Author's Note: I have held on to this post for several weeks because it mentions our lost little love and - well - I couldn't quite revisit that nightmare at the moment.
However, hearing that a fellow autism blogger had attempted a murder-suicide of herself and her teenaged autistic daughter made this seem like the appropriate moment.
You see, we aren't invincible, nor should we expect anyone to be. This idea of the martyr mother who goes days without sleep, years without having a physical, and who endures anything and everything for her children needs to end. This creates fragile, unhealthy women. This creates women who reach that breaking point of which I spoke yesterday.
Instead, we need to create a system in which mothers are encouraged to care for themselves and support is in place for them to do just that. It's vital. Lives depend on it.
Don't believe me? Read below. When I lost my baby and found myself in the midst of a medical emergency - one which I was told could be potentially life-threatening - I was faced with this same scenario. Do I relinquish control of the world in which I oversee to get myself back to health, or do I risk it? Luckily I wasn't in a position to disagree. I physically could barely move. I had to rely on help.
I had to acknowledge my own fragility. The following applies to a medical situation, but it could just as easily apply to mental health. Do not neglect yourself. Take care of you.
You are not invincible.
Nine weeks ago this past Tuesday, I went into a doctor's appointment with my body still thinking I was very much pregnant. Unlike with my c-section with Jack in which my body was approaching full-term and I had been in labor for a while prior, this surgery was an abrupt change from the state my body was maintaining. My body was operating under the assumption that I was still pregnant, not realizing that my sweet baby had passed away. When I had surgery just a day later, it sent my body into shock and left it wondering what the hell was going on.
I went within an hour to thinking I had a healthy pregnancy to finding out that I needed surgery the next morning to prevent hemmorhaging.
As a result, my body was left reeling from the change. I spent days in pain before I had the courage to say that I didn't deserve to suffer - and at which point a prescription was written for better pain medication. I tried to push myself, only to find my body fighting back.
It was a stark realization - this newfound frailty of mine. I was not used to being the one laid up and unable to care for oneself. Being a special needs mama, I am so used to taking care of everyone else; I'm not used to being the one who needs care. For the first time in a couple of decades, I went from being independent - a caretaker - to being wholly dependent on someone else to walk, to give me my medication, to bring me food, and to care for my child. As you might imagine, it was that last part - caring for my child - that was the most difficult to handle.
You see, since Jack was born I have been the one who does nearly everything. I feed him. I advocate. I changed diapers, cleaned up puke, and learned the fastest way to deal with a pee puddle on the floor. I take him to the myriad of doctors appointments, therapy sessions, and other activities we do all in the name of helping him make gains. I carry him when he cannot walk. I comfort him when he is scared. I anticipate his needs.
And I was not able to do so at that moment. I was struggling to keep myself going - both physically and mentally. When you have concerns for your own well-being, you begin to appreciate how fragile life truly can be.
It changed my perception. Truly, it did. For when you cannot care for someone else because you yourself are in poor health, you begin to realize just how vital your health is. When you are the shoulders that bear weight of another person, you cannot let those shoulders fall.
And yet, we neglect ourselves more than anyone else in our lives. Hell, our dog Mason goes for check-ups more often than I do.
So this I say unto you - do not fall into that deluded illusion that I did and believe that because you are a mom you are somehow invincible. Remember that you are just as fragile and just as worthy of care as your child or your spouse or your aging parent. Take that time to care for you. It sounds cliche, but I now know it to be true; you can only take care of others if you take care of yourself.
A lot of people depend on us mamas, so don't let yourselves get lost in the shuffle.