A personal story of how Lycia’s mother became her primary caregiver during her own initiation into motherhood.
Six months after becoming a mother, my own mother visited me from Brazil in May 2019.
My husband and I were thrilled to have her helping hands so tirelessly available while we were still learning how to become parents. I finally managed to find an apartment for her in our neighborhood and her plan was to help me care for my son during the day while my husband was working full-time. She made sure I was well rested, physically active and well-nurtured so I could recover well from the inevitable sleep deprivation of early motherhood. She decided to stay near us in Victoria for 5 months and we encouraged her to enroll in some English classes, volunteer, perhaps join a gym and enjoy what the Victoria communities have to offer.
Two weeks after she arrived, I experienced a health crisis like none I had ever imagined.
Extreme muscle pain, tremendous weakness all over, and random skin rashes everywhere on my body. I could not walk or perform daily activities, but most of all I could not safely hold my son with the strong arms I used to have, which left me in a state of disempowered grief and silent shock.
I had to rely on my mother as my arms. She washed my hair. She patiently dressed me each day and even helped me eat and drink.
After the initial chaos of the emergency room, they kept me in the hospital for 4 days with no sign of a diagnosis. My determined and caring husband made sure to bring my son to me three times a day while my mother cared for me in the hospital even sleeping beside me on the couch. Finally, I was allowed to go home, but this continued on for three grueling and uncertain months. Eventually, they deciphered that I had a rare auto-immune disease known as Dermatomyositis. My mom and husband suddenly became my primary caregivers for 5 months with no guarantee that I would come out of this at all.
Mom slept on our couch for two weeks which meant joining in our early morning baby routine, which began each day at 4:45am. She carried him to me for regular breastfeeding, she fed him with tremendous skill and joyfully took him for stroller walks around the neighborhood.
As I lay in bed day after day we became afraid that I would become depressed because at this point the pain was chronic and relentless both physically and mentally. It felt unnatural to have all of my active engagement taken away so suddenly, since I had so enjoyed taking my son to the pool, hiking with him on the sling and joining weekly baby groups.
But amidst that hurricane of physical and emotional pain, there was my mom doing everything she could to alleviate my suffering. She was my constant companion who uplifted my energy with her own optimistic spirit and guided me back out into the external world toward my recovery.
My mom was my healer who mirrored back the courage that I could not seem to find within myself alone. She never accepted the traditional pharmaceutical treatment that doctors were prescribing to me, and encouraged me to start a specific holistic naturopathic protocol developed for people with specific autoimmune diseases.
Today, thanks to this naturopathic treatment I am back at work, actively caring for my son and have returned to all of my daily routines. Shortly after I recovered, mom returned to Brazil, and now we await her next visit.
I am grateful for the re-vitalizing impact of my mother’s caregiving on my health and wellness.
This personal journey has become a lens through which I now see, with much more clarity, the immense value of mothers who become caregivers for their adult children. This Mother’s Day, I would like to celebrate and acknowledge the incredible value of our mother caregivers!