I Forgot to Put My Oxygen Mask on First.

There has been a lot going on around here lately. Between the everyday routine of raising three children, blogs and baby showers, wrapping up the end of a college semester, and a million other things too long to mention, the last two months have been filled with very very very late nights and long days. I am sure you can all relate.

Yesterday it all came to a head. Literally. I barely got out of bed to get the kids off to school. My headache was so bad I couldn't see, think, walk. Every step brought excruciating pain and dizziness. I have only had a migraine twice in my life and this far exceeded anything I had ever experienced. For those of you that deal with these types of headaches regularly, I have deep respect.

I knew I had brought the pain on myself. I had not been getting any sleep. A few hours a night for too long had caught up to me. I fought through the morning, then the afternoon, it was all a blur. My eyes were closed for most of it. When my husband came home around 3, he could see things were bad. He had to literally carry me upstairs, cover me up and demand that I did not get up until he told me I could. I didn't fight him.

Really once my head hit the pillow I had no choice.

The afternoon turned into night and then into morning as my body tried to recover. I woke up this morning with a touch of the pain, but the sleep had taken care of most of it.
I opened my eyes and laid in bed assessing the last 24 hours. I knew I couldn't let this happen again. I felt guilty because I had not been able to take care of my family the day before. Then it hit me, a conversation I had with my dad when we had our first child, eight years ago.

My parents were in town for a few weeks after our son was born. They could tell I was feeling overwhelmed by my new responsibilities. Not to mention the post part-um hormones had me completely sideways. As my dad and I sat on the porch talking, he asked me if I remembered the instructions they give you about oxygen masks when you fly on a plane.

"Yes, if the cabin pressure drops, oxygen masks will fall from the ceiling." I said.

" Do you remember the part about traveling with children?" He asked.

"Um, sort of. Something about your mask and then their mask?"

"That's right," he said. "They instruct you to put your mask on and then put the mask on the child." "Why do you think they tell you that?"

"Well, if the parent doesn't take care of the themselves so they can breath then how can they help the child." I said.

"Heather," he said, "it is the same way with being a mother. Remember to take care of yourself so that you can best take care of your family."

I laid there this morning recalling that conversation with it's fatherly advice and I realized that I had not put my oxygen mask on in a long time.

As mother's and women we have a natural instinct to take care of everyone else's needs. It is in us to nurture and in doing so we push aside what we need so that we can care for those we love. Our responsibilities are so great, when we don't feel like there is time to get everything done (which is everyday for me), the first thing we cut out is what we need.

I recommitted today to put my oxygen mask on first. I can't have another one of those headaches.
Thanks dad for the advice.

Any of you ever feel this way?
Anyone want to recommit with me?

Family Volley


  1. ugh, migraines are awful!
    good moral of the story, i like that.

  2. Oh my. I am crying. This is what I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  3. Heather,
    I can so relate to this. As a busy mom of 3, with 2 jobs, I go, go, go. One thing I've neglected completely over the past 5 years is my health. So, today, I got up at 5:25 and went to the gym and had one of the hardest workouts I've had in a long time....because it has been a long time! I committed to joining them weekly for a work-out along with making doable changes to take care of me so I can be there for them for a long, long time! Thanks for your posts...I'm a new reader in the past month and I really enjoy it!

  4. Thank you! I too needed to read this today as I feel myself starting the proverbial suffocation. One thing I struggle with is asking my husband for help. I forget that he doesn't see things that I see and I need to use my voice and ask for help. Thanks for the reminder! Hope you're feeling top notch again soon!!!

  5. Very good post. Haven't thought about that before. I too tend to forget to ask my husband for help. I'm more inclined now that I'm big prego, but once that goes away I forget and feel guilty. But it's totally ok to ask because...well, he's the parent too! I am going to try commit to doing more for myself and asking more of others. Thanks so much! Just what I needed to hear!

  6. Awesome post. It really is so important to take care of the wives/mothers in our families (ourselves!) for the benefit of those we love. BTW- best migraine cure ever= Mtn. Dew+ 1/2 a Unisom + rest. Works for me every time.

  7. Amen! Your experience is totally what I went through about a month ago...migraine and everything. With running a business from my home and taking care of 4 kids and all of their extra curricular activities. Survival mode is what we retreat to. I agree we do need to remember the great advice your dad gave to put our oxygen mask on first. It can be hard when we have so much going on. I think its something we need to assess daily..what is good...better...and best! And learn to say NO!

  8. I think this is something all moms do from time to time. The oxygen mask is a perfect analogy for it. If I forget to take care of my needs, I end up having an emotional breakdown. I can usually tell when I've gone too long without my mask.

  9. Thank you Heather. I too needed to hear this. Unfortunately I have been mentally/emotionally supporting a husband who's mother is quickly dying of brain cancer and two little girls who don't want their Grammy to die. I cry alone. I hurt alone - because I need to be there for them... but half the time I bury my feelings and emotions to be stronger for them. I will try to recommit with you. But this is such a hard time.
    Thank you!!!! (


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