I’m not good at asking for help, I never have been. Back to childhood, I would say “NO, I GOT IT!” even if I really didn’t. Being 5′ tall, I’ve learned how to use counters, tables, chairs, anything that would make me a little taller to reach whatever I needed to reach, I would rarely ask for help.
Going through heart surgery, moves, job changes or loss, my divorce, I never really asked for help. If someone really pushed, I might say; “If you’re going to do or get *insert activity or food item here* and don’t mind, please do or get me the same. If it’s no bother, please. You totally don’t have to…” This past year, I have realized what a weakness not allowing myself to be a little weak or vulnerable really is.
The staff at Seattle Children’s was amazing in every way. And oddly enough they became our surrogate family while Luna Bell was in the hospital. They were the only people I really saw for the first 6 weeks of her life. I think I felt comfortable talking to the nurses and doctors about our concerns and fears and even the tiny improvements Luna Bell was making, because this was their job. They were getting paid to take care of our girl, they were getting paid for the time that they listened to us talk and somehow I didn’t feel guilty about asking a million questions or verbalizing the fear that I was feeling when it came to my little girl.
When friends would text me and ask how things were going, I would try to keep my answers as light as possible. “She’s doing pretty good. Still having some issues with her breathing, but she’s growing and doing ok.” For whatever reason, I had been tight lipped when it came to telling anyone while I was pregnant that we suspected that she was going to have some problems. I told my mom and dad, Kevin’s mom and a couple of co workers since I had so many doctors appointments at the end. So anything that was happening was kind of a surprise to everyone. Part of me now wishes that I had confided in a few close friends, that I had leaned on them for encouragement and support a little so that Kevin wasn’t taking on the full load of dealing with his own feelings on the upcoming birth of our daughter and the unknown path that lay before us, and supporting me as well. I wish that I was the person who was able to send up a flare and ask for help. But for whatever reason, I just have a block when it comes to sharing a struggle and asking for help.
Over the months that Luna Bell was in the hospital there were moments when all I wanted was my best friends, a bottle of wine, and to laugh harder than I had in months. I wanted to be silly, free, and to forget for just a moment that my daughter was struggling to grow and breath. And now that she is home, there are still moments that I would love to just have a day to relax, do some self care, and blow off some steam. But there is that part of me that stops me-the part that doesn’t want to leave my daughter when I could actually be spending time with her. The part that doesn’t want to ask Kevin to stay with her when he takes care of her all day during the week, and part of me that is too afraid to ask for a friend or another mom to give up time with her family to go have a drink and commiserate about how tough it is to be a working mom, partner, and woman or just talk about pop culture, catch up on the latest gossip and laugh.
I’ve always been introverted, but over the past few years, leaving my solid crew of friends in Portland and struggling to find new friends to spend time with in Seattle, it’s been a little tough. This is not to say that I haven’t made friends here that I really cherish, but when you have a really tight crew that have been through everything together and then they aren’t around-it’s tough. I left Portland, a marriage, started a new, unconventional relationship and then miraculously got pregnant. All things that have really changed my life; the way I’m able to travel easily or not, the ability to go out on a Saturday night at a moments notice or out for happy hour after work, and the freedom to do whatever I want whenever. I wouldn’t change a thing, I just wish there was a road map, an event planner, something to help new moms navigate learn how to not lose themselves while still being everything and everyone to a tiny little person. And why is it so hard to make friends easily after a certain age?
Through all of this rambling, and thank you for hanging on here with me, the one thing I’m trying to get to is this:
How do I ask for help?
How, after nearly 46 years of “ No! I got this!” do I finally learn to ask for help? And not even for help necessarily. How do I express that I need a friend? How do I ask someone to take out an hour or two to go to dinner, get our nails done, have coffee or a drink. Why is this so goddamn hard for me? I know if my closest friends were geographically closer, that they would be there for me as much as possible, but still, in the darkest days of Luna Bell’s hospital stay, the most I could muster was a text asking for good thoughts, positive, healing juju when things were tough or she was getting ready to go through another transition.
As Luna Bell’s first birthday gets closer, the emotions that I was feeling last year and through our adventure in the NICU are starting to formulate and erupt on a daily basis. I can barely talk to people about her without getting emotional because we have come so far, but the realities of the past year are still so fresh. I look back on the moments that defined it and wish that I would have held up the white flag once or twice and said “HELP!”