I can’t speak any louder about this subject now more than ever. A friend and I were having lunch this past week and discussing (not gossiping) about how many mom’s we have come across who are not taking very good care of themselves. I’ve learned the hard way that ‘Mom’s Health Does Matter.’ Mother’s care for everyone else, yet seldom do they care enough for themselves.
Now I know there are mom’s out there who do take very good care of themselves and I’m not talking to you. I am talking to the mom’s who are trying to do it all. The mom with a business of her own, a career or a job. The mom with two or more children and a spouse with a full time job. I’m especially talking to the single mom who really has to do it all by no other choice. We run ourselves into the ground. We find ourselves taking care of everyone first and ourselves last. We ignore the fatigue or are told by our doctors that we do too much and just need to slow down. (If only we could!) I’ll tell you a story of someone I know well and maybe it will hit home…
Jane came from a family broken by a mother who took her own life at a young age. Her older brothers and father went astray after her mother’s sudden death. Jane was only 9 at the time and found she was more or less on her own now. As Jane grew up she got into some trouble but managed to get her life together – so it looked like. She married a wonderful man at age 26 after 5 years of really getting to know each other. They had their first child at 28 – a very, happy and healthy little girl. She was the twinkle in their eyes! As their little girl grew, Jane and her husband Bill considered having another child. Their first was such a joy, so why not.
Two years later, they tried for child number two. First they had the misfortune of a miscarriage – which proved challenging for Jane. She became persistent to conceive again and three months later, they did. It was only two months into the pregnancy that Jane found herself grieving a sudden death of a very close friend. The shock and trauma of such an event during a pregnancy sent Jane into a state of depression. She didn’t know how to handle being pregnant and being sad. This combination caused a pregnancy that was stressful on Jane’s body as well as a stressful delivery.
When their second child was being delivered, Jane just made it to the hospital. Their son, came out within minutes of getting there and he was furious about entering the world. He was bruised and stiffened for days after delivery as well as mom was tired and sore from the delivery. Even still, they were sent home healthy enough to leave.
Within the first weeks home, Jane knew this second child was much different than the first. He wasn’t happy, he cried all the time and his “spitting up” turned into projectile vomit by 7 wks old. After much insisting that something was seriously wrong, Jane & Bill had an ultrasound done with their son and found he had a blockage in his stomach and had to have emergency surgery to correct it. The doctors assured them that their child will be fine and after this surgery he’d be a happier child. Well, he was fine, but he was not happier. Their son was simply colic after that and colic for the whole first year or more. It is a blur to them now.
They walked and talked to each other during that time, but did not really communicate. Their marriage was straining, but no one was doing anything about it. Jane cared for the children without really caring for herself. There were notes of forgetting conversations but dismissing it as no big thing or sleep deprivation. It’s been five years since the second child was born. Three years ago Jane noticed more things about herself that concerned her. It began with not just forgetting things but forgetting where she was going while driving. Feeling itchy all over, hot during the night, moodiness, foggy brain and unable to concentrate. She knew something wasn’t right. After many blood tests and visits to the doctors, it was presumed that she had a thyroid problem. She took the doctors advice and started taking Synthroid to fix it. However, she never felt right and was always still tired and foggy headed.
Three years later, she was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, a blood cancer. Yup, you guessed it…Jane is me. Many of the symptoms are similar and who knows if I really do have a thyroid problem or not. We’ll wait and tackle that later. But I ignored many things over the years about myself. I went to doctors but no one was able to find anything wrong. I should’ve learned to be more of an advocate for my own health after the issues with my son’s early health scare but I didn’t. I just went on feeling not myself and doing my work and taking care of my family and stressing out about money and how we’re going to pay the bills and our future and everything else….
When really, how much control do we really have over this stuff anyway? As I lay here typing my memories with a body filled with chemo and achy beyond achy and fatigued beyond fatigue…I wonder how did I get here? I see my path in the past. I only know that my future path will be different. I’ve had to “let go” of a lot of things, ideals and pride. I am blessed to be cared for and I know things have a way of working out. It’s not going to be easy at all but I have seen it happen so far and I know everything will be fine in the end.
So I have to take a stand for all of the mom’s out there who are putting themselves last. I beg of you to put yourself first. When you need to rest – rest. When you need to pamper yourself – pamper yourself. When you need to read a book – go read a book. Change now before you realize it’s too late. I can tell you from experience – it’s simply not worth the price and it could happen to you.
I love all of you! Every woman, every mom, every grandmother. Take care of yourself first and everything else will fall into place.