Thursday, November 4, 2010

Help Revisited



I’m not gonna lie: I’m feeling some guilt over not posting as often as I’d like, but to say that I don’t have time because I’m exhausted is a gross understatement.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you have the right mindset--the work of motherhood is rewarding, and most importantly, it forces you to get out of your own head, challenge yourself physically, and survive as best you can in the “healthy” world--because, let’s face it, that baby is not going to slow down or stay quiet just because you’re having a bad Lyme day. Parenthood shows you that there is life outside of Lyme.

Help. That’s the magic word. You will need it, and there’s no shame in asking for it. If someone offers it to you, assume they mean it, and take it. If I could have done one thing differently during pregnancy, I would have made a Help List way in advance.

Even when fully healthy people have a baby, it’s pretty standard to have family come and assist with daily stuff like meal prep, cleaning, and some baby care, especially when there’s more than one kid in the house. I’ve yet to hear of a family that didn’t welcome an extra hand. Usually after a couple of weeks, you’ve adjusted and are on your own again.

But when you have Lyme, multiply that need for help by a few months. This might not be the case for everyone, and I hope it isn’t, but expect the worst and hope for the best.

Wyatt is over three months old, and just yesterday, I was so exhausted that I had to stay in bed all day. It only happens once in a while, but when it does, I’d be in some serious trouble if I didn’t have help to call on.

Luckily, people love babies. Especially people whose children are all grown up now--they love reliving the experience of rocking and snuggling an infant. Before you even have your baby, make a list of people who would love to rock and snuggle yours. Let them know in advance that you anticipate some “down” days from time to time and that you would love to add them to your list of people to call on.

Based on a few recent experiences, I have to add that you’ll want to choose people who can get right in there without waiting for direction, especially during your first couple of weeks home from the hospital. Of course, if you’re not shy about rattling off a list of things you want done around your house, you’ll have no problems. I feel uncomfortable giving orders, so I prefer people who can come in and just do what needs to be done.

For example, my mother is an angel. If I leave Wyatt with her while I nap, I wake up to find the little guy bathed, fed, and happy. She also finds time during my nap to vacuum, wash dishes and bottles, do laundry, and once she even mopped my floor because, “it was really sticky and gross.” She saves me so much time and energy that I usually don’t have to spare in the first place.

In the end, I came up with a small list of people I can call on in emergency situations (i.e. days I’m so tired I literally can’t do anything).

On Mondays and Tuesdays my husband is off, so he can pick up the slack.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I have a stay-at-home neighbor on call in case I need help or I need to walk the dog. On weekends, my parents are overly happy to help out. I’m not ashamed to admit that my husband and I will bring the baby over to my parents’ house and have my mom take Wyatt for a night or two while we catch up on sleep. (My husband works 14 hours a day on his feet, so he has his fair share of fatigue as well.) Of course, we wouldn’t just dump the baby on her--we stay at the house, too, and help out. My mom also knows that she can be honest if we’ve overstayed our welcome. Lucky for us, she loves taking care of her grandbaby.

Even with the help of friends and family, I’m looking for a mother’s helper to call on when necessary--a young person who’s looking for an after-school job for a couple hours a week. To me, it’s worth the forty bucks or so a week to have an extra set of hands around the house. In reality, what it comes down to is that I will gladly pay for sleep. Sleep is crucial.

So here’s your homework assignment: Make your Help List in advance. Have as many people as you can as backup, because the suckiest feeling in the world is scrambling to find someone to come over when you’re having a bad Lyme day. Even suckier is when your brain is so foggy you can’t even think of your friends’ names! Okay, a bit extreme, but you know what I mean...

*Note: There are plenty of people looking for childcare jobs on Craigslist and your local newspaper. We found a great candidate for us and will be interviewing her this week. I also like to browse http://www.care.com/ because you can see pictures and pre-screen the applicants.

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