When my son was ten months old, I broke my right arm. Talk about a lifestyle change! I was nursing full time, co-sleeping most nights, and responding to his every need and then suddenly I wasn’t able to pick him up or even hold him comfortably. The whole experience forced me to slow down and make some changes.
1. Take it slow
Moms are busy. We are always rushing around, doing two things at once all while holding a baby. My joke is “Anything you can do, I can do while holding a baby.” But suddenly I couldn’t. I had to slow down and do one thing at a time. While completely against my nature, it did have me savoring my time with my baby more.
I was no longer scrolling instagram or eating lunch while nursing. With only one functioning arm, all I could do was hold my baby and connect with him. If I needed to do household things, the few things I was able to do one-handed, I wasn’t also holding my baby or trying to entertain him. I was focusing on the task at hand.
2. Let things go
As moms, we are usually the primary parent and the keeper of the house. We do the dishes and laundry, the cooking and the cleaning all while raising the children. But dealing with an injury, it just is not possible to continue doing it all. I had to learn to triage the chores and do what was most important to keep the house functioning and let the other things go.
Maybe the floors didn’t get mopped every week anymore. Maybe the laundry sat in the drier a little longer. Perhaps we ate take-out more to avoid washing dishes. And that was ok. Life went on even when I needed to let some things fall to the side for the time being.
3. Learn your limits
Even if I don’t think I have limits, because I’m Super Mom doing it all, I actually do. Dealing with an injury was the time to learn and respect those limits. My body needed rest to heal. I was forced to take the time. Because I couldn’t hold my baby while doing other things, I took the time to just sit on the floor with him.
When I didn’t feel well enough to leave the house and attend all my usual social gatherings, I declined the invitations. Even when I did feel well enough to go but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it as much due to the limitation in place because of my arm, I let go of the obligation to attend. I learned that it is ok to change up my routine to suit my limits while dealing with this injury.
4. Lean on your partner
During this time of rest, recovery, and nursing an injury, I found that my husband now had to take a more primary role in the house. It was quite an adjustment not just for him but for me as well! I had to learn to trust him. I reminded myself that he has been a father just as long as I have been a mother, and he is more capable than I realized. I allowed him to take over the things I couldn’t do anymore.
He took a more active role in bedtime and all diaper changes. I also had to give him space to do things his own way. It was hard to give up control when I was accustomed to doing it all, but I needed to realize that our baby would be fine if he was wearing the wrong outfit or he didn’t get his nightly massage the same way. Babies are adaptable and we actually found that some of the changes made our routine more pleasant now that Dad was more involved!
5. Ask for (and learn to accept) help
Asking for help is so hard and humbling and many moms are not sure how. It seems to come with shame or guilt. After my injury, I got the chance to hone my skills of unashamedly asking for help. Every Saturday my in-laws come over to help with bedtime while my husband is not home. I could also call on other family, my best friend, or even my neighbors if I needed to. Whoever is part of my community is now on my call list when I find myself needing more help.
When asking for help, I’ve learned to be specific with what I need. If I need food brought over, an extra hand in the house, or someone to watch your older kids, that is what I ask for. Many around us want to help but don’t want to over step. Just like we feel awkward asking, others feel weird offering.
Along with asking, I had to learn to accept help when offered. It’s so easy to say that we are fine or that we don’t need anything. But when someone offers to help, no matter how vague the offer is, most of the time the offer is genuine. People want to help if we can direct them to how.
While any injury is sure to throw a kink into the current routine, it does not have to completely destroy it. Remembering these few things and leaning into your support system will make recovery more peaceful.
Happy healing, mama!