Friday, June 20, 2008

Do What You Gotta. Or Shut Up!

When I found out I was expecting triplets, it forced a huge lifestyle change in more ways than one! The first thing we had to do was to figure out how I would do bed rest for three months, with three young children to care for, in the summertime so I didn't even have school to help me!

Obviously, I would not be able to do it on my own. Hubby had to work. Oldest was 10, Second was 7 - old enough to help out some, but not too much. Third was 3, and having a LOT of trouble adjusting to this turn of events. A "spirited" (the PC word for difficult, or high-demand) child to begin with, he got worse! Poor thing, I am not criticizing him, I know it must have been hard. But it's just the way it was, and I'm setting the scene.

Thankfully my parents live in town. Mom swung into action. First they took the kids on a trip, the same week my bed rest started. While they were gone we tried to figure out how to manage. I have some really awesome friends who stepped up without even being asked, and offered to go above and beyond to help me. I won't even try to name them all here, because I don't want to leave anyone out! I'll just say, I have the best parents, and the best friends, in the universe!!

At first we tried having me lie on the couch during the day, with the kids peacefully playing together around me, bringing me bonbons and iced tea at my command, fluffing my pillows and showing the strong love and loyalty of brotherhood in action, me reading them stories and admiring their artwork (which would be on paper, not the wall), and helping them build miniature lego creations. We would sit quietly together and chat about life and eat snacks and.....Photobucket

HA!! Photobucket

No, really. laugh

Well - it was a nice thought, anyway. It lasted about half a day, when poor little Third - and I know this was innocent - jumped on my stomach as I read him a story. Then, when reminded about the babies, shouted "I DON'T CARE!!!!!!!"

And why should he care? His world was being turned upside down and he didn't like it one bit. He was THREE, for crying out loud. Something had to change! So the decision was made that plans would have to be made for the kids. Day care (optimistically called "Summer Day Camp" in the summertime) was a possibility but very expensive. Here's where my friends really stepped in. One handled the master schedule and arranged for Third to be taken care of - out of the house. I'm not going to go into how Third reacted to that, right now. Suffice to say, it was not pretty, and I spent most mornings in tears focused on the many ways I had failed my little boy. But that's a topic for another day, and he's over it now, anyway. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. And that, in a nutshell, is actually the point of this post!

I was a very selfish person growing up and for years after that. I worked hard to overcome that and think I did a pretty good job. I became a giver, not a taker. I actually enjoyed giving and helping others. I didn't see that the flip side of that was that I no longer liked to take or be helped. I figured because I had taken so much in the past I'd had my share, maybe. If I thought about it at all. Point is - I hadn't realized how much I would HATE being on the needy end. And I mean HATE! I found myself first trying to turn people down, then spent the rest of the time apologizing for needing help in the first place. Boy, did God have some lessons to teach me in humility. Luckily my friends were awesome enough to tell me to get over myself. So I bit my tongue and accepted the help. I was still not ready to ask for it, though. I vowed I would never get to that point.

Then the babies were born. I was up and around then, but had the NICU to visit and milk to produce. School was back in, so that helped a lot. Third was now in preschool, and we chose the all day program to give him some stability while we all got used to these babies.

Then they came home, all at once. Wow. I will save a lot of time and jump straight to the day, several weeks later, when they were all crying at once and there was absolutely no consoling them. They swung screaming in their swings - back and forth, back and forth. I tried everything I knew. Finally I turned up the music, and rocked back and forth in the glider, crying myself, singing at the top of my lungs some song I can't remember but it was about how awesome God is. At some point I could no longer sing and just cried...finally I said, God, you're going to have to do something. I didn't ask for these babies, and I can't take care of them. HELP ME!!!!!!!!!

Yes, I am still ashamed to admit I said such a thing. Just goes to show I still have a lot to learn about humility. Photobucket

At that moment Mom arrived, took one look and sent me to bed while she tended to the babies (who all stopped crying immediately, go figure). I felt much better after that, and in the evening I got a phone call.

It was C. I didn't know her, had never heard of her but somehow she had gotten my name. Her Bible Study group wanted to help me out, with stuff or babysitting or help around the house or whatever I needed. What's more, she had served as a volunteer coordinator with a local family when they had quads, still had the list of volunteers, and would be happy to do the same for me and even to find the volunteers!

I have to admit, while I was still reluctant to ask for help, my reluctance to accept it had flown out the window that day with my babies' cries.

So a few days later found me greeting a complete stranger at the front door. I showed her in, showed her where the basic supplies were, introduced her to the babies and went straight to bed.

Leaving a complete stranger in charge of my three infants.


And never felt guilty about it for one moment!

C's ladies came over for about the first year. C on Tuesday, L on Wednesday, S on Thursday. There were others, but those are the three that came regularly all year. There is no way I could ever put a price on what they did for me. There is no way I will ever be able to repay them. No words to even express exactly what they did for me. I can tell you one thing, though - they were sent by God Himself. They were angels!

Now to the meat of this post. There are people in this world who would rather whine and complain than do anything about it. There is a woman on a triplet site I visit who comes on almost daily to complain - of her lot in life, her lack of help, how she doesn't have time to visit her baby in the NICU - anything. Everything! She says she wants support, but no one is really sure what she wants - because any supportive comment or offer of advice or help is instantly met with negativity and turned away. People have offered to sit with her other children so she can go to the hospital. No - she can't have strangers watching her kids. Fine, she is told - I will come to the hospital and play with the kids in the waiting room so you can go in. No, that is still having strangers watch them. She is too broke for day care, but apparently not broke enough to qualify for aid. Or she doesn't have time to apply. Or they aren't returning her calls. There is always, ALWAYS an excuse. Maybe some of them are true, but when everything ends up with a negative, you have to wonder...

I can't fault anyone for not wanting to leave their kids with strangers... you think I haven't thought of all that COULD have happened if my helpers were bad people? But these women have even offered to get to know her and the kids so they won't be strangers anymore. Seems like a no brainer to me! But the biggest thing is - and this has always been a pet peeve of mine - don't complain if you are not willing to hear solutions! Don't ask questions if you don't want to hear an answer! There comes a time when it is time to STOP WHINING and START DOING. It's not rocket science! You gotta do what you gotta do - and if it means "lowering yourself" to accept help so that you can visit your SICK BABY in the hospital, that's what you do! If it's not, then you are just whining for the sake of whining, and I can't respect that. Especially if there are kids involved and suffering.

I'm thankful for the lessons in humility that I learned over the past few years. I pray that this mother will learn them before it's too late to help her baby.