The day my daughter was born I found myself falling in love for the second time in my life. As soon as she entered the world and was placed on my chest, tears leaked out of my eyes and streamed down my cheeks. I was still shaking uncontrollably from the physical task that had just taken place, but all I could think while I held her was …a baby girl… a beautiful baby girl… the light in my heart had taken on a physical form. Like her brother, I loved her so deeply and so intensely from the minute I held her that I could feel it inside my body. It was like a physical pressure was being placed on my heart as it swelled even larger with affection for this perfect little human being.
Taking care of a newborn and a 20 month old wasn’t easy, but it was the most rewarding (and intense) thing I have ever done. I have never smiled, laughed or cried so much in my life. As I did when my son was born, I did all of the nighttime feedings while John slept. I still cooked all of the meals, did all of the laundry and the cleaning and took care of James and now Quinn as well. My days and nights were full…. but so was my heart… so I was happy.
Then, when Quinn was about 3 weeks old, I was walking across the kitchen and all of a sudden my legs gave out. I felt the most intense pain I have ever felt emanating from my back and shooting down my legs. I had no idea what was going on, but I couldn’t even take a single step. Somehow I managed to get myself over to the couch, but the pain remained. I tried ice… I tried heat … I even let John convince me that it would be a good idea if I laid on the floor and let him yank me up really quickly to somehow realign my back. (Boy was that an insanely painful mistake.)
I knew I needed to see a doctor, but there was no way that I could drive myself in this condition. I couldn’t even walk. I asked John if he could take Monday off from work to take me. He said he couldn’t. He had a very important meeting at work. I asked if he could look at his schedule for the week to see if he had any time at all to bring me. He said he just didn’t have any time. This was an extremely busy time at work and he just couldn’t take any time off.
So each morning that week he would carry Quinn down the stairs for me as my legs would give out unexpectedly and I didn’t want to drop her down the stairs. I would sit on the couch and he would put a pile of diapers and wipes near me for when she needed to be changed. For a week this went on. When she needed to be changed I would put her head down on the changing pad that was on the ottoman in front of me and slowly push her body up. I would then use my arms to try and push my body forward on the couch. (The pain I was feeling was worse than the pain I felt during childbirth.) I would change her diaper, pick her up and then shimmy my body back into a sitting position.
When John got home from work he’d take her from my arms so I could attempt to stand up and walk to the bathroom. Every night I would say that I really needed to get to a doctor. Every night he would tell me he couldn’t find the time to take me. Then one night I called my sister in tears. I didn’t know what to do. I was in so much pain. I was trying to take care of a toddler and a newborn. I was so afraid that I was going to drop her by accident or an emergency would arise and I wouldn’t be able to get her out of the house. My sister told me she would take a day off from work and take me to the doctor.
That night, when John returned from work, I told him about my conversation with my sister and that she was going to take me to the doctor. I was so relieved that I might get some help that I didn’t take the time to think about what his reaction would be. He was not happy. He became angry with me, but the end result was that HE would take me to the doctor. My sister was NOT to take the day off and take me. The next day he took an hour off from work in the morning and drove me to the local emergency room. Turns out I had somehow herniated a disc in my back and would need to go to physical therapy. The doctor asked me why I hadn’t come in sooner. I didn’t know what to say. John was sitting right there.
It took me about 5 years of physical therapy and chiropractic visits to fully restore my back. Even now I need to be careful so that I don’t re-injure it. But what I learned from this interaction with John is that my safety and well being never mattered to him… not if it inconvenienced him even a tiny bit ….even if it put his newborn at risk.