Navigating Motherhood & Chronic Illness

The last year and a half has been a whirlwind – not only with the new realities of a world in the throws of Covid, but with my own health conditions. From pregnancy complications to new chronic illnesses to my recent battle with Covid (all four of us at once), I’ve been trying to learn how to navigate motherhood and these chronic health concerns.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my home – in my bed – and I’ve tried to figure out my “new normal”. What I can expect from reality now. For example, this morning included sunglasses in the house, compression gloves, and a lot of TV time for me and the kids. As well as two rounds of medications…with more supplements and meds to finish off the day.

I know there are a lot of other mommas out there navigating this reality of life with chronic illness & motherhood. And, unlike the images many picture, most of us aren’t elderly.
We’re moms in our 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Wishing we could get down and play with our kids.
Wishing one load of laundry didn’t send us to bed.
Wishing we could get out of the home more often.
Wishing for one day without pain or fatigue or any number of other symptoms.
Wishing we didn’t have to trade our original dreams for new ones.
Adjusting our expectations of ourselves.
Yearning for the understanding of others.

So, in light of that, how do we navigate this reality of motherhood & chronic illness?

Some ways I’m dealing with it are:

  • Adjusting my expectations: I honestly have spent so much time at home the last year and a half. I’ve been frustrated with myself when I can’t do things, when I’ve been separated from my kids, when I have to rely on my husband more than I’d like. Over time, my expectations have adjusted to match my levels. To match this new reality. This has curbed the anxiety and depression I have felt in response to all these illnesses. Simply adjusting what I expect from myself, my kids, and my husband in this season, I’ve gotten better & stronger.
  • Adjusting how I interact with my babies: I can’t just get down on the floor and play with my kids for hours a day. I can’t chase them around. And, as a one car family without a fenced yard, we can’t even go out as often as I’d like. But, what I can do is sing to them. I can read to them. I can play with them in short bursts, and I can color with them. We watch WAY more TV than I’d have like, but that goes into my adjusted expectations for this new reality. We eat together, we go to church together, and now that we live in a place with better weather, we’ve gone for drives and out to parks a lot more. They get time with mom and dad. I know they are too young to know what’s going on, but I also know they are aware that mom is always here, even if she’s stuck in bed.
  • Asking for help when I need it: I have to rely on my husband and family a lot more than I’d like to. Which is hard now that I live so far from my family. I’ve always been independent. I’m an achiever, and I want to be able to do things. Now, though, I know I have to ask for help. I had my husband cut up our veggies for lunches and dinners this week, so they’d be prepped and I wouldn’t have to do it (cutting is one activity that exhausts me within minutes and causes a lot of pain). I use frozen foods, packaged foods, and a lot of hubby’s cooking (which I used to do most of). Rely on your support system and do things the easiest way possible.
  • Getting my supplements & medications streamlined and organized: Because of the IBD, my body doesn’t absorb all the nutrients it needs. Due to the anxiety/depression & the fibromyalgia, I do have to rely on some prescriptions. Getting them streamlined & organized means I have a better chance of taking them, and then feeling better. Being streamlined means I only take what I need, and let my body do the rest. My best days are the days when I allow the supplements to do most of the work, and only use the prescriptions I NEED, rather than every one offered me.
  • Learning to give myself so much grace: I struggle with Grace. I know God’s got grace for me, but I struggle to give it to myself. That is changing. I’m learning to have grace for myself, even if my new motherhood looks nothing like what I thought it would. Even when I make frozen or packaged food. Even when I can’t play with them as much. Even when I have to have time in bed. Even when I can’t work on my writing or my business. I’m learning to give grace, especially coupled with asking for help, changing my expectations, and remaining productive when/where I can.
  • Staying creative & productive – in new ways: From changing how the business runs, to helping clean up at the end of the day, to just trying to get home chores done, I’m finding new ways to be productive and creative. And, I’m changing how much I make myself do, even on the “good days”. It’s the whole thing of managing spoons.
  • Pulling closer to God – trusting Him in healing or otherwise: In the book of Job, we see Job enduring so much and still remaining faithful. One thing I’ve learned from the Old and New Testament is God can handle our complaints & grumbling, but it’s what we do in light of those complaints and grumblings that will determine our continued fellowship with Him. Asking Him to draw us in, to heal us, but trusting him regardless of healing, that’s where our integrity stays in tact. I know that He is still a good, just, and gracious God, whether I’m ever healed or not. I pull closer to Him, allowing Him to reveal new aspects of myself and of His character through this hard time. This side of heaven may not be my healing place, but it doesn’t have to be an end to my trust in Him or my work for the Kingdom.

There will be a lot more in the coming days. It is my heart, now more than ever, to build a community of moms who want to embrace the chaos and live creatively fulfilled – no matter their circumstances.

In the coming days, there will be more announcements and ways for you to get coaching to build a creatively fulfilled life with chronic mental or physical illness. God has kept my heart alive for this, and I have been working behind the scenes to really see this community come alive.

If you’re a spoonie momma, this is the place for you. This is where we’re learning to navigating motherhood and invisible illness. We’re learning to embrace the chaos of life and live creatively fulfilled no matter what’s going on in and around us. I’m so glad you’re here.

Share below your tips for motherhood and chronic illness. Or, your questions about motherhood and chronic illness.

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