I gave myself a month to test the waters before writing this. I didn’t want to get too excited if I felt great after delivery, because we all know how unpredictable this disease can be. I also didn’t want to scare the crap out of anyone if I complained that I felt like death the first few weeks. No surprise here--it’s been a mix of both good and bad.
The first three weeks after delivery I felt pretty damn good. The sudden loss of at least ten pounds (I still refuse to weigh myself) helped my mobility tremendously (even after a C- section). I could breathe better, I didn’t waddle, and all the swelling subsided a bit. With less stress on my body, my Lyme symptoms diminished greatly, and for a lovely few weeks, we were a normal family--beaming and happy, yet entirely exhausted and zombie-like from lack of sleep. That was fine, because it seemed “normal” to me. No one sleeps the first couple of months!
Well, that mentality is what got me into a bit of trouble.
We were lucky enough to have help the first couple of weeks. My mother came to stay with us for week one, and my mother-in-law took the second week shift. My husband had to go back to work right away, so the help was truly necessary. I would take care of the baby during the day, and my husband and family would take turns doing the night shifts so I could sleep and recover from surgery.
Regardless of the night sleep, I was still exhausted. But I felt as though I was doing a good job being a mom, so when the help had to leave, I took on the night shifts every other day to help out my husband, who works hard in a hot kitchen for 13+ hours a day.
Since then, my health has declined. Even after eight hours of sleep on my “off duty” nights, I feel like I haven’t slept in days. The nerve pain and twitching came back, and there were a couple of days where I couldn’t keep up with household stuff, and I spent the day curled up on the couch with the Pack and Play set up next to me so I could easily hold, change, and feed the baby when necessary. That said, so far, even my worst days aren’t as bad as my final weeks of pregnancy, so I consider this a major improvement.
My new life hasn’t been overwhelming to the point where I can’t handle it, though I admit there have been a few sob-filled “Come hoooome, I can’t dooooo thiiiiis!” phone calls to the husband if the baby is extra fussy on one of my sick days.
I’m not going to lie. This is hard. You have a baby, and all of a sudden it’s not all about you anymore. Feeling terrible? Too bad--your baby needs you, and you can’t just pull the covers over your head for the day and sleep the pain away.
It definitely takes some getting used to, and I have the feeling my LLMD would want to kick me if I told him that I’m compromising my health by overdoing it, but I can honestly say that I am amazed at the strength I find in motherhood. I’ll even say that being a mom is helping in my recovery.
A month ago I was a lump on the couch. If I didn’t feel well, I could zone out to bad T.V., let the dishes pile up, feel sorry for myself and essentially “give up” for the day.
Yes, this is the world’s biggest cliche, but it’s true: I have a purpose now, and I have a full time job without the option of quitting. (FYI, a baby is even more demanding than the worst boss you’ve ever had.)
Now I’m out and about buying baby supplies. I “exercise” by holding 8+ pounds all day, walking the little guy around the house, and taking out the craptastic garbage bags full of diapers. I have to be upright--there are bottles to wash and make, there’s baby laundry to do and fold, “accidents” to clean up. There’s no time to let aches and pains stop you, and you end up just pushing right through it.
Personally, I feel like all of this pushing is a positive. I have a reason to get better, and my confidence grows each time I challenge myself to keep going and I prove that I can provide for my son.
I swear, once you give birth, you unlock this magical reserve of energy you didn’t know you had. I’m assuming the physical ups and downs will continue. In the meantime, I’ll continue my new drugs (back on all supplements, thyroid pills, and Minocycline for now) until I see my LLMD in two weeks to discuss the future. We’re also looking into hiring someone to help out for a few hours a day so I can get more rest in, but I’ll save all that for another post.
I am a mother and writer with Chronic Lyme, on the road to acceptance and recovery. I was bitten in 1996, diagnosed 2008. I am living proof that it is possible to live meaningfully and have happy, healthy children while battling this terrible disease.