Every Parent Has a Right to Be Selfish

The third day after Madeline had her casts off and her feet were placed in a foot abduction brace (FAB) affectionately referred to as Boots and Bars (BNB) in the clubfoot community, I was so sad I couldn’t cry. I had wailed my sorrows out the two days before and while Madeline was doing better, I wasn’t. She was sleeping. I wasn’t. She was eating. I wasn’t. My darling little C even said to me “you look like you’re feeling sad” which is a very obvious statement but the concerned expression on her face and the cautious tone, she understood the depths of my sadness. Very scary to recognize in a child, let alone a child who is only two.

After I had C, I was sad. I was tired. I didn’t know who I was or how I was going to do anything. People kept telling me it was normal and so I assumed it was. But in preparing for a second kid, and then thriving after she was born, it became blatantly obvious that what I went through with C wasn’t normal. While not the most severe or lasting case, it was undeniably postpartum depression. Armed with that knowledge, we put some extra precautions in place to monitor my frame of mind this time around. Fortunately, they seemed foolish and unnecessary… until we wented into the BNB phase.

It takes a lot out of you to manipulate your daughter’s foot into an appliance designed to hold it in a position her body is unaccustomed to and causes your child so much distress that she vomits all over herself. And while it should be a process that only happens once a day, it takes time to figure out all the tricks to make the shoes fit properly, that some days, we were removing and replacing every couple of hours.

I would be concerned if it didn’t bother me.

Suddenly our precautionary strategies became utterly important. We set a minimum amount of sleep I needed to get in a 24 hour period. We made sure I remembered to eat, even when I felt too sick to want to. We insisted I shower regularly. And we made sure that even if Maddy was fussy with anyone but me, I still had the opportunity to get some time to myself.

It’s not easy asking for help. It’s especially not easy asking for help so you can go do something seemingly frivolous, like going to grab yourself a coffee from anywhere but your own kitchen. But the cliched airline example is right: you need to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help someone else.

Even with all these checks in place, there is still a pervasive sadness. But I don’t feel nearly as resigned to allowing the darkness to engulf me. And when my darling C says to me that I look sad, I can take her in my arms, give her a squeeze and a kiss, and let her know that while it’s ok to be sad, that she and her sister help make me happy, and quietly remind myself that trying to make yourself happy is important too.

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Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Every Parent Has a Right to Be Selfish

  1. SO many hugs to you. I am glad you’re letting yourself feel the feels and also doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that in any stretch of the imagination. Even with only have one child who does not have the same things you’re dealing with, I have moments that I need to step away due to my anxiety (diagnosed after Ollie was born, but have likely had it my entire life.) If I have a bad moment, Nate and I have an agreement that I say I need a few minutes and he takes over no questions asked. It makes me a better parent. And by giving yourself self care, it makes you a better parent as well. ❤ ❤ ❤

  2. You are being so brave! And your girls notice and thank you. You are doing the absolute right thing even when it’s hard. Thinking of you often 💕

  3. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do when you feel depressed, and your inner voice is telling you that you shouldn’t even need help, but it is so good and important to do. I had PPD with my first and like you didn’t realize it until I saw how different it was with my second, and I have it now with my third (2 months old now). I’ve had episodes of depression since high school actually. But this is the first time I’ve asked for help with it, because I’ve realized that to take care of my kids well, to be the mother and person I want to be, I need to take care of myself as well.

    All that to say, I wish you hope and healing as you deal with your own sadness as well as your daughter’s care. It’s not easy to keep going with the darkness and worry weighing you down.

    • Thanks, Kristina! At least this time, I know the sadness is very specific and situational, so it lifts once the stress eases, until we encounter the next problem. I really liked what you said in one of your posts about redefining what constitutes a successful day, and having it be something measurable. I was doing that at the start of my mat leave, but when things got rough, I gave up. I’m going to start trying that again and hopefully it will become a habit before the next bump in the road!

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