A few weeks ago I spent the night in hospital due to a nasty bout of tonsillitis. Going into the hospital, I wanted to be admitted. I knew I needed an IV full of fluids and antibiotics because I couldn’t swallow anything myself. But it wasn’t just that.
I wanted a full nights sleep. I wanted a break from breastfeeding. I wanted peace and quiet. I wanted to be waited on. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted a rest.
I had so many messages from other parents saying how much they hated their first night away from their baby, how hard it was and how they really felt for me and wished me luck.
But you know what – I was fine. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it, but I certainly didn’t hate it. I needed it. Ozzy is breastfed and refuses all bottles out there (THIS WAS TRUE WHEN I WROTE IT BUT WE HAVE HAD A REVELATION SINCE! POST ABOUT TRANSITION OVER TO BOTTLES HERE) so I’ve never really had much time away from him. I always said it was fine because I didn’t need it, he is a relatively chilled baby anyway. But it took getting ill to make me realise how much I needed it.
I loved sleeping alone in bed without a baby or husband in the way. Does that make me a bad mother and wife?
I loved hearing silence all night rather than white noise or a baby babbling away.
I loved sleeping from 10-6, and I didn’t even dream of my baby.
I loved that my boobs were my own for a full 15 hours.
I loved drinking a cup of tea in the morning before it went cold, and I loved having an adult conversation with someone about my career rather than shitty nappies.
I loved being switched off and listening to podcasts rather than discussing if the baby is hungry or tired or if he needs Calpol.
I loved sending Tom and Ozzy away at the end of visiting hours so I could have some peace and quiet.
I loved not having to be responsible for anyone but myself, and putting my rest and health above someone else’s. I didn't even do that during my first few months postpartum even though my body was broken and bleeding and needed to slow down.
I did miss them. I wanted to smell Ozzy’s hair and hold his little hand. I wanted to make him laugh and see his little teeth smiling back at me. I wanted to lay in bed with Tom and talk about our days, or our upcoming holiday. But what I wanted more than all of this was to sleep, and rest, and hydrate.
I did miss them, but my heart didn’t ache. Not in the way it perhaps should have. Does that make me a terrible wife and mother? Maybe I was so tired and so thirsty and so desperate for food that I didn't have the emotional capacity to think about anything else.
I’d like to turn this into a positive, not a negative. Maybe I’m not all that terrible. Maybe after 8 months of being a full time mother, I needed a little break. Maybe severe tonsillitis and dehydration was my body begging me to take a time out. It’s certainly the best sleep I have had since Ozzy arrived! Maybe I don’t remember to drink enough during the day, so that bag of fluid through the night did me a world of good. Maybe rather than a night out with the girls or a spa break, I just needed a night of doing absolutely nothing stuck to a bed being looked after.
I do know that in the morning I was delighted to see my boys. I felt well enough to be a mum and a wife again, and to give them the best of me – which they wouldn’t have had the day before.
I think the lesson I will take from this is that even if you don’t think you need a time out, maybe you do. And if you need to put yourself before your child, maybe that doesn’t make you a terrible parent? Maybe once you get a chance to look after yourself for a change, you will come back as an even better parent. Being a full time mum can be wonderful, but it’s unrelenting, and after 8 months of that – surely anyone would need a break?!
Thanks tonsils for pushing me to take a break, who knew 24 hours of antibiotics and fluids could make this mum feel so rejuvenated? Maybe a spa break would be nicer for next time though.