Have children, they said. It will be fun, they said.
What they failed to mention was the never-ending stream of illnesses and diseases I would inevitably contract from the little germ factories. Of course, I love my babies and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but if I make it to their high school graduation without winding up in some sort of institution I will be very surprised. Most of the time the illnesses are minor: colds, flus, rashes, pink eye. They’re nothing a little sleep and antibiotics can’t cure. However, there are a few, more subtle, disorders I have developed since having children that are not so easy to treat*.
Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy is a chronic brain disorder that involves poor control of sleep-wake cycles. People with narcolepsy experience periods of extreme daytime sleepiness and sudden, irresistible bouts of sleep that can strike at any time. These “sleep attacks” usually last a few seconds to several minutes (Source).
When my first son was two months old, I hadn’t slept more than two consecutive hours since before he was born. I rarely had a break. He only napped for half an hour at a time and only in my arms after being vigorously danced to sleep for no less than twenty minutes. I’ve never been so tired in my life. One Saturday morning I escaped for a rare shower while my husband pranced around with our screaming infant.
The warm water felt wonderful as it fell rhythmically on my back and shoulders. It sounded like rain on the roof during a summer storm. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by a desire to sit down, so I lowered my heavy frame dreamily to the floor. The next thing I knew I was slumped against the little seat insert in the shower, the water was cold, and my foot was on pins and needles. I had no idea how long I’d been asleep.
Hypochondria: Hypochondria is a belief that physical symptoms are signs of a serious illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of an illness (Source).
I mentioned before about how my children spread more communicable diseases than the monkey from the movie Outbreak. Every little sound or snuffle that they make sends up a big quarantine red flag.
Me: Was that a cough?
Husband: I don’t know.
Me: Or was it more of a sneeze?
Husband: I didn’t hear anything.
Me: I think it was a cough.
Me: Well, if it was a cough maybe I should put the humidifier on.
Me: But if it was a sneeze then it could be allergies. What if he’s allergic to mold and the humidifier is just making it worse.
Husband: Then don’t put the humidifier on.
Me: … I think it was a cough. Can allergies cause a cough?
This is like the Who’s On First skit for illnesses. It goes on forever, but in this case it’s not funny: it’s just sad.
Over-active Bladder Syndrome: Overactive bladder is a problem with bladder-storage function that causes a sudden urge to urinate. The urge may be difficult to stop, and overactive bladder may lead to the involuntary loss of urine, or incontinence (Source).
When my first son was a year old I joined a local gym and started attending a Muay Thai Kickboxing class. I loved it. My whole body felt powerful and independent in a way that it hadn’t been since getting pregnant. It was freeing and exciting. Unfortunately, we always started the class the same way: alternating running lap with jumping jacks.
Two jacks in to the set I knew I was going to have a problem. I couldn’t control it. Every time I thudded onto the ground, and believe me it was every bit as graceful as it sounds, my muscles “down there” relaxed. By the time the warm-up was over I was sure I had a visible wet spot on my pants. I found myself wishing that people would assume I just as a really sweaty butt-crack. There’s something I never thought I’d say when I was younger.
The more I exercised and strengthened my core muscles, the less trouble I had with leakage, but that wasn’t enough for me. I didn’t want to minimize the problem. I wanted to vanquish it. I wanted it gone. I was 29 years old. I did not need to be wearing a sanitary pad to work out. So I bought a pair of Ben Wa balls and started working out my pelvic floor. If you’d like to see how that turned out, click HERE.
Schizophrenia: People with Schizophrenia may hear voices other people don’t hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them (Source).
I find that this is most common when I’m out shopping without the children. For the first 6-9 months of both their lives they were literally attached to me by the boob. I couldn’t go anywhere alone. So if I needed to get some grocery shopping done, the baby was coming with me.
It was a fact of life; I never questioned it. Now that my children are both past that stage, I save my grocery shopping for days when I can leave them at home. But my sleep-deprived brain is slower to adjust to changes than the rest of me. I frequently find myself wandering aimlessly through the aisles of the grocery store narrating (out loud!) what I’m doing for the child that isn’t there with me. I even use the plural form when talking to the invisible baby in the grocery cart.
Hmm, now where’s the ketchup?
We just have to find the bread and we’ll be on our way.
Oops, that’s the wrong aisle. Silly me.
I’m not kidding. I don’t even notice that I’m doing it until I walk past an actual person and notice that they are looking at me strangely. I am also frequently caught rocking the cart forward and backward while waiting at the deli counter or pondering which jar of spaghetti sauce to buy. I wouldn’t want that invisible baby to get fussy while we wait.
One of these days I fully expect the men in the white coats with the straight jackets to haul me out of the store.
Maybe then I could get some sleep.
*Disclaimer: The disorders listed above are serious illness, and it is not my intention to minimize that fact or make fun of anyone suffering from them. It is, however, my intention to make light of the fact that parenting makes us all a little crazy, and to make fun of myself in the process. I do not believe my children have really caused any of these disorders in me or anyone one else. Please take this post in the spirit with which it was intended: silliness. 🙂