This weekend, my son, wearing a tiny crown and old man suspenders, blew out the candle on his birthday cake. It was beyond adorable and tugged at my mama-heart in the saddest way. The blown-out candles marked the end of my first year as a parent. As I’ve written before, my first year as a mother with cystic fibrosis was joyful and remarkable, but physically, it was challenging and left me with lower lung function and weight.
Everyone seems to agree that the newborn phase is the hardest and most draining. I completely see their point. Intellectually, it makes sense — a very dependent baby would be more demanding of your resources. But frankly, I’m not sure this theory fits the framework of my own motherhood experiences the past year. I rocked the newborn stage. It wasn’t until my chubby baby boy grew taller and speedier that I entered a season of decline.
I am feeling more proactive about establishing a plan for this coming year; maybe it’s because I just started another round of IV antibiotics in the span of eight weeks. I want to rise up to the level of health I was before and during my pregnancy, but I’m not sure what factors need tweaking. What can I do better beyond treatment compliance? How can I ensure stability within my health? What will make my time easier with an active toddler? These are the questions I ask myself while developing a simple and realistic plan for improvement.
Following is my health improvement plan:
Finding time to rest
I think the first step to better health is to admit I need more time to rest. I wish I scheduled more consistent and routine times throughout each week this year to rest by hiring a babysitter or passing him off to a relative for a few hours. I need to accept the help people have been offering instead of brushing it off because I feel guilty. There’s so much guilt felt because of this disease, and the guilt doesn’t fade when you have a child. It exponentially grows. Every parent needs time to rest, especially those fighting a chronic illness. So, goal No. 1: hire a kick-butt babysitter so that I can rest (and be OK with it)!
The next point in my less-than-thoughtfully-constructed plan is to add more exercise to my weekly schedule. I am not someone who necessarily enjoys traditional exercise, but I can get behind walking, jogging, dancing, and yoga. I made the excuses this past year that taking care of children both at home and at my part-time job was physical enough.
Being skinny and weak with disarranged biceps, I have realized that I am not as physically fit as I could be, and that’s not OK. They say the addition of exercise is good for body and soul, so maybe this will help me to not just survive the crazy toddler years. Goal No. 2: exercise (walk, yoga, YouTube video, etc.) three times a week!
Focusing on my parenting victories
I always think that there is room for improvement in anything I do, but honestly, I believe I handled large parts of the past year really well as a mom with CF. I was able to breastfeed for an entire year (and continue doing so) and checked off a very large goal in my parenting strata.
My baby is healthy, happy, adjusted, and a really good sleeper. Although, I’m not sure how much of that is the result of nurture verse nature. But hey, you take your praise where you can get it. Also, I stayed compliant to my medication and treatments this past year by developing an organized system and schedule. It wasn’t easy, but at least I know my season of decline is NOT due to my own adherence. There were a lot of moments when I kicked butt and succeeded, and I need to give myself the credit I deserve while using that motivation forward into the next year of parenting. Goal No. 3: celebrate and regenerate my victories as a parent with CF!
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.