Choosing Health: Priorities

I’m feeling rather melancholy today. My husband’s sister and her husband have been trying to have a baby for several years, and have decided to go the adoption route. After being put through the wringer just to get on the adoption list, they were finally selected to adopt a baby. They had to drop everything in an instant to fly across the country as this baby was being born. A day or two later, the baby was placed in their hands, and they lovingly cared for him for a week and a half. Today was the day it was all to be made official, but instead their hearts were torn out as the baby was given back to the birth mother, who had changed her mind. I am devastated for them.

Many of us will do so much to have children. I remember when I read The Red Tent how I was astonished that some women so desperately wanted children that they were very literally risking their lives to have them. Today that risk is still there, yet we are practically blind to it. We just want children. We’ll do what it takes: lose weight, get healthier, do fertility treatments, adopt, even use surrogate mothers.

I ached to have a child. But I had to wait till I was grown up. Till I got married. Till I finished school. I may have gotten pregnant right away when we finally started trying, but I had waited rather impatiently for that opportunity. For others, the waiting is worse. Much worse.

Now that I have a child, my heart does not ache so badly as it did for the first. I want another child, and I am dang determined to have another child, but I thankfully have a precious child to tide me over until I can *hopefully* get pregnant again.

My pregnancy with my firstborn was rough. Oh, the constant morning sickness that caused me to be bed-ridden and the heartburn progressively getting worse from the first trimester were horrible, but not scary or anything (well, maybe a little scary). The real scary thing was that my urine protein levels kept going up, and they were watching and waiting for me to develop preeclampsia so they could schedule a c-section and deliver a preemie. This was all because I had an E. coli infection was I was a little girl, which affected my kidneys such that I had kidney failure, amazingly recovered, but have residual scarring on the kidneys. We made it full-term, I was induced for health reasons, and delivered vaginally a mostly healthy boy. But it doesn’t all end with pretty roses.

Since having my son, my kidney function has been reduced. This is something that in and of itself was scary to me, but the thought of getting pregnant again and weakening my kidneys further was really scary. Then I saw a naturopath who believes my kidneys can be healed. This was incredibly reassuring to me, pulling me up out of fear and into the realm of hope. However, after a month and a half of treatment, I wasn’t improving at the rate that she expected, so she had a chat with me. In essence what she said was:

“Reduce your stress or your kidneys won’t get better.”

She told me to address my stressors. To ask for help if I needed it. To relax and have some fun. In a way, it was the best homework assignment ever: She essentially gave me permission to go really easy on myself. I’ve always known that I stress easily. It’s why I chose to be self-employed as a photographer and work my own hours. It’s why I didn’t plan to work when I became a mom unless I felt I could manage it. It’s why I allow my husband to do so much for me. It’s why I really wish I had a maid. But if I have already tried to keep my stress levels down, was there more I could do?

Yes. Oh yes.

See, this is where my love for babies and desire to serve others compromises my better judgment. Several months ago, my stepsister asked me if I could babysit her baby girl, my niece, starting in March. She would be four months old when I started, and it would just be one day a week. She wanted me to do two, but I had enough sense to insist I could only do one day. I wanted to help, and I was excited about the prospect of caring for my adorable niece and seeing what I and my little boy could learn from the experience. I think the greatest lesson we learned is that it is very stressful, for both of us. We both love her, but I knew this one ten-hour-day a week was impairing my health. I didn’t want to give up watching her…but I needed to. It was hard to tell my stepsister, but I’m glad I did. It would have been crazy to keep watching someone else’s baby and then never getting healthy enough to have another one of my own. I want to have another baby. I had to choose health.

There are other things I can weed out as well, such as excess blogging. I would love to write three posts  here every week, but giving myself deadlines like that would only exacerbate my stress levels (did you see/read Julie & Julia?). I’ve always thought of writing as a stress relief, but I am beginning to think that too much time in front the computer only increases my stress. Perhaps it’s just a balance thing. There are other stressors I could cut down on as well. The beauty of my naturopath’s prescription is that it helps me not feel guilty for doing less than other people. That’s something of a roller coaster for me–sometimes I don’t let it get to me, and other times I feel like I need to do more, or that others are expecting more of me. Now I can just say that it’s doctor’s orders for me to relax.

It’s summer. I am going to relax. But I am also very focused on healing through food as well. I hope you’ll stick with me through my journey, even if I do post sporadically.

So here’s to health. Cheers.

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4 thoughts on “Choosing Health: Priorities

  1. Oh man, that must have been so hard on your sister-in-law and her husband. They must be devastated. I’ll keep them in my prayers.

    You do whatever you need to do to get healthy hun, even if it means you blog less (yes, I did see Julie & Julia and loved it). I stress easily too, so fully understand where you’re coming from.

  2. I really agree with you about the stress. Especially the part where you said you feel like you need to do more or that others expect you to do more. I think it’s really important for your health and the health of M to be less stressed and to do less. I often feel like I don’t take Luke to do much or that we relax too much. But really most outings for me are stressful. They are worth doing usually. But they aren’t worth doing everyday making my life more stressful. This is something I struggle with, always wanting to do more but I find I’m happier when I’m not doing much at all.
    I’m really glad you stopped re baby-sitting job because it sounds like it wasnt worth the cost of you not being able to have more children. I think you made the right decision!!

    1. Thanks Cassie.

      Ugh, yeah, it’s hard to balance outings versus staying home. I love to get out, and it can actually be very relaxing for me, but then facing a messy home when I get back with no energy left…well, that’s what stresses me about outings–the coming home part. Now, if only I had a maid, there wouldn’t be any problem! lol

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