Juggling the Fatigue of Crohn's and Motherhood
People often ask, "what does fatigue from a chronic illness feel like?" It can be difficult to describe. It's much different than feeling tired or like you didn't get enough shut-eye the night before. For those who have been pregnant, it feels very similar to that first trimester fatigue that makes everything exhausting. It feels like my legs are jello and my brain is in a fog. Simple tasks such as going for a walk, getting ready for the day, or playing with my son on the floor seem overwhelming.
When you feel like you're failing
Juggling motherhood and chronic illness can be very trying. Your focus each and every day is on a little person who is completely dependent on you. If you struggle to make the most of your day, you can feel like a failure. I'm talking about those days when it's absolutely gorgeous outside and you tell yourself when you see that forecast days ahead of time that you'll make the most of it and go for a walk with the stroller or take your child to the park. Then, that day approaches and, in between diaper changes and feedings, all you feel capable of is snuggling on the couch.
The fatigue we face with chronic illness is not something that can be fixed by a few cups of coffee or sleeping in. It's always looming. It's similar to what it feels like when you feel the flu or a sickness coming on; those moments when all you want to do is lie down. Along with the fatigue comes guilt. I often think to myself that I'm only 34 years old, I shouldn't be this tired from carrying a couple loads of laundry up and down the stairs while my baby naps. This past week, I took my son on a walk because we randomly had a beautiful winter day. Less than 30 minutes in, I felt so tired that we had to turn around and go home.
We are our children's superhero
At the end of the day, despite feeling like you are not doing enough, you have to remember to tell yourself you are. Parenting coupled with chronic illness is no easy task and, in our child's eyes, we're a superhero. They may not be able to articulate it now, but each time they smile at you or snuggle in your lap, they're telling you that you're doing a good job. Someday when they're old enough, they will understand that some days are better than others for Mommy, but they'll always know they are loved. And just like we've all gained life perspective as people with chronic illness, they, too, will have a different way of looking at and understanding the world.
Just like dealing with the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, it takes time to learn your new identity as both a patient and a parent. It's not going to happen overnight. I know I need to tell myself that taking time to slow down and going at my own pace is fine. My son is thriving. Each day he is growing so fast and so am I.
What type of IBD have you been diagnosed with?