Minor Surgery, Major Mom Guilt
If you have at all been following along on Instagram you know that I had a minor surgery this week to remove my gallbladder.
I've been having "gallbladder attacks" for almost two months now. They're a source of very strong pain, and are no fun. The threat of having one is the only way I was able to successfully adhere to the strictest diet I've ever been on, in an attempt to pass the gallstones but keep my gallbladder.
Well last Sunday night I suffered a terrible gallbladder attack. I was also suffering from severe nausea and dizziness. I muscled through the pain as long as I could until I went to the ER because it became completely unmanageable. At the ER I learned my gallbladder was inflamed and needed to be surgically removed. So they admitted me to the hospital and prepped me for surgery.
Beyond all this physical pain, I was an absolute mess.
My sweet Isla absolutely refused to take a bottle. I swore I could hear her crying from my hospital room. My heart beat loudly in my chest the way it does when she cries in my presence.
My baby needs me, and I am not there for her.
Those words ran through my mind loudly as though it were my own creed.
I fought off the fentanyl-induced sleep, and the crazy bouts of nausea to pump for her the best I could. I prayed and prayed and prayed that she would eat. I called my pediatrician barely able to talk, just hoping some final tip would do the trick. Each time I pumped I noticed the amount go down. I was making less and less milk for my baby. I thought I might end up failing her entirely.
I went through the surgery later that day and woke up asking about Isla. My baby needs me, and I am not there for her. I was crushed. I emotionally texted a friend who was not having it (so funny looking back on that), and called Ryan crying. My calls to Ryan made things worse of course as I could hear my baby crying in the background.
I think it's then that I realized, as silly as it may sound, that in addition to having a wounded (now excavated) gallbladder, I also had suffered a wound to my motherhood--an ontological trait of mine that transcends to my very being.
I wasn't making a mountain out of a molehill. I shouldn't just offer it up. I was hurting. I was wounded.
I needed to heal. If I had just sucked it up, stuck the Catholic sticker of "offer it up" on myself as though a badge of honor, I would have deprived myself of the tending needed to my own wound.
(Authentic offering of suffering does not come from "being strong" but rather by bringing God into weakness.)
& it's then that I realized the primacy of place my healing needed to take.
So I took a deep breath and asked for the grace to set myself free of this prison I had made. It's okay that I had a medical emergency. It's okay that it made other people's lives a little harder, temporarily. It's okay that Isla necessitated unhappy syringe feeds. It's okay that I was emotional about it. And it's okay that I emoted it.
I went through every single "mom guilt" prison I had made, and literally said "it's okay" to each one in my mind. I surrendered those guilts where they belong. And I thanked God for the grace to do that.
As for me now, I'm mending well. I came home and fed Isla. She reached to hold my hand as I nursed her, as though to reaffirm that it really all was okay.