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Confessions of a Chronically Sick Mom: The Background

The following situations are based on my experiences. Please contact your doctor for any medical advice regarding your personal circumstance.

I didn’t start out as a chronically sick person. For over a decade, I’ve known something was wrong. However, the weight of the lifelong nature of being chronically sick didn’t sink in until recently. Medical considerations have been at the center of every decision I have made since high school – what shoes to wear, what college to attend, where to live, even marrying a man who I knew would take care of me on my worst days.

On a “good day,” you’d never know I am sick. If you get to know me a little better, you might start to recognize my “sick eyes” in photographs, where it looks like all of the energy has been drained from my exhausted body. You’d notice my “bounce back days” where I try to catch up from all the things I ignored while sick. I tend to do as much as possible when I feel good, which often backfires into another bout of sickness.

When my husband and I decided that we were ready to have a baby, we knew it would probably be our only pregnancy. We are both thrilled to be a family of three, but I still find myself feeling guilty that the decision to have one child was made partially because of the uncertainty of my condition. It’s hard not to reflect on our own home when I read Facebook posts written by people who can’t imagine not giving their child a sibling to play with and keep them company throughout life. Listening to people talk about how awkward or strange it was to be an only child makes me reflect on the childhood we’re offering our daughter. My husband reminds me that only we know what is best for our family and I know he’s absolutely right.

The realist in me knows siblings don’t come with a compatibility guarantee and we can make our daughter’s childhood wonderful.

My husband has known me for 12 years, but never as a 100 percent healthy person. Similarly, my daughter has only known me while I’ve been sick. Even when she was a toddler, she picked up on sick cues I didn’t realize I was giving off. She’d ask me if I was feeling okay, if I took my medicine, if I was tired or happy. It was crushing to realize how obvious my sickness was to her. I tried to reassure myself that there’s nothing wrong with her learning empathy at a young age. However, guilt would set in when we needed to slow down and have quiet puzzle or art project time. Rationally, I knew that no mom was running around actively with their child every minute of every day.

After 12 years of medical tests and theories, I finally ended up with a plan for treatment. Despite the confirmation that I am chronically sick, my husband and I were thrilled – finally a “normal” life!

The relief of medicine quickly wore off when we started adjusting dosages and dealing with debilitating side effects. I had naively believed that once we figured out a plan, life would be easy. I failed to consider that treatment isn’t a cure and could cause new problems of its own. It was overwhelming as I realized the sickness was something that would go on for the rest of my life.

Tune in next month for Confessions on Being a Good Enough Wife & Mom…

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