Yes, you read that title correctly… Despite 2020 being the utter dumpster fire that it was, there are a few things that happened amidst the pandemic and political chaos that I am ever grateful for. In a year that was extremely challenging for me, and I’m sure for you too, it’s extra important to take a pause, reflect and process all of the emotions that came up this year. Instead of being weighed down by all the things that didn’t go right, here’s a list of five things that sparked joy for me in 2020:
When the pandemic shut down Indianapolis in mid-March, I was 7 months pregnant, living with my in-laws while our house was being gutted, and trying to juggle working from home while also mom-ing with my 3-year-old 24/7 due to her preschool shutting down. As the stress became overwhelming, I made a routine of spending time outside alone, every single day. Most of the time this just consisted of a 1-mile walk around my in-laws’ neighborhood, but now and then I’d visit one of Indianapolis’ many parks for a hike and nature therapy. I am forever grateful for the healing powers provided by nature.
My Local Buy Nothing Project
The Buy Nothing Project is a national movement of hyper-local gift economies facilitated by Facebook groups. The website describes one of the missions as: “We believe in abundance, we give, we ask, we share, we lend and we express gratitude.” The group is a place for neighbors to “give” items they no longer need and “ask” for items they need—all for free. This movement has brought so many amazing things into our house, like a baby doll stroller for my toddler, tools for my husband, PJs for my infant. But the part that I love the most is the sense of community it creates. For Christmas, I wanted to make a vegan gingerbread bundt cake, but after two trips to the grocery, I couldn’t find molasses anywhere. Within five minutes of posting in my Buy Nothing group, I had over five neighbors offer me the half cup of molasses my recipe called for. And within an hour, molasses delivered to me on my front porch. I am forever grateful for the network of neighbors I’ve gained from BNP.
Virtual Game Nights
99% of the time, I’d classify myself as an introvert. But, I can’t deny the positive mood boost I get from socializing with the people I love. Since my nuclear family has taken isolating very seriously throughout this pandemic, I needed to get a little creative with how to socialize. Virtual games like jackbox.tv (Drawful and Quiplash are my personal favorites) and euchre apps while zooming with my friends and family helped bring laughter back into my house! I am forever grateful for the technology that allowed me to virtually hang out with my friends and bring a semblance of normalcy during this weird time.
The Labor and Delivery Team at Methodist Hospital
Being pregnant during a pandemic was rough. I’m already an anxious person, but throw in all the unknowns of COVID-19 and how that would affect my delivery seemed crippling at times. I’ll never forget the stomach ache I felt after hearing about women in New York City delivering their babies alone, without their support partners. Many nights I laid awake in bed trying to process the idea that if I tested positive for coronavirus, I’d have to quarantine away from my newborn baby—that those precious first moments of his life, would be spent away from me. When I went into labor at the end of May, my anxiety was instantly put at ease thanks to the amazing nurses and doctors of Methodist’s Labor and Delivery department. Aside from a few minor changes, like my husband having to wear a mask the whole time, staff wearing a little more PPE than normal, and family not being allowed to come to the hospital, I wouldn’t have known I was having a baby during a pandemic. And to be completely honest, my three days in the hospital for my son’s birth were some of the only days since March that I was able to relax and not be overwhelmed by the pandemic. I am forever grateful to my nurses and OB for helping me bring my son, a healthy, ray of sunshine into a world that previously seemed so dark.
Perhaps the greatest MVP of my 2020 experience was my antidepressants. As my son grew older, my mental health began to rapidly decline. With my firstborn, I went through a “normal” amount of baby blues while adjusting to my new life as a mother, but this time around I was going through something I’d never experienced before. I kept thinking this is normal, suck it up, that this is just what it feels like to be exhausted while caring for a newborn and a toddler… But, after talking with my husband, therapist, best friends and fellow Indianapolis Moms writers, I realized I was suffering from postpartum depression. While it took some time to accept this diagnosis, and get over the ridiculous stigma attached to depression, going on antidepressants was the best decision I made in 2020. I am forever grateful for the community of supporters who rallied behind me, allowed me to vent without judgment and ultimately gave me the courage to seek the extra help I so desperately needed.
Now that we’re officially in 2021, I know things aren’t going to magically get better with the snap of a finger. There’s still a lot of work to do to make this world a healthier, more equitable, thriving atmosphere, but I’m confident we’ll only go up from here. Cheers to the new year!