Chronic illness and parental guilt
Tuesday, 30 October 2018 | Mummy and Little Me
Parenting with a chronic illness
Sometimes people tell me how lucky I am to be a stay at home mum, some even mention how easy I have it and others say they couldn’t do it but in reality my decision to be a stay at home mum wasn’t just based on wanting to be home with them all the time.
Back in my 20s I was diagnosed with a condition called Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). The diagnosis came after many years of false diagnosis, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, anxiety and many more in that same vein. I also had brain scans, MRI’s, blood tests and saw a variety of specialists before I was diagnosed.
One thing that was always a question mark was whether I could have children. Even if I was able to carry them would I be able to care for them.
I was advised to be medication free when I fell pregnant so once I had managed that I fell pregnant with Lincoln. In general pregnancy wasn’t too bad health wise and I managed to work full time up until 28 weeks using holiday to break my weeks up.
I gave birth without intervention at 40+3 to a healthy baby boy. Dealing with the night feeds and exhaustion of a new-born was tough and I suspect tougher than if I didn’t have chronic health problems but with your first you’re in a bubble of not knowing any different. That was my normal.
Parenting with a chronic illness is definitely hard work though. The school run along can be a test! I suffer badly with fatigue, palpitations and sore muscles and in the winter, I really feel the cold! Even queuing at the school gates is a challenge as I can’t stand still for too long.
One thing I have noticed is that after I had Lincoln people seemed to completely forget I had a health problem. I suppose when you’re a parent you just get on with it and therefore my health was less of a priority. I remember having to cancel playdates because I just couldn’t physically manage to get to them and people being annoyed by that. Parenthood has given me a thicker skin and you really learn who your true friends are.
My pregnancy with Etta was nowhere near as stress free as Lincoln’s. My heart condition flared from the minute I took the pregnancy test and I had completely underestimated how much harder it would be with a toddler in tow. Even pushing the pram was an horrendous effort but we made it right to 38 weeks and she also came without intervention. My pregnancy journey and birth story are already Blogs if anyone is interested in reading those.
The worst part of parenting with chronic illness is the guilt. The guilt that you’re making them grow up too quickly because you can’t always take them upstairs to the toilet or crouch down to put their shoes on. I’m the mum who’s always a little bit late because I took too long hiking up the hill to nursery and a mum who says ‘just let mummy have a little rest’ more than they should have to. But for us that’s our reality.
I’m in awe of how accepting my little ones are of my health problems. Of course, there are days when they test my patience to the limit but in general my 3-year-old is a great helper! He doesn’t question mummy needing a rest or needing to walk a bit slower. I’ve also be very lucky that he wasn’t a runner as a toddler and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that his sister follows in his footsteps!
I’m sure we will have many more challenges to come as the kids get bigger and want me to stand for long periods of time to watch them in various tournaments, but we will adapt and find a way to make it work for everyone.
What I hope people take from this Blog is not to judge a book by its cover. Just because someone looks on the outside like they are having an easy life doesn’t mean they are. If you know someone who has a chronic illness try not to tell them to pull themselves together or ignore it completely. Its tough and a real struggle at times. Sometimes having someone acknowledge that is a great weight off someone’s shoulders.
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