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How to be a mother when you are coughing up a lung

By Heather Oman

It’s been a rough couple of months over here at my house. At the end of January, I broke my foot, which was surprisingly traumatic, and definitely dramatic. The drama may have been a little overplayed on my part, but heLLO, my foot is on fire! I can’t walk! Maintaining even the smallest level of personal hygiene is a major effort! Have YOU ever tried to sit on a toilet without putting even the teeniest amount of weight on one foot? I had a boot on for 4 weeks, and then, horror of horrors, when the boot came off, my right leg was SMALLER than my LEFT! I’m like a lopsided polio patient! And my foot is still too weak to do calve raises, so who knows how long I’ll have to be asymmetrical. And I was scheduled to run a 10K at the end of this month, my first race in over a year! I had PAID THE FEE AND EVERYTHING! AAAAAARRGH!

And just when I was getting my mojo back, when I was into the groove of reclaiming my house and my garden from the forces of entropy, I got kicked in the chest by bronchitis. So just as I had stopped writhing in pain about my foot at night, I develop a cough. A cough that keeps me and everybody else in the house from sleeping. A cough so loud and so long that I pee just a little every time. (Childbirth==the gift that keeps on giving.)

I figured out what kind of toll this was taking on my kids when I trudged from my bed down to dinner the other night. My 10 year old sort of patted my hand, and said, “Is it just me, or have you been spending a LOT of time in bed lately?”

He’s not wrong.

So yesterday, I tried to power through it. Well, sort of. I slept in until around 10, allowing again for the forces of entropy (he’s 10) and chaos (she’s 4) to engulf my home. I’ll clean it up later, I told myself, and got up late to face the day. I got myself and my daughter breakfast, and then we snuggled watching some shows on Netflix. I still felt foggy, and decided a nice hot shower would do the trick, and then I should throw in a load of laundry, just for good measure. I did both of those things, and felt, if anything, even worse. I finally decided to take my temperature, and gave myself permission to lie down when the thermometer read 100.0.

I’m not a fighter. Even on a good day, I’m not particularly productive, and I’ve been known to stay in my pajamas well past noon without having a temperature, just because I can. I am also not a fan of powering through sickness, just because I think crazy people do that and you should just let your body rest already, crazy.

But I have spent so much time lying down the last two months, and I have seen the effects of atrophy on my body and on my family, that when I told myself to take a nap this afternoon, it was like my body said, “Really? REALLY? Dude, you keep this up, and in 2 days your 4 year old will be able to beat you in an arm wrestle.” It’s like I’m ready to get back in the swing of things, REALLY ready to get back in the swing of things, and the universe says, “Ha ha, nice try, SUCKA!”

So how do you be a mom when you are not exactly running at 100%? What do YOU do on mom’s sick day?

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

10 thoughts on “How to be a mother when you are coughing up a lung”

  1. I keep threatening to go to Motel 6 when I'm sick because my family has a hard time disentangling me from being the CEO of the home. I have to tell them repeatedly to let me sleep and to forage for food until I recover. I admit to trying to power through illness, but in the last couple of years, I'm trying harder to just detach from domestic duties and get better fast rather than dragging it out with denying my body rest. Get well soon, Heather.

  2. This is a hard question for me to answer. Chronic sick means the whole family's mojo just changes. I fight it and then I pay for it, and then I accept it. It's like I go through the grief cycle on a regular basis.

    Here's to hoping your cycle is almost over and done with.

  3. I'm fighting plantar fasciitis in both feet. I am ready to take a flamethrower to my whole house. I can't live like this! But I am also learning German, so I hope to think of this as the year I learned German, not the year I laid in bed.
    I just take it a day at a time.

  4. I tell my kids I'm not feeling well, and need to take it easy. All non-essential jobs are ignored (pretty much everything except having clean bowls/cups to use) and I ask the boys to stuff for me (like wash the dishes).

    Getting over the guilt is the hardest thing for me. It seems so wrong to be in bed/on the lounge doing NOTHING when there are so many other things I should be doing. So I give myself permission to have the day/s off to get better.

    Hope you keep your lungs inside!

  5. Besides the usual coughs, colds and flu, I once found myself on oxygen for a month after a week in the hospital with double pneumonia (during which my then five-year-old daughter came to see me wearing the very same dirty shirt for five days in a row) and some time later on laid up with an ACL repair (patellar tendon graft, which is not a fun recovery). My favorite moments of both those times was hearing my husband tell me "Don't worry about the dirty toilets." He never cleaned them. He just told me not to worry about them.

    Feel better–all the way better– soon!

  6. I broke my foot when I had three small kids. It was really hard. I developed a lot more compassion for others through that experience.

  7. Know that your kids will forgive and forget. I remember when my mom got pneumonia when I was ten with 4 siblings younger than me. I don't remember much, but I remember her being in bed since she couldn't power through anymore and somehow we all survived.

    Get that nap if you need it, when you feel better, you will be ready to get out again. Until then, it is okay.

  8. I'm sorry you're feeling so badly. When I'm sick I let my kids trash the house and forage for food. Even 18 month olds can find food if they have to.

  9. I've missed seeing your posts at Segullah. I'm sorry to hear that you have been through so much since your last post. I hope you are feeling good soon and up to running 5K or 10K!


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