February 5, 2018 by Sarah
I never thought I’d be so sad about not having seaweed soup. Growing up, I didn’t really like the Korean soup that much, my heart would sink a little bit whenever it was on the table. The weeks after I had my first baby, though, it was totally different. Meeyukgook, seaweed soup, is the ultimate when you’re postpartum. The beef broth warms up your body and the seaweed really amps up your milk supply. My mom was there right when Gianna was born, and she was ready with a huge pot of hot meeyukgook right when I got home. And I had it along with rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, for weeks. It was only until about a month that I started to get a little sick of it. It was the same with Caleb, but with Eliza, my mom didn’t come until she was six weeks due to our house remodel. And man, I had an ache for meeyukguk. It surprised me how much I was sad not to have it. I realized recently that for me, it wasn’t just a postpartum recovery thing. It represented my mom, being right there with me. It was really hard not having her there right after having given birth to Eliza. When my body was recovering from the intense act of childbirth and when I was exhausted to the bone. I really missed her presence, her taking care of me.
This time around, I also knew that my mom wasn’t going to be able to be with me right away. And having experienced it with Eliza, I started feeling emotional about it weeks before my due date. I mentioned it to a few friends who asked, and a few of my mom friends at church were quick to offer to bring some. Me being me though, I have a hard time accepting offers of food and visits and help. I wasn’t planning to follow up on it.
But then there I was, just a few days into having Lucia. My aunt who lives a few hours away, was there at our house when we returned from the hospital, with a big pot of meeyukguk. A few days after she left, we were sitting at my dining room table with my kids and their cousins scurrying around the house. And there’s a knock on my door, and it was Julia with another hot pot of meeyukguk. We had no idea she was coming, and I was literally on the last bowl of soup I had from my aunt. And close to when Julia’s pot was running out, she texted me letting me know that Jennie was ready to bring another pot over. And come she did, and it lasted me all the way until my mom came. And I was completely overwhelmed. I felt so taken care of. I was so thankful. The soup was comfort in a bowl. It meant everything to me.
Lucia is almost 6 weeks old now, and I’ve been overcome with gratitude with all the ways that our friends and family have loved on us and taken care of us. A bushel of apples, a box of the sweetest oranges you’ve ever had. Dimsum from the farmer’s market, rotisserie chicken and jalapeno hummus (I’m still craving spice!), spaghetti to last for days, my mother-in-law and father-in-law coming every single day to help with the kids. Then there are the new mom friends at Gianna’s school who have been asking to help, and one has been bringing my daughter home every day and the other brought a batch of the most flavorful chili I’ve ever tasted. Sweet friends who brought gifts, including the new Tartine Everyday cookbook for me! And the list goes on and on.
I need to stop and take time to think about these things that I am grateful for, especially because lately, there is a lot of hard. Lucia isn’t the dream baby I was really hoping for. She is pretty fussy, there are long stretches of trying to soothe her for naps and bedtime, only to have her wake up crying just a few minutes after falling asleep. Eliza is having a really hard time, and it breaks my heart. The crying isn’t just from Lucia these days. Yesterday, my two youngest were wailing for close to an hour, and I was trying really hard, but what I was doing wasn’t helping.
But all those things I am grateful for have come in the midst of all the hard. At the end of the day and the week, they all get tangled together, and it’s easy to miss all those signs of being taken care of. Which for me, are signs of God with us. Being aware of these signs helps bring me life and perspective and joy. It reorients me when I just want to give up or when I’m stuck in a really unpleasant mood.
These days, I’ve been trying to make it a habit every Saturday to reflect on what I am grateful for. Ideally it’s every day, but most days by 8pm my brain is just mush. And so, Saturdays is the rhythm I try for. Just once a week, to sit and be mindful of all those highlights and gems of my week, that may otherwise have gotten buried under memories of bright orange newborn poop explosions and major tantrums. In the past I’ve written down these things, and you could get really artsy and creative with it. But for me these days on Saturday, whenever I find a quiet moment, I go through the week and just think about all that I’m grateful for.
What have you been grateful for recently?