Phoning a Friend
It’s the height of flu season and today I was super sick. My husband is working nights. I have a clingy almost 2-year-old and I’m 30 weeks pregnant.
So what did I wake up thinking? Absolutely nothing different. Hubby will sleep, I get Ava up for bath, breakfast. Maybe we can watch movies together since I’m not feeling well. I hope she poops today.
During my last month of pregnancy with Ava I had a slew of medical problems. I had quadriceps tendonitis and couldn’t walk after literally running between hospitals to take care of patients. If anyone knows how hilly Pittsburgh is, they know that nobody should run the mile incline from Magee Women’s hospital up to the VA – pregnant or not.
At the begging of my orthopedic surgeon, “Arti, I really don’t want to have to do surgery on a 9 month pregnant lady,” I sort of took two days off – I did rehab at home over a weekend and covered the inpatient consult service overnight by phone.
I returned to work on the inpatient service on the busiest month of the year, January. I developed pneumonia, could not sleep at night due to a productive cough for the last month of my pregnancy and broke a rib from the hacking cough.
Thanks to my iPhone’s activity tracker, I knew I would walk 4 miles between hospitals and up and down stairs before noon. I had such severe edema in my legs, I gained 20 pounds just from the swelling in that last month. I thought I was getting fat, but when I was below pre-pregnancy weight within two weeks of delivery, I knew the swelling was legit.
I have no health problems normally and I’d had a very healthy pregnancy until the end. Ultimately Ava came into the world after an arduous 40-hour labor that ended in an urgent c-section. My OB could only chalk up the complications to the stress I’d put my body through in the few weeks leading up. All this because partially, I feared the consequences of advocating for myself and because I really thought I was doing the right thing by not requesting help.
Flash forward to this weekend. Hubby came home from a long night shift – his fifth night out seven. Luckily he’s an intensivist who sees the sickest. After checking my vitals, he got the toddler up and ready and insisted we need to ask for help. I hemmed and hawed. He finally convinced me by saying our daughter needed limited exposure to me so she doesn’t get sick, too.
We phoned a friend, and I felt awful. I would happily help anyone in the same situation, but asking for help seemed like asking for so much. For the sake of my kid and so my husband could get some sleep, I acquiesced.
He dropped us off, I loaded up on Tamiflu and cough syrup, and crashed in my friend’s guestroom while my daughter played with her’s, ate lunch and napped. I felt so much better than I would have if I’d stayed home by myself and tried to do it myself. And as far as I know, my friend still likes me.
I’m not the only one who has this awful and wonderful combo of being a type A physician mom who thinks she should be able to do everything alone. But sometimes, we just need a little help from our friends, and having the courage to ask can save everyone a lot of trouble in the end.