After each of my girls was born, I was given plenty of advice. Some of the advice was really helpful. Some of it, although well intentioned, was not so useful for our particular situation. This was more so the case when Gia was born especially since I was sorting through so many of my own confusing emotions at the time.
One piece of advice has come to mind lately, the advice given to me by a pediatric nurse late one night when Gia was just over a month old. I was scared, insecure of my new role as a mom to a medically-fragile child with special needs. I felt lost, alone, and defeated.
I certainly didn’t feel up to any challenge, especially since the night before we had taken her to the ER because I couldn’t keep up with her feeding-tube schedule, exclusively pumping breast milk for her, appointments, mothering a needy three-year-old and the vomiting. The week prior, Gia had just left the hospital and there it all seemed so easy. But that next week my husband had gone on a pre-planned fishing trip, my sister had come to help and things slowly fell apart. Gia couldn’t keep anything down, the new surgical feeding tube scared me, I was afraid of infections, pulling it out, not being able to replace it. After vomiting non-stop for a day and seeing the worried reaction from a home health nurse, we took her to the ER. Exhausted, I even forgot to bring pumped milk, and several necessary supplies in order to actually feed her. After an agonizingly long wait, she was re-admitted to the pediatric floor. I was, quite honestly, relieved but pretty guilt-ridden. Deep down, I knew I should be able to handle this situation and failed miserably.
The next day when I visited Gia, the admitting nurse was there. She was blunt. With out hesitation she told me: “last night I saw an exhausted mother at the end of her rope.” It was true and I felt instantly guilty. As tears weld up in my eyes I just nodded my head like a punished child. Perhaps trying to soften the harsh reality, she told me it was OK. This is just part of being a mom to a special needs kid. It’s OK to have a good cry, to vent, to lock the bathroom door and breakdown, but then after I stop feeling sorry for myself, put the “Big Girl Panties” back on and enjoy my life.
In the last month, somewhere in the midst of this joyous holiday season, I’ve taken off those panties several times. Perhaps it was the extra stress of holidays, the end of the year appointments, the increasingly messy house, my husbands new work schedule, car troubles, the constant barrage of beautiful holiday cards filled with images of typical children, health issues, or simply my own doctor’s appointment filled with news I didn’t want to hear. Whatever the reasons, the Big Girl Panties disappeared and on went my Little Girl Underroos. I was snappy with my husband, distant with my kids, vented to friends, and even cried in the shower a few times. I paraded around in those Little Girl Underoos many days, throwing myself a big pity-party because, heck, I wanted to just crawl under a rock for a while.
Eventually, I started noticing those Underroos sure didn’t feel as comfortable as I remembered, a bit too tight and constraining on my mommy derrière. I even started to feel a little ridiculous that I had thought they were so great. So in the end, I took them off in favor of something much better. I slipped back on those Big Girl Panties not because I had to and it was the right thing to moral do, but because I wanted to.
My family isn’t perfect and neither am I. Certainly I don’t have much I should be complaining about either, but for some reason once in a while I just need to do this. There is nothing like sulking around for a week in Little Girl Underroos to realize life sure does seem a whole lot better without a wedgie from tight panties. It’s my ‘kick-in-the butt’ way of reminding me how grateful, and just darn lucky, I really am.
May you have a healthy, happy, and very grateful New Year.