Who were you before you became a mother?
That’s a question that I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I think it’s important for us as mothers to not lose ourselves in the title. A lot of times we get so wrapped up in being everything to our children that we forget to take care of ourselves.
The act of self-care is not selfish.
I’m constantly telling myself that. It’s an internal battle that I’ve struggled with since the day my son was born. Before I became a mother, I was a nurturer. It has always been in my nature to want to help people. I’m super sensitive, I care too much and yes, if the commercial is sad enough, I’m probably going to tear up watching it.
This past week has been a real challenge for me because although I know that self-care is important and should be non-negotiable; my entire life now revolves around caring for my baby. We’re officially a full week post-op and Bub and I have been working hard to adjust to our new life. For those who aren’t aware, my son has a rare bleeding disorder called Hemophilia. There are different types, however my baby has severe type A. Having this disease means that his blood does not clot.
Prior to his surgery, we were going to his hospital’s treatment center 2-3 times a week so that he could be intravenously infused with the clotting factor that his blood does not produce naturally. It was a grueling process because his veins are very small, and his nurses always had a hard time accessing them. Each visit he had to be poked at least three times before they were able to draw blood. Scar tissue began to build up on his skin and his veins started to collapse. Since we were having so many complications, we made the decision to have a port placed in his chest. The port was implanted under his skin and is connected to the vein closest to his heart. Once it is healed, I will be able to access it by only poking him once with a needle and giving him his medicine through a catheter. It will save a lot of time, avoid a lot of pain and most importantly, save my baby’s veins. It takes about two weeks for the port site to fully heal. In the meantime, my son still needs his medicine, so I’ve been giving it to him through a picc line that was surgically placed in his arm.
Last week his nurses trained me on how to use it. There are a lot of intricate steps involved and it requires a lot of patience. The first time I had to infuse my son alone I was intimidated as hell. I was scared that I was going to mess up, I didn’t want to overmedicate my child, my anxiety kicked up about ten notches, I felt nauseous… it was a mess. He needed his medicine though. So, I put my big girl panties on, said a prayer and got it done. Now I feel so much more confident. I’m thankful that I’m able to do this for my son and I can tell that he’s way more comfortable having me do it as opposed to a nurse that he’s not familiar with. This is our life for now. Every twelve hours I sit him in his highchair, we get the medicine ready, we sing songs, he bravely pokes his arm out and we infuse.
All mothers are guilty of taking on too much at some point and feeling depleted. Some days I’m still amazed that God not only entrusted me to be a mom, but a mom to a son that has special medical needs. I’m learning to trust the process and the journey. I’ve come to realize that although motherhood is full of endless responsibilities and sacrifices, I can’t possibly be the mother that I need to be for my son if I’m not taking care of myself.. and self-care isn’t always pretty. It’d be great if I could fit a glamorous trip to the spa or the hair salon into my everyday schedule but I cant.. so, I compromise.
Yesterday’s self-care activity consisted of me leaving my son with my mom for a couple of hours, going to Chick-fil-A and sitting in the parking lot eating my chicken sandwich with my feet kicked up and music blasting. It felt amazing and I was unbothered.
Despite everything that he’s gone through, my son is a happy baby. His energy is infectious, his smile is contagious, and his bravery is unmatched. I’ll continue to wear my ‘Nurse Mommy’ title proudly for him daily, but I’ve got to remember to show Jo; the nurturing girl that cries at sad commercials some love too.