The Scottish Pronunciation of "Vitamins"

The Scottish pronunciation of "vitamins" is insane. Or at least it sounds that way to my American ears. My whole life, I've said and heard "vitamins" pronounced as vie-ta-mins. It never occurred to me that it could be pronounced any other way, until two weeks ago during a call with the lovely Scottish woman who handles my company's UK public relations when she admonished me to take vi-ti-mins. First sound "vit" as in "nit" or "bit" or "sit." Second sound much more like a short "i" than an "a."  Vi-ti-mins. Say it. It sounds crazy.

When I first heard it, at first I thought she was referring to a specific product, one that must only be available across the pond. I was about to tell her that I'd never heard of such a thing when the light bulb finally went on and I realized that she was talking about vitamins. As in Centrum or whatever.

Why, you ask, was my UK public relations team admonishing me to take vitamins? For the very same reason that this blog has been silent for a few weeks. I have been down and out with the worst cold I can ever remember having.

It started on Sunday, December 21, approximately 48 hours after Avery came down with her first cold. This didn't come as a major surprise. I'd been holding, nursing, and cuddling my sick baby. She'd been sneezing and dripping snot all over me. There was about a zero percent chance I was not getting sick. But it's a cold, right? So I got up on Monday and dragged myself to work. Likewise on Tuesday. On Wednesday, my entire family arrived in town for Christmas, and I spent the next few days willing myself to keep going, believing that the fog was going to lift any moment and I was going to feel better.

But it didn't. And I didn't.

Instead, the cold begat another, nastier cold.

Which turned into a sinus infection.

Which caused a massive sinus headache (fun fact: if you let a sinus infection get bad enough, it can cause severe tooth and jaw pain).

And a cough, which persisted day and night. Through a guerilla marketing campaign. And a company sales kickoff event. And seven days of antibiotics that made me nauseous and killed my appetite.

In fact, the cough persisted for so long, that I finally cracked a rib.

That was when I finally cracked as well.

As it turns out, other people were relieved to hear this. Apparently, my poor boss was getting nasty letters from colleagues who were under the impression that he was insisting that I come to work.

After two days of pretty much not moving, followed by three days of limited moving, I could take two steps without a coughing fit. I could lie down and sleep at night. I remembered what I felt like to feel better.

So at this point you, like everyone who witnessed this madness, is probably wondering why the fuck it took a cracked rib for me to throw in the towel. I'm not really sure I have a clear answer to this, but here's the best I can do.

Coming back from maternity leave is not easy. No matter how progressive your workplace, no matter how socially enlightened your bosses are, if you are a working woman with a child, it's hard not to get the distinct impression that people suspect (or just outright assume), that your priorities are elsewhere. And they aren't entirely wrong. Having a child does give you a whole new set of priorities and responsibilities. But that doesn't mean you can't also make work a priority. It's interesting that for men there is a presumption that they can both have a child and make work a priority, but for women, it's something to prove. And getting so sick after having been back less than three months... I felt I had something to prove.

I needed to prove that I could go to work and leave a sick baby with grandma or the nanny. I needed to prove that I could stick it out, even when the going got tough. It needed to prove that work was a priority.

This mentality extended beyond work. I needed to prove that I was the kind of mother who could tough out any illness to be there for her baby. I could work and come home and cook dinner and have quality time with my daughter and be a good wife / daughter / sister / friend. Even with a 101 degree fever.

And somewhere along the way, through all that sticking it out, I became convinced that if I could just push through one more day, the next day would be better. I would wake up, and the fog would part, and I would be better.

But as it turns out, things don't work that way. I was forgetting one of the most important things I heard while I was pregnant: don't forget to still prioritize yourself once the baby arrives. I remember hearing that and thinking, gosh that makes perfect sense. It's practically in the social contract that pregnant women are cared for and accommodated. They are, after all, carrying a life. But as soon as that baby comes, people (including the mother herself) somehow lose sight of the fact that the best thing for the baby is to have a happy, healthy mother.

So to my delightful UK public relations manager, yes, I will keep taking my vi-ti-mins. And I will take time to sleep. I will do better at asking for help, and saying "no," and realizing that I don't have to be a superhuman.

I just have to be a human.

Who occasionally gets sick.

Just hopefully not for that long. Ever. Again.


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