Wisdom, courage, sacrifice, and determination are the lessons of our history. Southerners know and understand our past as a people, which is why we are all connected, no matter our status in life. We recognize kinship as the golden threads that are woven through our past: the struggles, the pain, and the power of overcoming. - Deborah Ford - Author of Girls Raised in the South
My story of Pelvic Girldle Pain and the art of living during my third pregnancy.
I am a Girl raised in the south (GRIT), mama of 2 children and one on the way, an artist, hedgehog breeder, and wife to a southern gentleman.
I have been so lucky (living under Christ's Kindness) to have low risk pregnancies. I am 5ft 9in, base weight of 125 and am crazy when it comes to eating healthy. I've been told by doctors and my husband that I'm the epitome of health. Maybe from eating good collard greens and refraining from indulging in too many key lime pies. Though I do love them!
I have been blessed in my pregnancies to get limited nausea and have only have a few vomiting episodes. I get the normal fatigue during the first trimester and then a few weeks into the second trimester I am able to do a few fun nesting projects. Almost as if I'm a bit manic. However the fun that everyone speaks of during the second trimester doesn't last long.
You see I get a different symptom. It's called Pelvic Girdle Pain. With my first pregnancy it was not so bad. I remember trying to pull on my boots mid winter and felt something pop in the process. My left inner thigh has never been the same! But I was super fun flexible and enjoyed doing exercises to prepare for our first baby girl.
Third trimester I lost a lot of sleep due to restless leg syndrome and excruciating leg cramps that would wake me up in the middle of the night screaming. I found out it was due to a calcium deficiency. My emotions are always all across the board - God help the people who have to live with me through that.
It wasn't until after the birth that I started having bigger issues. I had been a runner before I got pregnant and had completed a half marathon among some other 5 ks. 6 miles was my normal distance. I had a dream of running the Chicago marathon after the baby was born.
Instead we moved to South Florida. I and my husband started trying to run together but I found it really difficult as my hips would pop out of place.
After talking to my sister who is a physical therapist, I started seeking help from a local PT to restrengthen my core and help me manage the pelvic and back pain I was constantly feeling. I found a sports medicine place that took my insurance and they were "ok" - it took me about a year to start feeling "myself" again both physically and emotionally. Something most mamas aren't told after their first baby! You carried a baby for 9 months and it's going to take you at least that long to bounce back. Possibly longer if you're breast feeding longer than a year as I do.
Right around my 27th birthday I found out we were pregnant with our second. Again pretty normal pregnancy. However during our summer trip about half way through the pregnancy I found it very painful to walk the dog as her slightest movement displaced my back and pelvis.
Slowly I lost mobility due to pain and inability to move my legs. and I was barely able to keep up with my 1.5 year old as she started walking at 9 months and never stopped running after that!
This time I got in addition to leg cramps and restless leg I got nerve pain and tingling when I slept. I knew then to start taking more calcium and magnesium to help with the first two symptoms. But I didn't have much lead on what to do for everything else. By the time my second girl was born I was a complete mess from lack of sleep and constant pain. There is always some relief that comes post baby. And the joy of having a sweet Baby Girl is like none other. She was 10lbs 7 oz and I delivered her naturally with help from my husband and midwife.
Well everything always checks out well at the 8 week postpartum appointment. However with both I had pain during intercourse afterwards. This time I felt I had a partially prolapsed cervix. I began doing Yoga to start strengthening my core... and quickly found out my abs had forgotten how to work. I finally found a women's health physical therapist who started helping me use bio feed back to retrain my core muscles and strengthen my pelvic floor. Surprisingly after having such a large baby I did not have a very wide diastasis recti (separation of the abdominals) and it was fixable through therapy. Some women get it so severely they need surgery.
After going to the physical therapist for several months I started feeling better. I also found a chiropractor who specializes in pre and post natal patients. My friend had told me about her after discussing my daughter's severe reflux. I started taking all 3 of us. Within weeks my pelvis stopped rotating as much and my SI joints began to remember where they belonged.
2 years exactly after I had my Baby Fox I got pregnant with our third. Though the pregnancy was completely a surprise, this time I felt prepared for the physical changes. Once the second trimester hit I tried to get as much done with the heightened energy as possible as I knew what was coming. I probably had 2-3 good weeks before the back pain started. I started going back to PT as soon as I could. I'm in my third trimester now and I wake up every day in pain and go to bed in even more pain. Many nights I can't sleep due to the nerve and Pelvic floor pain. I try to put my best foot forward but as my husband and kids know staying positive while being in pain isn't my strong point. Especially with crazy pregnancy hormones to boot.
I am barely able to do complete dishes and laundry these days with out being exhausted. Grocery shopping takes me two days to recover from. Organization is slow. But hopefully easier roads are ahead.
This baby is almost here and I can't wait to hold him. My prayers are simple these days. Help me be patient. Help me complete this task. Provide me joy in the pain. I have been helped out a lot by some dear close friends and a relative here or there.
I don't really have a lot of good answers for others who struggle during pregnancy. I am less than graceful in my own walk most of the time however I have found a few things that help make the days a bit more sunny.
Starting the day by remembering that we are part of creating a new life and accepting that it takes sacrifice to do so was huge for me. Acceptance of that sacrifice and realizing that God gave up a lot more to give us life than I ever will have to. Giving up painting, cuddling hedgehogs, and fun nights out pale in comparison.
However, chocolate all over the house, including my bed stand is a must. So is a water. A kiss and a hug from my husband in the morning can do wonders. A little eye makeup to brighten my tired eyes can provide a slightly different perspective of my self though natural beauty should always be celebrated - even when you haven't slept in two days.
I really struggle with patience with my children when I am tired. Tonight I found all the dress ups all over the bedroom just after we spent 30 minutes cleaning up the bed room. Let's just say my patience ran thin. I try to make a game for myself of speaking to them in the calmest way possible. Just rephrasing my impatience can help difuse my anger. I haven't perfected this technique, and often reflect on my motherhood as being a failure. However if I have had one triumph of dealing with a tough moment with calmness it helps.
Another key for me is to focus on being thankful. For even the small things. I have been so lucky to be able to get pregnant so easily and to have such healthy babies.
We each have had a cross to bear in our lives and I feel that mine is not so bad - as many of my other sisters have had to bear much worse things.
And hey, at least I am not like Bella Swan with a vampire hybrid inside me breaking my ribs with every kick while sucking the life out of me! If only I looked as gorgeous as she did post birth.
I write not to ask for pity but more as a catharsis for myself...
And so often we as people think we are alone. But that isn't the case. Pregnancy is hard. And so are a lot of other parts of life. But if we share our burdens and also our blessings so many good things can come from it. There is an art to life that I am continually trying to pursue. If we as women could share in a community of grace, love and courage - I truly believe we could revive the "village life." Our children would be able to grow up in an environment of strength and beauty that seems only viable in fairy tails these days.
So I am encouraging my dear friends to not suffer alone or hold to the darkness. Step into the light. Let us bless each other this Sunday. Wether it be at a coffee shop with a friend or opening your home so that encouragement can take place. Let us live in the Acts Way this week.