Today we met our brand new (and very first) niece. Her parents are very proud of themselves, and of her. I think I made all the right noises. I’m not much of a babies person. I never have been. I like children, I just like them more when they’re walking & talking.
The thing about NOT having children is that you’re immediately separated from your child-rearing peers. Some things about this frustrate me. Like when new parents say they’re SO TIRED, and I’m not allowed to say, I know how that feels. Because I’m not a parent. I do, however, know what it’s like to be so excruciatingly tired that the world turns sideways underneath. I know what it’s like to sit on the edge of the bed sobbing with sheer exhaustion because my hairbrush is on the cabinet over the other side of the room, and to reach it I will have to stand up and take two steps there then two steps back to sit down again. I KNOW tired. I know what it’s like to wake up in the night repeatedly – not called from sleep by baby-cries but pushed out of it by my own body demanding attention for some need. This hurts! Need the toilet! Gonna be sick! Something else hurts! It needs to be cared for like a demanding toddler that won’t sleep through the night and only wants to wear pink.
Okay, maybe that analogy’s not working.
Anyway, I had a partial bowel obstruction on Friday. At least I think that’s what it was. Obstructive pain is quite identifiable. Usually I’m good about avoiding things that trigger that type of pain, but on Thursday I ate some steamed cabbage and some pineapple. Pineapple doesn’t usually give me any trouble, but I should have known better than to touch the cabbage. I know, I’m weird – but I LIKE cabbage, alright? And I’ve had so little trouble lately that I thought I’d get away with a couple of mouthfuls. The pain started about 1:30am – usually if I eat something I shouldn’t at lunch I know about it by dinnertime… so maybe it WAS the pineapple. I hope it wasn’t. I like pineapple even more than cabbage.
After getting not much more sleep I called in sick to work on Friday. I spent most of Friday curled up in bed, reminding myself to breathe through the cramps and keeping drinking water. Just small sips. Monitoring myself for signs that this was not improving. Reminding myself of my personal rule – if you can’t keep water down, go to hospital. How much of what I was drinking was coming back up? If I need to go to hospital, will I call a taxi or ask the builder (who was finishing our shed roof) to take me? Or is this emergency enough to call an ambulance? If I go to hospital, I’ll probably be stuck there all weekend. I don’t want to spend the weekend in hospital. I made a deal with myself – if nothing’s better by the time DJ gets home, I will go to hospital. I asked him to cancel his after-work drinks plans just in case.
By the time he got home, I really was improving. Keeping down everything I drank and feeling a little less crampy. I worried about it for a little while (the only thing worse than having to present yourself at A&E is having to do it after 10:30 on a Friday/Saturday night), but decided I was safe enough to stay home. DJ went out & bought me lemonade icypoles (that’s ice lollies to the Brits – I’m learning the lingo but it still feels unnatural to use it!). On Saturday I ate some plain biscuits and crackers. On Sunday I had weak black coffee – not the best idea as it prompted another wave of cramps, but at least it stayed down. So over this weekend I’ve consumed a LOT of crackers and most of a packet of Rich Tea biscuits, but I’m feeling a lot better.
It’s episodes like this that remind me why I haven’t pushed myself harder in my working life. I get frustrated at work because I feel like I could be doing more, achieving higher, Fulfilling My Potential. I have to remind myself that I chose work which was not too demanding to ensure I would have energy left over when I came home of an evening. I looked for administrative work because I didn’t want to be difficult to replace – I wanted to be able to take time off sick without worrying about work. This is good, valid, and sensible reasoning. You know how people say that their serious illness was really a blessing because it forced them to look at their priorities in life, and focus less on their work & more on their families? I hate it when people say that. I’ve spent most of my adult life evaluating my priorities and putting my health first. I hate what doing that has taken away from me. When someone says that an illness/accident/whatever convinced them life’s too short to put their work first – that person already HAS a successful career. When someone says they decided to look at the bigger picture and put their family first – that person already HAS a family. When they say they decided that feeling successful isn’t everything – that person has HAD success. When you’ve started out at the beginning making decisions around what you can and can’t do, it doesn’t feel like a silver lining. It feels like constant compromise.
You might be guessing that I’m not in the right headspace for focussing on my blessings just now! This is me getting into a downward spiral. Before you know it I’ll be curled up on my comfortable recliner lounge in front of our enormous TV, crying about everything I haven’t done and will never do. I know that the truth is, there’s no satisfaction gained in pursuing importance through work or even family life. Rather, satisfaction comes from recognising the importance of the contribution you CAN and DO make – to work, family, society. Without comparing it to anyone else. I’m trying, I really am. This week I planted some things in the garden – pulmonaria and tiarella plants, dormant now but soon to bring forth flowers & foliage to surprise and delight. I love interesting flowers and leaf shapes. I didn’t plant out everything I have waiting, because this was on Saturday afternoon and too much exertion was still setting off cramps. But still, having something in the ground made me feel good. I’m not a hugely keen gardener – I like choosing plants and watching them grow, but I don’t like the regular maintenance work associated with gorgeous gardens. I choose things that are described as “hardy” and “tolerant”, grow perennials rather than annuals, and do little in the way of ground preparation. A bit of old horse manure and that’s it. One of the things I like about England is that it rains often enough to make watering almost unnecessary except in the warmest summer. Just stick ’em in the ground & let ’em get on with it – that’s the gardening style I like. If it dies, I don’t plant it again.
That was a bit of a rambley post. I’m sorry. At least I managed to bring it around to a positive train of thought. Here’s the recap for the week:
I’m grateful for rain, and that I don’t have to water the garden much here!
A good thing that happened: the birth of Number One Niece.
Something Good I Did: I planted things! Hooray!