Reaching Out With An Actual Helping Hand

Accepting The Offer Of A Helping Hand

A casual friendship becomes a most moving gesture

A couple of years before Anne Rieman got pregnant, she somewhat unexpectedly met one of her colleague’s wives, a woman named Natalie. “She was a huge food blogger and I commented on one of her pictures,” Rieman recalls, “and she responded, Hey, it’s delicious, why don’t you come have lunch with me?”

So Rieman did, and the pair started meeting for casual lunches or dinners every few months. Then Rieman unexpectedly became pregnant, and didn’t realize it until after the baby’s father had broken up with her—via text message, of all things. Rieman decided to keep the baby, but she wasn’t at all sure how she was going to make it through the pregnancy and into the early months of motherhood alone.

“It felt sort of like someone telling me they’re Batman”

Rieman and Natalie’s friendship had been fairly casual. But over lunch one day, it all came out. “I had already told her I was pregnant,” Rieman said, “and this one was, ‘Here’s what’s really going on, it’s not going great, I’m feeling really sad, I don’t know what’s going on with this guy, I don’t know how it’s going to work out.'” If Rieman’s admission was unexpectedly intimate, Natalie’s response rose to the occasion.

“She reached across the table and put her hand on mine and said, ‘I love you, I’m here for you.’ And I couldn’t believe it!” Rieman recalls. “It felt sort of like someone telling me they’re Batman. When I got in my car she leaned in the window and said, ‘You know, I’m really here for you if you need anything.'”

So Rieman did what so few of us do when offered a helping hand: She accepted it. “I went home and I really thought about it, just that one gesture, touching me and saying that at the same time made me feel just the way I wanted to feel when I was giving birth,” Rieman told Good Turns recently. “So maybe a month later or so, I texted her—because I was afraid of calling—and said, Would you consider coming to help me give birth? And she was like, oh my god, that would be amazing, I’m so flattered, are you sure you want me to help?”

Rieman did. “I texted her when I went into labor,” Rieman says. “She lives in Santa Monica, it’s like an hour and a half in traffic, and she was like, ‘Okay, yeah, I’ll be there.’ And she shows up with enough clothing for a few days. She said, ‘I called in, I told work I’m not coming in.’ And she’s fully there. Almost the entire time I’m in labor, which is about 23 hours, she’s rubbing my head with these same big cold hands that she reached across the table with. I have this one photo of her right after I gave birth where she’s still really tightly holding my hand and I’m holding my daughter. And I look at that picture and I think, I was right. This is exactly the person I needed to have with me.”

“That’s really all I needed,” Rieman said. “I just needed someone to be certain about me, and to go into this situation that I didn’t know anything about and be certain and to remember it with me.” We’ll remember that helping hand as well. And we’re certain that if Rieman has the grace to accept an offer of help in the way she did, that she and her baby will be just fine.

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