Parenting and Other Health Hazards

A couple of years ago, about three months after giving birth to my third child, we were on vacation with my side of the family. We were on a beautiful lake for the week and I accomplished what I surmised to be a great feat. I water skied. It wasn’t pretty, but I got up on skis while family members, including my husband, helped corral our three little ones in the boat.

After my short ride I remember climbing back into the boat (which is almost another feat in itself) with legs that felt like jello. I flopped down next to my cousin, who was not yet married at the time and had no children. After I’d caught my breath I told him that I was tired, but glad I was able to ski just three months after having my third baby. My cousin thought about that for a minute and then he asked me a question. “How long does it take to recover from having a baby?”,  he said.

While my mouth was answering rather matter-of-factly, as I explained that you don’t go back to your doctor for your post-postpartum check-up for at least 6 weeks, my brain was saying, “Wait! Is this a trick question?!” Because really the answer to when you recover from having a baby is, um…. NEVER!

And when it comes down to it, once you’ve successfully added an infant to your life that’s not the beginning of your recovery…that’s just the beginning of the health hazards.  And to further that thought, once your children get bigger, so do the health hazards! I was reminded of this fact just this week when my poor husband got whacked in the head by our two-year-old who was wielding a plastic mermaid. And though being hit in the head with a mermaid may sound somewhat light and comical, judging by my husband’s reaction, it’s not as funny as it sounds.

Oh, there are many health hazards to having children.

Let’s see… there’s the lower back pain that comes from lugging an awkward infant car seat all over town. There’s the kink you get in your neck from half-turning around while driving to feel around on the floor behind you for the dropped must-have toy. Have you heard of “Tennis Elbow?” Well, how about “Diaper Bag Shoulder?” There’s the neck and back pain associated with children who hang on your arms while you’re standing and talking with other grown-ups (or trying to!) And that pain only worsens when the children pick up their feet and hang with all their body weight while holding on to two of your fingers and then landing on your pinky toe when they finally crash to the ground.

I’m just getting started here! The health hazards continue. There’s the sleep deprivation… the eating of ABC food (yes, “already been chewed”… and spit out by a toddler)…the cleaning of dropped pacifiers by “rinsing” them in your own glass of ice water….the inhalation of sour air until you find the sippy cup full of curdled milk under your van’s back seat…the agonizing foot and ankle pain when you step on wooden train wheels or Barbie hair brushes….the fingernails that get bent backwards while trying to unfold the stroller. What woman can forget the sharp pain associated with a baby pulling on their dangling earring. And men…well they get treated like human jungle gyms without the benefit of a recess monitor to keep things civilized.

Then there’s the hazard we parents face of extreme weather conditions as we bundle everyone from head to toe and go out forgetting our own coat. Our own personal hygiene suffers in general. Who has the time?!

And speaking of hygiene, I’m afraid one day I may accidentally poison myself by putting deodorant on my lips and lipstick on my underarms because I’m so distracted in the bathroom. I’m almost never in there alone!

And what about the health hazards of having to jump off the diving board at the local neighborhood pool in front of a dozen other Moms and Dads because your son is begging you… oh wait, that was a hazard to my pride… but anyway.

There are many health hazards to parenting. But let me tell you which ones are the most serious. There are some hazards from which you’ll never recover.

One, you’re a goner when you experience the bursting feeling in your heart the first time you watch your child make a good decision without you having to prompt them. Your poor heart will flutter as you watch your child’s eyes sparkle as they see one of their dreams come true. Your eyes will water and nose will tingle as you realize your child doesn’t need (or want) to hold your hand anymore when walking into school. Your head will spin with worry as you hear news that your child is sick or hurting. You’ll melt and become weak at the knees when your little toddler sweetly says big words like “Hippopotamus.” Your bones will ache with love as you stare at your child sleeping peacefully. Your breath will catch in your throat as warm, chubby little cheeks burrow up against your neck. And frankly, you’ll never be the same.

Yes, parenting is definitely a hazard to your health. It’s not for the feeble. And if you survive the infant stage then hold on, and maybe buy a helmet, because it’s only going to get worse!

Yes, it’s true, you’ll never fully recover once you’ve had a baby. And if you’re like me, you’ll never want to!

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