The Big Lesson My Little Baby Taught Me About My Migraine

That migrained-out day, I remember the color of the sheets.

Lying in bed, the only body part I could move without pain were my eyelids. But every time I opened them, the burnt orange color of our bedsheets punched me in the eyeballs. We had these sheets because I’d sent my husband out to find a pair of back-ups. He’d chosen these. He’s no longer allowed to buy sheets.

Rising migraine pain

I decided it best to keep my eyes shut against these scary Halloween sheets that screamed “Boo!” Despite the brightness of my bedsheets, my head pain started in the middle of the night. I’d tried my tricks o’ the trade to stop my migraine, but it was here to stay. My negative self-talk rose with my pain because I wouldn’t be the fully present mom that my infant son deserved.

I felt guilty canceling plans

Over the years, I knew how to cancel plans with friends. It had become a normal part of my migraine pattern. Some reacted with empathy, some with frustration, and some with disappointment. My own guilt at canceling, coupled with my friends' reactions, created a complicated mix of feelings within me.

I was frustrated with my guilt

I found myself reflecting the same emotions my friends’ experienced. I became annoyed with myself for not being able to control my migraine disease and disappointed in myself when I changed plans. Occasionally, I showed myself some empathy, but mostly my guilt took that kindness from me and I viewed my head pain harshly.

I had mom guilt

When I became a mom, canceling on a day of motherhood was significantly worse. I desperately wanted to be there for my son. Some migraine days I had no choice but to put on my "mom jeans" and make a day of momming happen, but during the times when I had back-up, I’d try to make it through feeding time or storytime only to take a break saying “Goodnight Moon” so I could run to the bathroom and vomit. I wasn’t a good mom on migraine days — that’s what I told myself. And today’s negative inner-monologue was no different.

My husband stepped in when I couldn't

The good news was that my husband was home and able to take the best of care of our little guy. So while covered in guilt, disappointment, frustration, and pumpkin-colored sheets he came into the bedroom carrying our 6-month-old and that’s when the strangest thing happened. My son smiled at me.

My son saw me, not migraine

At first, I was perplexed by my baby’s response. It held no frustration. I actively looked for the disappointment -there was none. He smiled bigger and reached his arms out for a hug. He didn’t see my migraine. He only saw me. It was the tiniest of moments, but his reaction helped me understand that even though my chronic illness may be apart of me, it wasn’t who I was.

I hugged my little guy and then cuddled up under the ugly orange sheets. My head hurt, but I felt relaxed knowing I was accepted, and it would be okay if I learned to accept myself too.

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