First, let me start this post by saying that I'm in a lot of pain. Like, a lot of pain. I'm lying on a heating pad and waiting for my pain pill to kick in as I type - and I DON'T take prescription pain meds. It's one of my (many) odd little quirks. What's causing my pain is yet to be determined. We think it's my kidney, but we're not even sure about that. I was in the ER (something else I never, ever do) until the wee hours of Friday morning after making a trip to Urgent Care (Thing I Never Do #3) Thursday evening. The general consensus is that I have a kidney stone, but I'm not so sure. Neither was the ER doc. Her initial diagnosis was a kidney stone, but the CT scan said 'no', so she diagnosed me with a urinary tract infection and sent me home with a bagful of high-powered drugs that don't jibe with a simple UTI. In any case, I have an appointment with a real, live urologist tomorrow morning, and I'm actually a little excited about this.
I said all of that to say this - I'm probably going to be a little less delicate than usual today. For that, I beg your forgiveness in advance. Unless, of course, it's funnier/better writing. In which case, I totally meant to do it.
My kids have been pretty great while I've been sick. As great as they can be at two and one, anyway. When I'm crying, my two-year-old will come and give me kisses and say "I love you too, Mommy." My one year old just climbs on me indiscriminately. They both demand to be fed and loved. The diapers still have to be changed, because shit still stinks. Which brings me to my point.
Although people told me this, it never sunk in until it happened to me. There are no sick days when you become Mommy. It doesn't matter how bad you feel. Your baby's needs, no matter how trivial they seem, come first.
Now, I really, REALLY don't want to trivialize non-parents. I don't. I remember many, many times that I went to work sick, did shit I didn't want to do when I didn't feel like it, and did it with as minimal complaint as possible. But there was the option. Nobody's actual existence depended on whether or not I showed up to work.* But with my kids, their lives depend on whether or not I take care of them, especially at their tender ages. They can't change the pissbags that hang around their waists. They can't fix their own food or give themselves their own baths. They can not take care of themselves. So it just doesn't matter if I have a rock trying to work its way out of my peehole. I have to take care of my babies. Kidneys be damned, I have to be Mommy.
*I fully recognize that some people have jobs where other peoples existence relies on them.
When I came home from the hospital with Katie, she was a preemie who had difficulties breastfeeding. I could not get her to latch for love nor money. Therefore, I ended up pumping every three hours around the clock, and then bottle-feeding her the products of said pumping. I was also having problems producing enough milk for her and she was not gaining weight, so I had to supplement with formula. Two bottle feedings every three hours. Plus pumping each breast. Every. Three. Hours. Every 24 hours. I was not sleeping (when did I have the damned time?) and my mental health was slipping, so after 9 weeks of this (NINE FUCKING WEEKS) my doctor patted me on the back and said, "That'll do, pig. That'll do." And I got to hang up the breast pump. Hallelujah.
During that period of time that I was pumping eight times a day, bottle feeding eight- to sixteen times a day, and not sleeping at all, I still had a one-and-a-half year old and a five-and-a-half year old who needed my attention, too. I couldn't say to them, "Oh, hey, yeah, I need you guys to go take care of yourselves until Mommy gets this shit straightened out and then I'll get back to being your mother." Sometimes I wish fervently I could put my kids on hold - particularly when I'm in the bathroom. But I couldn't, and I had to make do. My kids watched WAY more than the reccommended 2-hours-a-day of TV, and they didn't play outside or one-on-one with Mommy nearly enough. I was too busy sucking milk out of my boobs, and that pump is a bit cumbersome for use during Thomas The Tank Engine play. I have terrible guilt about it. But I did what I could, and I'm doing what I can now.
And that's the bottom line. There are times, as Moms, when all you can do is all you can do. Even not as a mom...All you can do is all you can do. Think about that for a second. Do what you can and what you have to, the rest will figure itself out.
If we did everything by the parenting books, we'd be perfect, our kids would never misbehave, we'd feed them perfectly prepared balanced meals every night, they'd never watch more than 1 hour of perfectly educational television a day, and we'd put therapists out of business. And really, who would want that? Personally, I'd die without guilty pleasure TV, fishsticks and mac&cheese, and therapy.