THE “D” WORD
MOMS WITH IBD
If you are a Mom with IBD, you may face special challenges, not only with your disease, but in dealing with your children as well. A friend of mine, Lisa, got diagnosed when her daughter was just a toddler. They wanted to hospitalize Lisa at that time. She sat down and cried, “No, who will take care of the baby?”
I could relate. When my daughter was 6 and my son 12, I was dealing with a health problem and was told I needed an operation. I started to cry in the doctor’s office, “Who will drive the kids to school?”
Of course it didn’t occur to me at the time that if I dropped dead because I was worrying about the kids instead of taking care of my health, I wasn’t going to be of much use in the transportation department.
Lisa’s doctor, however, relented. He said if she stayed in bed, she would not have to go to the hospital. (I doubt this doctor ever babysat!) And Lisa did pull it off that time. She piled children’s books on the bed and toys in the room. Stacked the diapers and the snacks nearby and stayed in bed. “Go get Mommy the diaper.” she’d say to the little one. “Come sit near Mommy and I’ll read you a story.”
Now I can imagine doing this for a day or two with one of my children when she was little. But with the other one, he would have found a way out the door and probably hitch hiked to the 7-11 in the blink of an eye. I always had to have my running shoes on when he was little. So what worked for Lisa may not work for other moms. It would depend on the child, the child’s age, how sick you are and certainly would only be a short-term solution. Any serious stay-in-bed time would have to include not only Dad’s time but outside childcare too.
Moms’ often tend to think they are Super Women. In fairness to moms, though, it’s often tough to get the help one needs. Several years later, Lisa was hospitalized. I applauded her for her decision to stay at her Mom’s for a while when she was released. Hubby and daughter complained, but truly, if she had come home, she would have been up worrying about their diner, worrying about getting them off in the morning, worrying about chauffeuring to swim meets, cleaning up the house. No way would she have stayed in bed to recuperate. Luckily, her own Mom was available and able to help out.
I know it was important to Lisa to make sure her daughter’s life was inconvenienced as little as possible while she was in the hospital. She felt that keeping routines would help her daughter cope. I know she did the best she could so that Dad could keep up the schedule while Lisa was away. For moms that work outside the home also, then keeping the child in the routine already set up would be helpful.
A neighbor or another parent may be able to help out with the driving routine because often Dad is spending time at the hospital too. It’s a stress on the whole family.
I asked Lisa’s daughter how it was when Mom had to go to the hospital. She looked morose. “It was scary, wasn’t it?” I asked and she nodded her head yes. “But you got to hang out with Dad, didn’t you?” She smiled and volunteered, “And we had pizza three times and spaghetti and hot dogs too.”
She also reported some other fun things she and Dad did together while Mom was recuperating. He already was involved in her after school sports. So they kept that routine the same. Ok, her nutrition may have suffered, but on the whole, I think the extra bonding time with Dad was a good thing.
I tell this story to encourage Moms with IBD to reach out and get the help they need and take the time they need to take care of their health. Yes, Dad, Grandma, Aunty, Teen-next-door will not take care of your child exactly like you would. You will have to let go of controlling everything they do and take care of your own health. That is the most important thing you can do for your family. And I know how hard that is.
When I finally went for my surgery, I had arranged for rides to and from school, left stuff for lunches in the fridge, did as much as possible so things would run ok while I was gone. Yet, I could see my daughter was very worried. I crocheted her a little bag on a long chain so she could wear it as a necklace. I put some “special” little stones in it. I told her to wear it when I was in the hospital and if she felt worried about me, she could hold the bag and think of me getting well very fast. I told her this would help me.
After my surgery, a nurse came by and threw me out of bed. This apparently is routine and is supposed to be good for you. I shuffled down the hall in my teensy hospital gown, trying not to moon the public and pulling my IV after me. Just then the elevator door opened and my family walked out. My daughter took one look at me, up and moving and just beamed with relief. She grabbed her necklace and proclaimed, “Look, Mom, it worked!”
Yes, and that look on her face got me through many of the hard days that it took to heal.
Copyright 1996 - 2002 Arlyn Serber