The Most Important Mama-Lesson I’ve Learned So Far.

I waited until my friend took GinGin and Roo out of the nurse’s room and I cried. I sobbed my little heart out on the nurse’s shoulder. It was too much. I’d managed to hold myself together in front of the girls. But once they were out of sight, and I knew they were safe, I couldn’t hold it in any longer.

My teeth were chattering, I was shivering cold, shaking uncontrollably and unable to stand up by myself. And I was trying to keep hold of my jumper and coat while two nurses were desperately trying to strip away some of my many, many layers of clothing. I was so cold. But I had a temperature of 105.4 degrees and the sweat was running off me like some sort of mini-waterfall.

There were voices in the background. I could hear them, but couldn’t focus on what they were saying over the noise coming from the oxygen mask that had been strapped to my face. A nurse, a doctor and two paramedics were throwing words like “sepsis” and “pneumonia” around. Surely they weren’t talking about me?

Embarrassingly I was wheeled out of the doctor’s surgery and into the back of an ambulance that had arrived in lightening speed. My car was left abandoned in the car park. The same car park I’d collapsed in less than an hour before.

That was the 8th of February this year. It was possibly the worst day of my life so far. I mean I might have had worse days, but I don’t dwell on the negatives and I have a terrible memory *laughs at myself!*

“That’s what we do. Right?”

I’d been ill for weeks. And so had Jon. GinGin and Roo weren’t great either. We’d all had a cold. Thankfully I was still on maternity leave so I didn’t have the added pressure – and guilt – of missing work. But I had an eight month old baby and a hyper five year old girl to look after. Oh, and Roo was teething!

So because Jon still had to go to work – and he was quite poorly himself – I just carried on as normal. That’s what we do. Right? Us mamas, we just carry on. Our little ones depend on us. (And so do our bigger ones!) So we stay awake all night to soothe our poorly babies. We rush around to make the mad-dash to school twice a day, trying to remember everything that should and shouldn’t be in the school bag, the book bag, the PE bag…

We just keep going. We have to. But about three weeks into feeling poorly I was struggling. A mummy-friend of mine had very kindly offered to take GinGin to and from school for a few days so I didn’t have to worry. But I do worry. It’s my job to look after her. It’s my job to see she gets to school on time. To give her just one more hug before she goes in. To blow her a kiss through the classroom window so “I can keep it in my pocket for later mummy.”

Don’t get me wrong – I was relieved – but it still made me feel bad. Plus GinGin was starting to look poorly. She was complaining of an ear ache. And Roo seemed to be developing an upset stomach (nice!) and so I called the doctor to get them an appointment. I rang the school to explain why GinGin would be late for school. And I drove the few miles to the GP’s surgery.

I was winning!

I parked the car. It took me three attempts to open the boot to get Roo’s pushchair. But eventually I managed that too. I was winning! But, when it came to getting Roo out of the car, I had no air in my lungs. Breathing in didn’t help. There was no air. I was stuck. I just managed to put Roo safely in her chair. And then I collapsed into the boot of my car.

It was so surreal. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk. Other people had started to notice something wasn’t right and were asking if I was okay. Stupidly I did the female thing where you pretend everything’s fine. Thankfully these people weren’t fooled. They got help.

Two nurses came out with a wheelchair to get me. They took charge of GinGin and Roo. They called the doctor to see to them – GinGin had an ear infection, and Roo was pooey because she was teething – they were fine! I’d got them to the doctor and they were going to be fine. Mission complete!

While all this was going on, I’d been transported to a bed in the nurse’s room. I was hooked up to an oxygen machine and the nurses were trying to take my vital readings. I told them I thought I had a cold, but I was fine. Of course I was fine. I had my babies to look after. I had to be fine.

I wasn’t fine.

The doctor laughed at me – I must have looked and sounded ridiculous *eyes roll.* He said, “you don’t have a cold; you’re much more poorly than that and you’re going to hospital.”

This was when the panic really started to kick in. They’ve rang an ambulance. I have to go to hospital. I can’t get hold of Jon. Who’s going to look after my babies? Who the actual heck is going to look after MY babies?

My mind raced through the people who I trusted and who wouldn’t mind too much if I bothered them with my mini-crisis. Thank goodness I know some awesome people! We managed to get the girls sorted. They’d both been so good. Kept busy by the brilliant staff at the doctor’s surgery. I smiled, blew kisses, told them I loved them both and waved goodbye as my friend took them home.

And then I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I cried. A lot. I don’t know if it was just relief that GinGin and Roo were going to be okay, or because I finally didn’t have to hide how poorly I was. I could admit that I was really very ill. I was struggling. A lot. Drinking fluids and taking paracetamol wasn’t the miracle cure I needed.

“I wasn’t dead and I didn’t have to pay for all my treatment.”

Later that evening – after isolation rooms, tubes, monitors, x-rays, masks, medicines, oxygen, medicines, more oxygen and a bag full of more medicines to take away – I was stable. I was looking better. My temperature had come down to somewhere near normal. My resting heart-rate wasn’t pushing 200 beats a minute anymore. I could very nearly stand up all by myself. I was allowed to go home!

Our national health service is amazing. I wasn’t dead and I didn’t have to pay for all my treatment. Imagine that!

If you’ve got this far – well done! – you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the “most important mama-lesson I’ve learned so far” bit. LOL.

Well, here it is.

The most important thing I’ve learned about being a new mummy again is that, actually, I do need to take care of myself. Back when Roo was born, I shared a hospital room with another new mummy. She was desperately ill. She did have sepsis. I said to her: “you need to make sure you look after yourself; after all you can’t fill a glass from an empty jug!”

You see I knew the fundamental principle of self-care. I knew that to be able to look after my girls I would first have to look after myself. It’s simple. Right? But real life sometimes gets in the way of well-meaning advice.

We all know that we need to care for ourselves. That we need rest. That we need to eat well. That we should get outside more. That we should drink plenty of water and take regular exercise. We know that we should slow down when we’re sick.

But knowing something, and doing something are totally different things. It’s nearly four months since I collapsed at the doctors. I had flu. Possible pneumonia. And then pleurisy.

Only now am I starting to feel my normal self again. Four months later. But my lungs still feel broken – like someone has gone at them with a cheese-grater – when I do too much. I mean I was no Mo Farah before, but I could push Roo’s pushchair up a hill without too much puffing and panting and stabbing pains in my chest.

So the lesson I’ve learned is to slow down. To take better care of myself. To listen to my body when it tells me I need to stop. To not feel guilty if I’ve not ticked all the things off my impossibly-long to-do list. To know that I can’t do everything by myself. And, more importantly, to know that I don’t need to do everything by myself.

So ladies – and fellas – take note of my embarrassing story. If you’re feeling under the weather, rest. If you don’t start to feel better after a few days, go see the doctor. Get better. Properly better. You’re no good to anyone if you’re collapsed in a heap in the boot of your car!

Mummies – it’s your turn! What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since having babies? Share it in the comments below, we can learn from each other 🙂


PS – the eating well and taking regular exercise stuff are still on my to-do list *tuts*

The Pramshed

The Mum Conundrum
Jennie (GinGin & Roo)
Jennie (GinGin & Roo)

Hi, I’m Jennie and I’m the blogger and content creator behind the award-winning blog GinGin & Roo, a UK parenting and lifestyle blog.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook


  1. November 12, 2018 / 9:14 pm

    I wasn’t sure where this was going but all’s well that ends well (I think!) What an eye-opener #itsok

    • November 14, 2018 / 1:29 pm

      Haha yes I think it ended well! I just hope others can learn not to be so self-sacrificing – it’s really not healthy 🙂

  2. November 11, 2018 / 12:58 pm

    This is not an embarrassing story. It’s a story of bravery, and selflessness. Maybe you just took that all a little too far, but I’m very glad it worked out okay in the end and you got the help you need, and that you passed out at the Dr’s surgery, and not in some grocery store car park! Thanks for linking up to #itsok linky. Please come back next week.

    • November 11, 2018 / 3:26 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I used to joke that it was a good job the girls were poorly, otherwise I’d have collapsed at GinGin’s school. Couldn’t have happened at a more perfect place really!
      Looking forward to next week’s #itsoklinky xx

  3. Kate 🍷 (@TheMumConundrum)
    November 8, 2018 / 7:09 pm

    Oh my good lord what a story! You poor thing! I am spectaularly crap at telling the difference between just being massively overtired and getting ill – the penny only usually drops if I throw up or develop a high temperature! We really should pay a bit more attention to our own wellbeing sometimes shouldn’t we?! Thanks for adding this to the #ItsOK linky. It’s a really well written piece xx

    • November 9, 2018 / 12:45 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Kate. We are so good at looking after everyone else, I don’t quite know why we are so spectacularly crap at taking care of ourselves? Ho-hum, maybe one day we’ll learn xx

  4. unmindfulmama
    November 7, 2018 / 12:26 pm

    Oh wow – what an incredible story. And so glad you’re now on the road to recovery. It is such an important message. I don’t know why it takes us mamas to be on death’s door to realise we need to take care of ourselves. I had a similar experience when I contracted viral meningitis a couple of years’ ago. It took me many months to get over it, but I just kept trying to push on and carry on being the same mum I was before, to my 18month old. But every time I tried to just ‘get on with it’ my symptoms would come back with vengeance. #itsok to take some self care mamas!

    • November 8, 2018 / 9:43 am

      Oh my gosh that sounds horrific! I don’t know why we are so self-sacrificing either. Our bodies give us all the clues we need to take time to slow down, but, “mum knows best!” I’m glad to hear you are feeling better now xx

  5. November 7, 2018 / 12:01 pm

    This sounds awful! I’m so glad you’re on the road to recover. It’s so important to remember to look after yourself, but it’s also sometimes near impossible too (I had crunchy nut cornflakes for tea last night!). But this is a good lesson to remember. Thanks for linking up #ItsOK

    • November 8, 2018 / 9:53 am

      It was pretty horrific. I didn’t realise how poorly I was until I physically collapsed. Of course I was lucky to have fabulous people round me to help when I needed it most. I wonder how other mothers who don’t have a support network cope?
      I’ve had the flu jab this time – don’t want to risk it again!
      I hope you had something slightly more nutritious for dinner last night 😊 xx

  6. May 27, 2018 / 9:26 pm

    This is such an important lesson to learn but it’s so easy to forget it as parenthood is such a full on business! I’m so glad to hear you recovered. It must have been so scary for you! Thanks for sharing your story with #fortheloveofBLOG

    • May 28, 2018 / 8:49 am

      Thank you Vicky 😊
      It was so scary, especially not being able to get hold of Jon and not knowing what was going to happen to the girls.
      And it was heartbreaking seeing them go!
      But all’s well that ends well!! I just hope that other mamas can learn from my story xx

  7. Kernowkaty
    May 27, 2018 / 1:16 pm

    I never realised just how poorly you were.
    So glad you are better and back at the school gates. Love our morning chats
    We all need to learn that we need to take care of ourselves as well as others xx

    • May 27, 2018 / 8:55 pm

      Oh it was pretty bad my lovely 😷
      I’m glad too: I love our morning chats!! It’s so easy to forget about taking care of yourself though isn’t it. We make sure everyone else is fed, watered, safe, well, happy etc. It’s just what mamas do xx

  8. May 25, 2018 / 11:33 am

    Just glad all turned out fine. Yip it is so important that we need to take care of ourselves first before you can take care of others. Once when my kids were still very small my blood sugar levels dropped as I was so busy sorting the kids out that I forgot to eat. It was almost lunch time, I didn’t have anything for breakfast as I was so busy multitasking. I fainted – luckily my mother-in-law was there and called my husband to come home #fortheloveofblog

    • May 25, 2018 / 6:47 pm

      Thanks for your well wishes and kind words 😊😊
      Oh no! That must have been so scary. Lucky your mother-in-law was there. It could have been disastrous 💗

  9. Carla kincaid
    May 23, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    This made me cry and loved reading it it was a very scary time
    You were so strong for weeks but as mums this is what we do care for our babies

    • May 23, 2018 / 6:11 pm

      It was scary. I can’t thank you enough for coming to get GinGin and Roo 😘😘😘
      And you’re right, it’s just what we do but we need to take better care of ourselves 😊💗

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