The 3-month Transition

Looking back on this time when LOML lived in Germany and we were still at home in Phoenix, it doesn’t seem like it was too bad.  Day to day it was hard, but overall I think it wasn’t that bad.  I think time can help change your feelings a little bit.

Here’s the story…
Two weeks before Little E was born LOML noticed the job posting on his company intranet.  We talked about it on the drive over to my parent’s house for supper on Friday evening.  He asked me what I thought.  I told him the worst they could say is no and to apply.  He thought the same.  We both figured they would just say no and life would continue on as it had.

They didn’t say no.

A couple weeks after Little E was born we found out that LOML got the job.  The crazy part was that he was asked to attend a meeting in Germany a week after she was born.  Once they found out that he had a brand new baby they told him it wasn’t too important of a meeting and to stay home.  Relief, let me tell you.

He took off about a week of work when the baby was born.  I wish he would have been able to spend more time at home with me, Little E and Big Ive, but there were so many things that had to get done before he left, so many loose ends to tie up regarding our house.  And his work was busy busy so there was little time for him when he went back to work to be able to get these things done.  It seemed like the more we thought about it the bigger our to-do list became to get our house and household in order.  We had just almost-mostly completed a pretty major renovation on our house turning it from a duplex to a single family home.  There were a ton of little touch up things remaining–nothing major, all that was done.

Me, in my post-partem hormone haze, thought I could get the huge list done once LOML left.  I soon found out that single parenting with 2 babies (one a newborn!) while working full time does not allow one to get much done on one’s to-do list.

The last day with LOML was spectacular.  We started packing up his bags.  I think he had to go somewhere for a short errand.  Then we decided we needed to get lunch at Pita Jungle near our house.  So we ate on the patio.  It was a fabulous September Saturday.  Our good friend, and LOML’s number 1, JL, joined us after a while.  LOML called him while we were eating and invited him for a final farewell beer.  One beer turned into about 3 as they didn’t want to leave.  We chased Big Ive around the courtyard.  She had to visit all the other patrons.  She practically fell asleep in the chairs at one table.  Little E slept peacefully in her car seat almost the entire time.  It was a really really nice afternoon.  It was so good to spend that time chatting with JL.  He and his wife were some of the people we knew we would most miss.

We went home, finished packing, had LOML’s mentor kid from Neighborhood Ministries over for a little while and then headed to the airport.  LOML checked 3 bags.  The bag checker made some comment about how long LOML would be in Germany.  LOML said a long time.  It was funny.  We waited in the area just outside of security for as long as we could.  LOML had to hold each of his girls a bit.  It was all I could do to not cry.  We walked to the security line, got our last hugs and kisses and “I love you”s.  I’m positive I would have started balling right then, but Big Ive was not happy about something and was fussing like crazy.  Kids make you keep going.  They don’t allow you to wallow in your pity.  I would have liked a little bit of time with my thoughts, but it was nice to have her and the baby there to keep me going.

That was Saturday.  I spent Saturday night at my parent’s house and went to church with them in the morning.  I didn’t want to deal with my husband-less house that was looking more and more empty as we prepared to move.  I felt sick to my stomach and hardly ate anything on Sunday.  For two more weeks I could hardly eat.  I was not hungry at all.  Small breakfast in the morning venturing out to get lunch sometime after 2pm at work.  I’m usually an early lunch eater, like 11 to 11:30am.

I was really tired those first few weeks after LOML was gone.  I had a brand new baby and had started back to work full-time that Monday.  Little E was just 6 weeks old and did not take to the bottle very well.  She would try to make up for it all night long from me.  She would go back to sleep very easily, but woke numerous times a night to eat, sometimes 5 times.

Two weeks after starting back at work my company hosted their annual conference in Las Vegas.  My mom so graciously offered to come with and watch both kids while I worked down in the conference rooms.  She had a hard week watching 2 little ones in a hotel room.  I had a hard time trying to be a fully coherant worker with long days, still getting up lots of times to feed a baby, pumping milk throughout the day, etc.  I think I did a good job.  I had a good time that week.  I enjoy being the person that works in the background to get events to run.  I much prefer to do things like that than to be the person front and center on stage.

Work went well for me during this time.  My boss was extremely nice and understood what it was like to have a new baby.  I had let him know we would be moving to Germany when I was in the middle of my maternity leave.  He was supportive of our family’s decision and thought it would be a neat experience for us to live abroad (and a little crazy with 2 very young children).

My sister, Joy, was still our wonderful nanny during this time.  She usually spent most of the week at our house helping me with the kids before work, watching them while I was at work, and helping me with them after work.  I had all these plans to be able to work on the house when the kids went to bed.  It seemed like that never happened.  It was all I could do to get something on the table to eat for supper, get the kids to bed, check email, do a little work and get to bed, I was so exhausted.  Wash, rinse, repeat each day.

My parents were extremely helpful with my house and helping me pack and sort and purge all of our belongings.  Thankfully, we were renting our house furnished, so most of the big items and a lot of the kid items didn’t have to get boxed up and moved.  We tag-teamed working and taking care of babies.  Basically, someone was needed full time for the keeping of the kids.  In my mind I figured I could just put Little E to sleep (she slept most of the day and night at that time) and plop Big Ive in front of the TV or with some toys and work for a long time getting things done.  That never happened.

Through it all, with lots and lots and lots of help from family and friends, I got packed up and moved out by November 1 so our renters could move in.  There were a few late night work days that my dad and sister so graciously helped me with.  I cannot do enough to repay them.

One Saturday a number of friends of ours from the a2j (Apprenticeship to Jesus) community came over and cleaned up and landscaped my yard.  With all of the construction we had done, it was all torn up.  There were broken sprinkler valves that prevented me from turning the sprinklers on and getting winter grass growing.  There were nails and pieces of chicken wire and lots of other debris everywhere.  I found a magnetic rake at Home CheapDepot to pick up all the sharp metal scraps.  A new friend, MN, showed his impressive magnetic rake skills.  I don’t think anyone counted but there must have been about a million nails the stucco guys left lying around waiting for someone to step on.  (We had stepped on a number previous to this, even being careful and knowing it was like a minefield.  No injuries, just stuck in shoes.)  My goal that weekend was to just get everything cleaned up.  Our wonderful community was more awesome that I could have asked for and got all of my needs met with a bunch of wants, too.  Brick edging was put in place, dirt in backyard leveled off, chicken coop cleaned out, excess construction debris removed, trellis hung, roof drain pipe re-burried, mulch spread, grass seed sown, and on and on.

Living with my parents for the month of November was really good.  The only bad part was that it doubled my commute distance to work.  Having 2 more sets of hands to help with the girls was awesome.  I never felt like I couldn’t trust my kids to their care during the day or in the evenings when I had to get things done with the house.

My parents were nice enough to let me bring boxes and tubs and tubs and boxes and fill their house up so I could sort through things to pack up, ship over and donate.  Our junk filled their ‘formal’ dining room and part of Joy’s bedroom.  It was during this time that I got into a habit of going to bed about 11pm or later.  There was just no time during the day to get things done until the babies were both asleep.  I would doze off often before putting them to bed but would get a second wind after that.  My mom thought I was crazy until she realized I really couldn’t get much of anything done until they were both asleep.

The perk of having a baby wake up multiple times a night to eat, and having an internet equipped iPad, was that I could communicate with LOML through the night, during his day.  We had many conversations through email during the night.  We’d post to FB.  FB became the replacement for our typical demonstrative acts of love toward one another.  We only had written word (and the occasion Skype session) to communicate and work on our relationship.  Normally we’re not the kind of people that post to FB all those “I love you”s and “I miss you”s.  It became the way we would normally act in person.

It was difficult not having LOML around.  Having 2 small children made it easier in ways.  Kids have a schedule and routine that, while affected with LOML’s absence, mainly stayed unchanged.  This meant I had to keep a mostly normal schedule and my day-to-day life was mostly unchanged.  I didn’t have time to fall deep into my sadness and loneliness.  I didn’t have the space to pull away from everyone; there were 2 small humans dependent on me.

Emotionally, I felt pretty good.  My pregnancy with Little E was hard on me.  I wasn’t ready to be pregnant again so soon and that weighed heavily on me.  Looking back, I realized I was mildly depressed for most or all of the pregnancy.  This pregnancy was also hard on my body.  Big Ive was only 7 months old when I found out I was pregnant again.  I didn’t have enough time to fully heal and get as strong as I needed for another pregnancy.  Big Ive was c-section, and while I was medically fully healed, I felt like I could have used another 6-12 months before becoming pregnant again to be at my best.  I had terrible back pain (went to physical therapy for a bit to help).  Closer to the end I was in incredible pain just standing and walking.  And there aren’t many pain killers that are advisable to take during pregnancy.  Because of the physical pain and the depression I unconsciously pulled away from friends and family.  It wasn’t a purposeful decision on my part.  I didn’t like physical touch from people other than Big Ive.  She was the only one I like to physically touch.

Pulling away from people doesn’t help friendships.  Relationships require effort from both parties.  I felt like I had less friends during this time and that probably added to the depressive feelings.  Once Little E was born, we knew we were moving abroad, so you add the distance I created by pulling away, and the distance friends created when they found out we were going to leave and it became greater.  I made a lot of effort to try to regain ground on those friendships during this 3 month period.  When LOML and I talked before he left I told him I felt like I should apologize for pulling away.  I never did that, unfortunately.  This is a terrible place to do it, but all of my friends, I’m sorry for pulling away.  Please forgive me.  I know my friends that seemed to pull away once they knew we were moving didn’t do it purposefully, either.  They were instinctively putting up a wall to shield their emotions for the ensuing pain of a friend leaving.  I’m not dumb; it’s hard to maintain as close of a friendship from some 6000 miles and 8 time zones away.  I don’t blame anyone for doing that.  I have a feeling I would do something similar.

During this time I tried as hard as I could to visit with my close friends, have supper with them, spend time with them, call / email / FB with them more, do more purposefully.  Perhaps it was too little, too late, but I believe it was good.  It was good for me to do and good for them to receive.  Working full-time, having 2 babies, single-parenting it, packing up a house, etc. didn’t leave as much time as I would have liked to do these things.

Thankfully, right after Little E was born the depression lifted.  It felt like a pregnancy symptom; as soon as the pregnancy was ended it was gone.  I was blessed to not experience post partem depression (for the second time).  It was more like post partem healing for me.

Arriving in Germany…
See the next post about the flight and initial thoughts, emotions and feelings after landing in Germany.

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