The last few weeks have been rough. Like, dragged through the mud, thought I was going to die, rough. Not just the kids giving me a hard time or being a bit tired. I’ll explain. This will be long winded but it has been necessary to process this properly and that takes time (and words).
On Monday morning, January 15th, I woke up with a small, slightly sore and red spot on my right breast, telling me that I had not fed Simon enough from that side overnight and I was starting to get mastitis. So, like the dozens (literally, dozens) of times before, I nursed from the right side throughout the day, hoping to head it off before it got any worse. By the end of the day, the spot was still there but the pain was gone and I had never developed flu symptoms so I figured I was done with it. I made supper and around 6:30 I was sitting with Mike and brushed my hand against the side of my left breast when I moved my arm. It was sore, which was odd because it was the opposite side. Then I realized that while I was feeding from the right side first all day, I had likely missed at least one feeding from the left, if Simon had nursed from it at all. I tend to have oversupply right until I wean and when I don’t empty enough, I get mastitis.
After folding some laundry around 7:00, I told Mike I was in rapid decline and by the kids’ bedtime, I was feeling like I had the flu. I got chills so badly I couldn’t hold still and decided a bath was a good idea. The bath was nice but I knew I wasn’t getting better yet. At 10:30 we decided I should probably go to the emergency room but after the bath, I was looking a bit better to Mike (no shaking after the bath) so he wasn’t certain. It took us until 11:30 to make a decision because on the one hand, I didn’t want to wait so long that things got worse but I didn’t want to make a fear based decision, either. A pretty conservative, wait and see friend, said she thought I should go in and we finally made it to the ER at 11:45. I didn’t have to wait long for triage and as soon as my blood pressure and temperature were taken, I puked. I have never had nausea with mastitis before so this was new. I got into a room and they immediately got me an IV with fluids. I threw up again at some point – the timeline is very fuzzy – and eventually the doctor came and ordered IV antibiotics.
Mike left the hospital around three in the morning after a few hours of sitting by me while I dozed, made woozy and fuzzy headed by the Gravol they gave me for the nausea. I slept off and on, waking up once an hour or so to have my vitals taken and in the morning, I was given another dose of IV antibiotics. After that, they gave me a prescription and Mike came to pick me up. I had an appetite and felt ten times better than I had the night before so I assumed this would be the end.
Mike took the day off on Tuesday and Wednesday through Thursday were spent resting as much as possible and feeling like I was operating at thirty percent of normal energy. I wasn’t sleeping well, was still in a lot of pain and the entire left side of my left breast was red and splotchy. At the end of the day Thursday, I knew things were not going well as I had still been running a fever off and on and the pain wasn’t getting any better, even though I’d had 48 hours of oral antibiotics.
Back to the emergency room I went, this time having Mike drop me off so he could go home and put the kids to bed. I waited two hours to be seen by the triage nurse and then another fifteen minutes to be given a bed. It was probably ten minutes after that when the doctor came in – the same doctor who I had seen on Monday night – and he quickly agreed that things were not improving fast enough so I started another dose of IV antibiotics.
I spent another night in the ER, this time having a terrible time falling asleep. I got two doses of antibiotics while I was there and noticed a huge difference in how I felt by the time I had to leave the next morning. Mike took another day off but I was amazed at how much better I felt. I took a shower just after I got home and while I was standing there waiting for my towel (my sweet husband put it in the dryer while I was showering), I felt the water on my skin and just felt alive. This was significant because I realized that I had not felt alive like this in a long time.
Most of Friday was spent really thinking about how I have not been taking care of myself very well. I have re-committed a few times this last year to loving myself, proving to myself and others that I am worth the time and effort it takes to renew my mind, body and spirit. But I have failed myself over and over and this was more proof of that. I get distracted by my phone, Facebook, time wasters, and don’t pay enough attention to what is going on each day. Missing a few feedings because I have a busy baby is one thing, but in this case, I was so preoccupied on Monday with what I saw as my failings (I even blogged about it) that I didn’t see it coming.
I know that God has a plan for me. That there is something He wants me to do. And as I thought about all of this that Friday, I realized that it’s going to start with putting a little bit of time, effort and maybe money into myself. Over the following weekend, we heard a speaker who talked about how two things in a Scripture that seem opposite can be true at the same time. It occurred to me that putting myself first and putting myself last can be true at the same time. I don’t need to see it as an all or nothing situation. Women who do this often pour themselves out into their families and neglect themselves or do the opposite and pour themselves into their own pursuits and neglect their families. I need to find the balance of the two. I’m going to start with the tangible things. Blogging more, because writing is and has always been important to me. Allowing myself to be creative again. Getting a pedicure or a massage now and then. Maybe getting a gym membership, just to have it in case I want to use it. Paying someone to come in and help me clean once a month or so. I told Mike all of this and he didn’t hesitate to agree that I’m worth it, even if I have to borrow from our savings account to do it. Why is it so hard for me to do these things for myself?
I wrote a few months ago about reinventing myself – this overwhelming desire to make myself new, different. Someone was talking about words for the year around New Years and the word renewal came back to me. Renewal is not reinvention. It is taking what is here and making it new, rather than trying to erase what is and make something else from scratch. God created me to be who I am, I just need to find who that is, buried somewhere underneath all these years of being a mama. I don’t want to be the mom who wrapped herself up so fully in her kids that she’s totally lost when they fly off on their own. I want to build into myself in positive ways now so that I have something left of that when I’m no longer spending every day in motherhood.
I am very aware that this will take effort on my part. It may require me to step outside of my comfort zone in the area of scheduling and routine, but I am also very aware that it will be worth it in the end.