brought me a latte, and kept me company, THANK YOU!!! You have made life sweet when it otherwise would have been very bitter, and Alex and I have mentioned you in our prayers many times over.


We are home from the hospital! Johnny's catheter came out this morning and as soon as he was producing wet diapers we were free to go! The game plan from here on out is thus: for the next three weeks we will leave Johnny's bottom alone to heal.  Then we will have an appointment with his surgeon to learn how to dilate his rectum with special rods.  We will be dilating it for 3-4 weeks, gradually increasing the size of the rods, and when our surgeon deems the dilation to be going well we can schedule the third and final surgery. Two down, one to go.

Here are some pics from our last two days in the hospital.

Johnny was reunited with his dear Mr. Ducky who usually hangs from his car seat.

Tuesday evening Johnny was super grumpy but wouldn't go to sleep.  When Alex got to the hospital after work he sat with Johnny on his lap and he fell asleep within 5 minutes.  Sometimes I think Johnny needs both of us around before he will go to bed.

A visit from Grandma and Grandpa Shepperd

Johnny got a new toy from the ostomy nurse

He's a stoma buddy and we call him Stoma Stan

Johnny likes Stoma Stan.

Hopefully now that Johnny can pull Stoma Stan's bag he will stop pulling his own

We were able to use a stroller to go cruising around the hospital floor.