Born @ 27 weeks
2lbs 7oz

Friday, October 11, 2013

Birthday Season

There are infinite reasons why I love this time of year....

One of which, is 'Birthday Season' (Not just Nash's birthday, either).

Four years ago, as a first time, expecting Momma, someone randomly made the comment, "Be sure you have a playgroup!"

"Playgroup?" I thought. "Isn't that where Mom's throw their kids in the back yard, while they sip wine and complain about changing diapers?"

Isn't that what all this 'Playgroup' business is about? (Ps. It's not the drinking wine that I was opposed to). It just sounded very contrived or forced to me. I have my friends, what's the point?

Nevertheless, my curiosity got the best of me. I calculated that I knew of a few Moms that were having their first babies in the fall of 2009 and decided to tryout this Playgroup movement.

I didn't 'select' our group, like I was picking the winning kickball team. I didn't give a lot of thought to the WHO and the HOW, I simply identified a few Moms (most of which were only acquaintances or I didn't know at all) that I knew were as 'large' (correction: pregnant. No one was as 'large' as I was. Nash was born weighing TEN pounds) as I was at the time.

To start, I reached out to my old roommate from San Francisco. Her sister lived in Charlotte and I had met her a few times.

I approached an old friend of mine, also pregnant with her first. (I was afraid at first she would laugh at me. This did not seem like my kind of thing).  She was in!

I invited a girlfriend of my husband, who at the time I didn't know well at all, but knew I liked everything I knew...

Then, there there was this cute little pregnant Mom I met in my baby CPR class at the hospital. She seemed like a good addition. :)

It snowballed from there.

One Mom invited another. Someone invited their neighbor. One Mom invited a Mom that was giving birth in the hospital when they were.

FOUR years later, we have the most random playgroup - a bounty of Moms that have morphed into some of my dearest friends.  I could call at the drop of a hat for ANYTHING and I truly believe they would be some of the the first responders. ("First Responder" - I think I may be talking in the fireman speak that I live every day with my boys).

A few weeks later after Nash, the last to arrive, eight terrified and insecure (but good) Moms met for their very first playgroup....

Starting with Kissing Kennedy (with hat) and going counter clockwise: Julia Uher, Nash Richter, Easton Miller, & Katherine Rawald. (Missing: Declan O'Connor because he started crying and his mommy FLED after meeting us for the first time. Later, we learned this would happen to all of us at least once if not a zillion times!!!) :)

Fast forward to fast friends. Our playgroup became a sanctuary to talk about projectile poop, vomit, hitting, biting and mostly surviving (coupled with a little wine but a lot of laughs along the way).

Man, and we were SO stressed with ONE baby. It is laughable now to think back.

That said, we met regularly and our kinship became a faithful friendship.

Nash's first birthday - From left: Sharon & Sam Clode, Katie & Declan O'Connor, Missy & Easton Miller, Paige & Penn Whitney, Sarah & Katherine Rawald, Candace & the French Nash. (missing: Muffin & Kennedy, Cameron & Julia)

From our random playgroup, I found a Mom to do a Nanny Share to allow me to go back to work. 
Sweet Julia and Nash.... Yes. He was a meatball.

For strangers, we shared so many intimate details: "How often is Julia pooping?" to "How many ccs of breast milk should I be giving Sam? Why is Nash pushing all the little girls?"

Of course, coupled with the rejuvenating playdates, you have those that don't go as planned. 

Easton & Katherine and a newcomer. Wow.
And then you have this playdate:
Katie O'Conner & Declan, Cameron Uher & Julia, Melissa Miller & Easton (and Barclay before we knew him), Sarah Rawald & Katherine, Candace & Nash, Muffin & Kennedy.
This is the first time that I saw my playgroup after Shaw was born. He was still in the hospital and I was recovering from an emergency c-section. I remember seeing the emails fly about our standing playdate and after all we were going through, I really just wanted to be 'normal' - as much for Nash as I did for myself.

I remember asking Michael if he would go with me, in case I needed help lifting or carrying Nash. I think it was for emotional support as well. What would people say to me.

I saw Sharon and Sam getting out of the car. She took one look at our family, missing our newborn, and burst into tears. There just weren't words. She wanted to help. She hurt for us. But there just weren't words.

We walked slowly to the backyard, Nash pealing off to see his friends and one by one each person looked up at us, surprised that we were there. We were embraced by warm, long, telling hugs.... and then they let us be 'normal'. We didn't talk a lot about Shaw that day. We played. We watched our kids. We laughed (and screamed at them for hitting someone or trying to rip up a sprinkler). Whatever it was, it felt so good.

We disappeared again for months after that. Back to the hospital. Back to surviving. But our Playgroup stayed with us, providing meals, encouraging letters, even packing our home and moving us. I wonder if I ever really even said thank you for all that support? It meant THE WORLD to me - to my family.

That is the gift I can never repay.

And so with this 'Birthday Season' where we get to celebrate the birth of our first children every fall...
Thank you, dear, dear friends. It has been an honor to witness the growth of our families and friendship.

This was last weekend. You may not recognize a few, because we multiply... Anna & Katherine Rawald, Julia (missing Baby William) Shaw & Nash Richter and Sam (missing twin sisters, Hazel & Margret). That doesn't include the rest of our bunch!

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