I knew, even as I said I’d do it, that I was going to pay dearly.
My sister had said she didn’t want a baby shower this time around, and inside, I breathed a sigh of relief. Summer is busy for me this year. I’m jam-packed with writing and shooting my first cookbook, and finishing off my Women’s Health Coaching Course before the fall. I’d scheduled out the entire summer with everything I had to do, and I was at maximum capacity. Especially for someone living with endometriosis.
But then my sister’s husband texted and asked me about the baby shower. So I followed up with my sister, and it turned out she did want a shower after all. In the beginning it seemed like a small affair, but it quickly escalated into a 20-person party.
I hadn’t put aside the time, so I found myself finishing shooting and working on my course at 9 p.m., then hunting for gluten-free caterers and planning baby shower games. The only time I had to actually host the baby shower was the one day I’d given myself off to rest completely — the day I was due to get my period.
By the time the eve of the baby shower and my period came around, I was at my breaking point. I got to bed at 1 a.m. and was up at 5.30 a.m. I lugged food, cake stands, and a helium gas canister three hours across Kent, and began preparing the party. By the time the last guest was ready to leave, my pelvis had seized up and my energy had plummeted. I couldn’t even stand to pack the cake stands. As I pulled up a stool and finally pressed pause, the relief of it being over and the exhaustion of working myself beyond what was healthy cascaded over me and toppled out in ungraceful, unstoppable tears.
The next day was totally written off, and I found myself unable to leave my bed. I managed two half- days after that, though I know it would have been more effective to have done nothing at all.
Three weeks later and I still don’t feel back to the level I was before I began the frenzied weeks of baby shower-book-course-repeat. Usually I peak around ovulation, but my energy has remained the same most of the month — I feel like I’m stuck in my pre-menstrual phase. The mornings are hardest and I never really take off at any point of the day. I just pull myself through, willing myself to stay awake.
And I know exactly why I’m feeling this way. Besides the obvious doing too much, it’s also because I allowed my boundaries to be crossed. I had established what I could manage if I was disciplined with my time and self-care. It’s always a battle for me to balance my ambition and dreams with the needs of my body, and I could just about keep an equilibrium as it was.
But adding in the baby shower at the last minute? It took me from maximum capacity to entirely overwhelmed. What should have been a pleasant task, full of joy and happy anticipation, was stressful and cost me my health and my own priorities. It made me resentful, angry, and guilt-ridden for feeling that way.
And it wasn’t my sister’s fault. It was my responsibility to speak up and say what I could and couldn’t do. Part of the issue was I couldn’t see a solution that was comfortable for me to communicate to them — I felt like I had to say yes. I felt like I had to take it all on as the sister, and I felt like it had to be perfect.
But sometimes, looking after ourselves means stating our boundaries, what we can and can’t do, and what we’re willing and not willing to do. It doesn’t mean having to say no to hosting a baby shower, but maybe it’s about setting expectations, asking for help, and being honest about where you might struggle.
Boundaries sound harsh, but not setting boundaries often leads to resentment, anger, poor health, and conflict because your own needs go neglected. If you can’t achieve anything in the way you want for yourself or others, instead of enjoying the process, you will it to be over.
Establish what it is you need to feel well with endometriosis and fulfill your own goals and desires, while still happily supporting family and friends. We are no good to ourselves or others when we’re burned out, so do what you need to do to keep that flame alive.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.
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