I am starting to realize I expect too much of myself. And after the debacle of my first week postpartum, I believed despite my spinal headache, a week off for maternity leave was a reasonable amount of time to recover.
Week two of my postpartum recovery seemed less head pain and more lower back pain. Even with 4 epidurals administered and a spinal headache, I still took my situation lightly and was ready to be back on top after 7 days.
On Monday, thankful to be making the kids breakfast and changing diapers, I paused to rub my lower back and felt my swollen skin bulging over the elastic of my yoga pants. My shoulders seemed to creep up to my ears as I carried out my usual domestic tasks.
I momentarily thought about taking another pain killer and stopped, annoyed to be masking the pain in my body rather than helping it.
I called my OB, frustrated, weepy and emotional.
“You just had a baby, Elizabeth. And you had 4 epidurals,” my doctor explained. “And-you had a spinal headache. That is a lot for one person to handle. Your body needs time to heal. You must be patient.”
After a reality check from my doctor, we reasoned the inflammation in my back needed to be reduced. Pain meds and a high dose of ibuprofen was suggested in addition to applying heat to my lower back.
“You need to take it slow. You must take breaks to apply heat and allow your body to relax,” my doctor added.
MORE pain meds? I cannot take pain meds and take care of my children. SIT DOWN? I do not sit down.
My doctor then advised that I get some help during the week – did I have friends or family members who could help out?
Okay, I will admit it. I am a little bit of a control freak. I like doing everything for myself and am working on letting things go and allowing other people to come in to my life and help me out.
Or maybe I am just extremely passionate about my personal responsibilities and have fine tuned my day to work in the unique chaos of my life.
Besides, friends and family had already helped out last week and my pride could barely handle accepting that help!
And people are busy! They have their own lives!
I listed off all the excuses I could muster and hung up with the doctor more frustrated with the fact that after 1 week, I was not my perky self.
After a day of stubbornness and pain, a little voice in my head told me to give up being in control. Not a crazy voice that tells me to do things, a voice of reason which said:
“It is not about you anymore. You cannot be a patient mother to your 3 children when you are lacking sleep and in agonizing pain. It is not fair to them.
So I let my guard down.
I accepted more meals from gracious friends and allowed my neighbor to wash dishes for me in the midst of my messy house. When my back pain was too intense, I called my parents and in-laws who lovingly hung out with my daughter and son while I relaxed and fed the baby.
I find it amusing that I love helping other people and yet, I am not too comfortable accepting help for myself. Children change everything and when you cannot take care of your kids, you must ask for help.
I also owe myself time to heal and adjust mentally and physically to our new family member. While I enjoy change, it is sometimes difficult. Once again, I need to listen to my friendly inner voice who encourages me to slow down, accept the help of others and put pride aside.
Do you easily accept help?
Are women more prideful when it comes to accepting help with their domestic or child rearing duties?