All who know me agree that I have become rather accident prone. In the last couple of years I have both fractured my arm and broken a rib, and two weeks ago I slipped at the bottom of our stairs landing on the top of my back, which is still sore.
Yesterday S was playing with Frida in the dining room, and he called me over to see how well she was practicing sitting up in her high chair. Delighted, I ran back out to grab my phone to take a photo. Except I didn’t make it that far – it turns out slippery socks and smooth wooden floorboards aren’t natural allies, and I went flying, this time landing on my lower back (and bashing my head on the door frame for good measure).
Pure agony, as I struggled to keep calm and quiet to avoid alarming Frida, whilst realising I couldn’t really move. Begging S for the strongest painkillers in the house. Dragging myself from the floor to the sofa. Panic setting in as the paramedic on the phone told me I couldn’t breastfeed after taking dihydro-codeine, after I already had taken it. Tears on the phone to my mum. Weeping because I don’t express, and Frida is exclusively breastfed. Hysterical crying because I needed to feed our daughter safely. S cycling to the nearest shop and buying emergency pre-made formula. Taking agonising steps up to the bedroom to finally lie on the bed. Trying to syringe feed her some formula whilst I cried. Frida looking at us with disgust, not swallowing, letting it trickle out of her mouth all over her clothes. A phone call from the doctor telling me it was ok to feed her, but not to take strong painkillers again. A long drink for Frida. Pain for me. Relief.
Sick days have always been rubbish. But pre-Frida there used to be something almost pleasingly routine about them. The phone call to work excusing yourself of your duties. The obligation to go back to sleep, to drink hot lemon and honey, to focus on getting better as soon as possible. Resting whatever hurt. Painkillers. The bad films, the bad novels. Supper in bed.
Now it’s not so simple. Sickness isn’t about me any more – it’s just something in the way of me caring for my daughter in the best possible way. My first thoughts whenever I’m in pain or fear I’m coming down with something are about how I can keep her healthy and fed and entertained, and how I can get better to care for her. My mother used to say to me that she didn’t have time to be ill, and it’s only now that I really understand what she meant. I now come second.
I’m currently lying in bed a day later, eating chocolate with wild abandon and taking paracetamol every four hours on the dot. I can just about get to the bathroom unaided, but that’s it. I can’t pick Frida up, take her for a walk, or change her nappy. S does everything apart from her food, when she is brought to me for a long milky cuddle, often followed by a nap curled up with me. I feel so frustrated. There is nothing pleasing about this situation – I have forgotten how to relax, how to make the best of being bed-bound.
After yesterday I’m terrified of something happening to me and my not being able to feed her for longer than a few hours. I think I might have to buy a pump, if only to build up a store of my milk in the freezer for her, in case of emergency. I’m not thrilled by the idea, but I can’t bear the idea of her not being able to drink breast milk. So I will do what so many other mamas do and use my precious down time to pump for her. I really do come second, and that’s how it should be.
FYI: The Breastfeeding Network have some very useful fact sheets on drugs and breastfeeding which I recommend to anyone breastfeeding and using medication.