After Tess’ last heart surgery, and all the stuff that occurred during it, I had a little trouble coming back to reality. She struggled with a little bit of PTSD, and it turns out, I did too. Being a nurse, I’m always pretty upfront about struggles with the emotional stuff that comes after a trauma. I know the blow it can cause to your health.
I found myself so focused on Tess, that I lost my foothold on my own health and wellness. I’m usually pretty good about this. I have learned, through trial and error, that when the Oxygen masks drop, I had better put on mine first.
During Tess’ recovery period, and Cate’s adoption, and then eye enucleation, just seven months prior to that, I had set aside my own physical wellness. When you’re stuck at home for long periods with a child who is adjusting, and then recovering, and another child who is REALLY recovering, you lose a little of yourself. I started to eat garbage and I never worked out. Any health and fitness regimen I had was gone.
I reached out through social media to see if I could find a little tribe to run with. It didn’t work. I was starting from ground zero again because of where my life was, and people can’t be expected to stop their life to restart mine. So, I was on my own. I decided I needed something to motivate me, something near and dear to my heart.
Right then, that was Tess.
She had lived through the unimaginable, and she was coming out the other side of it amazingly well. I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel for her in terms of healing. So, when the therapist recommended I pick a run where I could honor Tess, and all she had been through, and do what I love most, helping others rise, I listened. I sought out a 5 mile race that benefitted the children’s hospital that saved Tess’ life.
In one month, I’ll run that race. I’ve done 5Ks before, but this is a 5 miler. That small increase in distance was enough to get me back on the treadmill and into a training regimen. This week will complete that training. I’ll have run the 4.5 miles that will lead up to the race. I’m going to continue to slowly ratchet up the distance I run until I can do a 10K that honors Tess, and now Gigi, and their amazing hearts. My goal is to do that 10K prior to Gigi coming home, and then, when she does, I’m going to give myself some grace, because it is likely that, for awhile, I will need some time off. Again, another small Chinese girl with a broken heart will become my focus. I am so blessed by that.
I don’t often talk about the things I do well. If you know me in real life, you’ll know that when someone compliments me, I can’t handle it. I always tell the person thank you, but then attribute the compliment to Joe, or to the kids, or to the amazing village we have. It is all very true.
This one was all me though.
So, I’m going to take that success for just a moment, bask in it, and then spread it around a little. We Heart Moms are a tough stock. We need to honor our strength too. Our babies, small and large, live through unimaginable things. We watch it happen, we woman up, and we get ready for the next setback, milestone, or success. Some of us cope by starting foundations that raise huge amounts of money. Some of us go on to help advocate for the kids who have no advocate. Some of us strap on our running shoes and run off the pain. That is amazing too.
Joe, Ally, Cam, Brady, AJ and I will all be running in Big Al’s Run and Walk to benefit the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin on September 19, 2015. You can honor Tess too, and we won’t even make you run, by going to her page and hitting the ‘Donate Now’ button. It’s our goal to raise $500 in her honor. We also have a team going. We are currently 10 members strong. If you love to run, or even want to walk, and will be in or around the Milwaukee area next month, you can join her team and we’ll see you on race day! I’m not usually a hugger, but I’ll probably do it should you appear at that starting line. The emotion, I’m pretty sure it will be overwhelming.
Above and beyond all else, if you’re struggling, and feel like everyone else needs and needs and needs, and you have nothing left to give, then it might be time to strap on your own Oxygen mask first. From me to you, it’s okay to say you need time too.
–FullPlateMom, who would love to hear your stories of self-care. What do you do for YOU?!?