“I wasn’t just putting myself last, I wasn’t even putting myself in LINE.”
It’s the revelation I had in a specific moment in early motherhood when I’d hit my breaking point. With my back against my kitchen island, I sat on the floor curled in a ball — and I. just. sobbed into my breastmilk-stained sweatshirt.
On the other side of the island, my four- and two-year-old toddlers were quietly playing with blocks, and my couple-months-old baby was finally nursed to sleep in her bassinet. The lack of sound was a stark contrast to the chaos of meltdowns that had filled the air that entire morning.
When I walked into my kitchen, the heaviness jolted me like the sound of a surprise thunder strike.
It’s not that a scene like this hadn’t played out dozens of times before. As a mom of three kids under four, frankly… it was quite standard.
But something that day made the heavy of it all unbearable.
I hadn’t touched my hair since my son had pulled me out of bed begging for breakfast.
I was still in the clothes in which I had slept that I’m pretty were the same shirt and pants I had worn the day before.
I was running on three hours of sleep.
I was days behind on returning emails and phone calls to clients.
I hadn’t taken a bite to eat despite being awake for two hours.
Whatever I had left that day came out in the broken dam of tears on my kitchen floor.
I was exhausted.
It was the moment I knew something had to change — the moment I realized that this society-fed notion that mothers needed to give up everything to be good mothers wasn’t healthy. The moment I realized that I had to put myself on the list of people to care for if I was going to be able to care for those around me. The day I realized that I didn’t deserve to feel like that, and my kids didn’t deserve a not-well-cared-for mom.
That day was the start of an evolving journey of understanding how important it is for moms to care for themselves.
But even five years later, I can still find myself in that “something needs to change” mode. And if I’m being honest, I’m in it now.
While I’ve stayed on top of my kids’ dentist appointments…I haven’t been to mine since I moved to Pittsburgh in 2018.
While I encourage my kids to get outside and exercise… I make my own excuses as to why I don’t have time to move my body that day.
While I am constantly checking in on my kids’ mental health as their little minds navigate this strange year…I’ve been struggling with my own anxiety, yet not reaching out to my therapist.
While I am on top of my parents and making sure they’re staying on top of their medical appointments … I haven’t even scheduled an annual exam since 2018.
This is not ok.
NOT taking care of my health … is NOT ok.
I’m living in those years where I’m past the pregnant-or-nursing phase where regular checkups with my OB/GYN made sure I talked to a doctor regularly. But I’m also not quite to the recommended age for screening for other health issues that give me that extra nudge to make an appointment.
But I AM at the age where my kids are active and life is busy, and it’s easy to let things slide and put things off. And I have.
But just because I’m not refereeing toddler meltdowns or nursing newborns anymore doesn’t mean I am not still the same human being who sat on the floor that day five years ago and told herself she deserved better.
I. DESERVE. BETTER than how I’ve been taking care of myself lately.
Something, friends … needs to change.
For me, it starts this week.
Today, I start putting myself in line again by going to my annual exam appointment. Nobody “likes” it. It’s not fun. And candidly, after spending so many personal years with the physician who cared for me through a miscarriage and three subsequent pregnancies when we lived in another state… I’m also a little nervous about the process of building trust with a new doctor.
But, after searching through some physicians on the Allegheny Health Network website, I found a video by Dr. Yancey who is part of the Northern Regional OB/GYN with an office at the Wexford Health Pavilion. Her words about her compassionate approach to her care was something that resonated with me and made me feel like taking that first step of building a new relationship was going to be ok.
So by choosing to see her, I’m also choosing ME again.
MY HEALTH is important.
Because I can’t care for my family if I don’t have my health to do it.
None of us can.
So friends, I know life is intense right now. I know it’s a stretch to find an hour that you’re not helping with homework, or returning emails, or grocery shopping for your family, or running your own kids to their appointments. But we matter. And YOU matter.
Find that new doctor or reach back out to the one you haven’t been to in a while.
You deserve it.
To learn more about AHN’s approach to compassionate care while serving YOU and your health needs, visit www.ahn.org.