Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

The kindness of neighbors

I haven't had anything even approaching decent night's sleep in two weeks now, and given the chance (odd as it would be), I would probably pay upwards of $1000 to secure a night of unbroken rest. Sterling has figured out how to cry, loudly, and we've entered that crying-all-the-time phase of newborndom. Meanwhile, my nipples are so sore that I cry every time he latches on (we are working on fixing this but there is no instant cure).

Jeremy sometimes gets after me about having a hard time accepting help from others. It's true. I do have a hard time. I'm feeling down today and I'd like to catalog all the help I have accepted in the last two weeks, for lo, it has been considerable.

When we moved to Sharjah, the extent of baby gear that we owned consisted of one (1) battered and well traveled portacrib that Magdalena slept in for the first few months we lived here. Thanks to friends and neighbors, we are now fully outfitted with all the baby gear we need, and more. These are not tattered hand-me-downs, either - they are really good quality and well cared for items which, in most cases, are nicer than anything we ever purchased for the girls way back when. On one particular night a few months ago, my across-the-street neighbor basically cleaned out her baby gear storage and we had a procession of me, her, and the kids carrying things from her house to ours. We are so blessed.

In the almost two weeks since Sterling was born, we have had food brought to our house almost every single day. We have never been so well taken care of after the birth of a baby. And since our neighbors are from all over the place, we've had quite the range of ethnic cuisine to sample. I'm especially looking forward to the lamb dinner that my Egyptian classmate is bringing us tonight. In the meantime, there are Greek lasagna leftovers for lunch.

(Now that I think about it, we actually had two people bring us dinner before the baby was born, during what ended up being my last week of pregnancy. This is a brilliant idea for service and I think it should be perpetuated.)

I was, and continue to be, so blessed by the generosity of friends and neighbors here. There is something to be said for living in a place where almost nobody has family nearby, because we really fill in for each other. Nobody has a sister across town to borrow hand-me-downs from, or a MIL to come over at the drop of a hat to cook dinner on a rough day. So friends and neighbors do those things instead.

Or even semi-strangers - yesterday I was at our local Carrefour, which is located right across the street from the hospital where Sterling was born. In the checkout line, I looked back and saw three nurses from the recovery unit. They came and admired the baby and then, without even asking, they helped me outside with my groceries on their way back to the hospital. They don't hardly know me from the other dozens of women who have babies, stay a day or two in their unit, and then move on. But they took the time to say hi and help me out with a small need that they could see right then, in that moment.

Also at Carrefour, I saw another neighbor who happens to be a lactation counselor. We had a quick chat about my soreness problems. Before the day was out, she had dropped off a few items of helpful breastfeeding literature and videos for me to peruse.

So even though I am more than 12,000 kilometers away from my actual family, fear not: we are in good hands here in Sharjah. And I'm working on accepting the kindness of neighbors.

October 11th, outsourced