You came to visit me on day one.
Sitting in my Johnny shirt in that hospital recovery room, my bare ass upon a blue blood-soaked maternity pad, I quickly pulled up the starchy bed sheet up to cover myself, as you let yourself in.
My nipples were on fire and I was sweating in weird places. I’d showered just a couple hours ago, but I now notice I’d missed scrubbing a place on my arm where my newborn shat on my arm at birth with her tarry black birth poo.
In you walked with your curled hair, cute ballet flats and wearing a lipstick that matched your sundress. You had a David’s Tea in hand, with your name scribbled on its top.
In your other hand you brought a gift for the baby, which you promptly dropped at the door as you rushed over to hug me, placing your tea beside my hospital grade Red Rose, only lukewarm the moment it was delivered ten hours prior.
The bed groaned as I elevated it to see you, and I ever so carefully scooted my bum forward two inches to be out of the wet. You were now hugging my husband, and saw her tiny face for the first time, enveloped in her hospital straightjacket.
You stayed for the right amount of time, and said you’d check in again later to see about coming back tomorrow. I watched you go, as you and your freedom closed the door.
Whether it was the exhaustion or the fog, I couldn’t recall anything that you’d actually said during your visit. My husband gave me his best furrowed brow and told me to lay back and rest, and that, of course, we’d been talking about the baby.
That I’d been talking about the baby.
Right. The baby. Of course.
I summoned him to bring her to me and placed her on my cracking left nipple, and tried, as the nurse told me, to get “the perfect latch” for the ninth toe-curling time.
Yet now, all I could think about was your shoes. Your shiny hair and your nail polish.
Two days ago, those things were not so remarkable. Two days ago, I was a larger version of you. But lying here in this bed, your shoes divided us. My baby divided us, too, sure. But your shoes remained on my mind.
Just as soon as I’d fed the baby, my nurse came in and reminded me I was laying in a pool of stale uterine lining, and it snapped me back to my reality. She replaced the pad and let me know I had more visitors waiting in the wings of the hallway that she could let in just as soon as she finished my fundal check.
Fuuuuckkkkin’ fundal checks. Yet another thing your cute shoes didn’t have to put up with.
In the weeks that followed you continued to check in with me. Food was brought and you snuggled my baby so I could shower.
My phone would buzz just the very moment I tried to lay the baby down for a nap, and it would be you, just saying hello.
Sometimes I forgot to answer, and then when I did, it wasn’t to say much. For suddenly, our lives seemed undeniably changed. Undeniably different.
I felt so many things.
Yet I wouldn’t know what to say when you’d invite me out on a Friday night with the girls. I couldn’t go, that’s all I knew.
And not being able to go was such a mix of emotions. It was feeling trapped, feeling sad, feeling alone. Though I was happier than I’d ever been, I was also lonelier than I’d ever been. Emotions are so rarely one-dimensional.
And that’s the part the prenatal classes didn’t discuss.
They didn’t talk about how I’d miss what I’d been, who I’d been. There was now a part of myself that felt alone on an island, not understanding how I could blend the seemingly distant person I once was with the person I now had to be.
Somehow, despite me, you kept calling. You kept visiting. And now that the haze has lifted, I can say with clarity that I’m grateful to you for it.
Because even though I couldn’t join you guys, like ever, you kept me connected anyway. I wasn’t totally swept out to sea.
You kept trying.
That, is what a good friend does postpartum. I needed you hitting up my phone every day with the spontaneity of your childless life, your life mirroring the soap operas I’d grown accustomed to watching, though it made me sometimes feel jealous or sad. Though it sometimes reminded me how different our lives had become, I still needed you to reach out, to remind me I was still very much entitled to revisiting the life I’d had before my baby, from time to time, again, as I figured out a balance.
Cheerio crumbs come and go, but good friendships endure – you’ve taught me, in turn, how to be a good friend, too.
Thanks for not giving up on me. Thanks for trying.