Updated: May 27, 2019
Once upon a time, I had chronic pain due to a lifetime of living with scoliosis. I also had a child with a new onset of type one diabetes and I was newly divorced. Then, out of wedlock, I had a new baby. When my ex-husband left the state for work, I started to write. From a distance, he and I wrote a blog during that time. Writing, my family, my kids and hope, all helped me survive. I remember looking at the words on the screen, whether I chose to share them, or not, they validated the way I felt inside in that dark time.
It's Wednesday at 12 am: I check my oldest son. I'm worried about his blood sugar being safe for him to sleep. 2 1/2 hours before, at bedtime, his blood sugar was HIGH (meaning over 500) due his insulin pump failure. So scary. I gave him insulin to treat, but it was so much insulin, that now an additional blood sugar check is required to be sure that he won't go dangerously low while sleeping.
I prick his finger, draw a drop of blood by squeezing, then press it into the ready test strip. His number is now in range, thank God, so I can rest. I'm tired.
2 am: My baby is crying. She makes her way into my room from next door where she has only started to sleep on her own. She stands next to the bed, on my side, screaming. My boyfriend turns around and sighs.
"Do you need to pee?" I ask her. "No pee! Mamma bed!" "O.K., Come in," I say, half asleep. I felt successful getting her into her own bed. Reverting back to her sleeping with me makes me feel that my effort has been wasted. But, I'm tired. Too tired to walk her back. And, it seems it would be easy tonight, she's tired too. My boyfriend is in bed with me this night. I wish, for this one time, that he would help to get her back to her bed. But he has told me, taking care of her is my job. He is important with important things to do today, tomorrow and everyday. Much more so than me. I used to be important, but now I am not.
She makes her way in and manages to sleep between us perfectly perpendicular. I am facing her, her tiny head to my chest. I don't have enough room to regain my fetal position, to pull my legs up tight and ease the pain of my back. This is how I sleep, this is how I always want to be. I have carried the burden of this curve for twenty years now, given birth to four children with it on my back. It is a constant, never-ending twist deep within me that never leaves. It always hurts. My scoliosis makes sleeping tough, but still, all of my children have slept with me. I nursed them all, and it was worth it. Baby #4 is done nursing, and I need sleep desperately, I am tired, so tired.
I watch him grunt and roll away, wrapping himself with the comforter. This is his way of telling me to stop making noise. She's bothering him, I'm bothering him. I'm cold, it doesn't matter to anyone. My back, it's not worth complaining, no one wants to hear about that anymore. My ex-husband would rub my back every night for the nine years we were married. I feel guilty that I probably didn't thank him for doing that for me. This bed was from my marriage, and now it's not a king, now it has no royalty whatsoever.
3 am: I'm not sleeping. How can I? Being comfortable seems impossible. I hear a child standing next to the bed again, but on his side. It's my youngest son.
"My bed is wet," he says. My son has woken the man beside me, and he sits up. "Did you pee your bed?" "No, it's not pee!" he yells my son. Please, don't shame him. Not my kids. His dad would never do that. I would never do that.
"It's OK, don't worry," I say, "Will you sleep next to one of your brothers, and I'll take care of it in the morning?"
6 am: My alarm goes off. My back is a fire that was lit in the night and now it burns. I am exhausted. I look at him beside me.
"Do you have today off?" I know he said he did, but I know not to assume. "No, I have calls. Then.. I'm not sure." Translation is--"Don't ask me to do anything!"
I need help today, but asking, after he's answering this way will mean I'm ready to tolerate being shamed myself. Is he right that I should be able to handle all of this alone? He looks at me and seems to realize his reaction was harsh, even for him,
"I don't want you to book my day," he says.
So I don't ask for anything. I get the point.
My ex-husband used to take our son, Ryan, to soccer practice. He stayed and coached. But now, with him out of town, I'll have to go. His blood sugars have been erratic, and I'm afraid to leave him at all. That's hours from now, but, I'm thinking about it, and it feels exhausting.
My sore spine makes me feel old. I feel 85. Who knows how I'll really feel at 85. Will there always be so much pain? I make myself get up.
I take the dog out and wait for her to go. She takes what seems like forever to poop. She is distracted by every smell in the yard. Today I find that annoying...but then I feel bad for rushing her. I hate it when I'm rushed. I rush enough on my own.
7 am: 4 kids are up and the morning chaos begins. I'm making lunches and sipping coffee, I need it today.
"Mom, Where's my backpack?" "Mom, Why can't you go on my field trip?" "Mom, I don't like that lunch!" "Mom, Can I have a playdate today?" "Mom, The dog is chewing the couch!" "Mom, I want to go to Dad's tonight."
"Dad, isn't there," I say, "You know he's working in St.Louis."
"I know, I just want to go to his house," says Ryan.
My son misses his dad. He used to see him almost every day. We were divorced, but co-parenting. I didn't feel divorced, until now. I miss my ex-husband too. Now I know what his contribution to parenting our boys really is. He's only been gone 3 days, we have months to go. He has to focus on his career for awhile in another state. I understand. But still, I hate this.
"OK," I say, "We can go there later. We can see his house if you want."
7:45: "Mom, I can't find my sneakers!" My boyfriend is in the kitchen not saying anything, until he does. "Why aren't they taking the bus?" he says. "Because we're too late," I say.
"Like everyday," he says.
We miss the bus, and I drive them. The baby sits in her seat wearing my shirt. She took it out of my drawer and put it on herself. It's a dress on her but she insists on wearing it. She's not even 2 but so independent.
8:45: I drop off the boys and they're actually only a couple minutes late, feels like a miracle. I don't want to be home. If I go to the gym, I can bring the baby into childcare, I can exercise. I look at the clock and I'm determined to make it, It will be the one thing today that's for me. I have to go. I look in my rear view mirror and my daughter looks white.
"Poop" she says. "You have to poop?" I ask her. "No poop, puke!"
I turn into my road instead of the direction of the gym and pull into my driveway to take her out of the car. And then it comes...she throws up everywhere, all over her car seat, and herself. It smells awful and I feel nauseous. I don't think I had breakfast but I can't remember. I only remember having coffee, the rest is a blur. Now I remember, I finished the oatmeal I made one of the kids. I really need to stop eating after them, it's really gross when I think about it, especially now that I see her wearing it.
Poor girl, she got this from me. I used to get car sick all the time when I was little. I think it must have driven my parents crazy. They couldn't take me anywhere in the morning, without my getting sick. I pull into the driveway and clean her up. She's crying because she wants the lollipop she spotted in the back. I keep a stash of candy for emergencies in the case where Ryan has low blood sugar. I'm trying to avoid having her touch anything in my car. She touches her hair, I use a baby wipe to clean it.
9:00: I'm still cleaning the car with the baby in it. She's still mad about not getting a lollipop. He is outside moving 50 pound pellet bags into my house. I call to him and ask for more wipes. He brings them to me and walks away. I hate the pellet stove, my back can't handle lifting the bags. He looks at me and I know he's irritated I don't help with the bags. He doesn't understand what it does to my back.
"Why don't you make the kids take the bus?" he asks, for the second time.
My hands are covered with puke, there is still vomit on the car seat in the little cracks of the buckle and on her clothes. The car smells, the baby is crying, and I know I've missed most of my class. I didn't want to have to come back here. I look at him and wonder how he can be so out of touch with me and what I'm dealing with...I want to cry, but not in front of him, not in front of her.
9:25 I leave the house and drive to the gym. I drop off my daughter to child care (now relatively clean) and I go into my class. The class is full but my my teacher is kind and points to a spot, she says it was saved for me. I get right into it and I find energy from somewhere deep within me.
Here, I don't have to feel the dread of my ex being away, the fucked up back that I carry, the fear of diabetes or the difficult relationship that I'm in. Here, I can fly.
The music is fun and her routine is familiar so I don't have to think at all, I just move. I need this.
I watch my body in the mirror and I try my best to stand up, despite my body tying to pull me down. Will I ever have the surgery I need? How could I? Who would take care of my children? Could we survive?
Who would do all the s... that I do? And, who wold do all the things that I love to do for my kids. They need me and now, I am mother, and I am father.
Don't think now, this, and only this, is my time.