I don’t think I realized how deeply injured I was until late in my pregnancy and then again late in the first of my child’s life.
The injuries and hidden trauma are for the most part my own fault. A history of active sports and not properly caring for myself – let’s be honest, in those days I was indestructible. Not to be mistaken with being unaware, I was fully conscious of the injuries. Two, in particular, would crop up now and again as severe pains that I had to attend to in some regard.
Both of these injuries involve my spine – one lower and the other upper. The lower back injury was sustained in a hockey collision (I was the goaltender against an amateur skater). The second was sustained in a car accident, I was in my early teens – severe whiplash.
Certainly, I was concerned about how my back would deal with these injuries throughout my pregnancy. It seemed perfectly natural to assume I would have severe pain as the extra weight of a growing baby pulled on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
However, this was not where I struggled. Not in the pregnancy anymore. Let me come back to this.
During, pregnancy the injuries that bothered me most, were ones I didn’t know I had sustained. Yes, like most pregnant women I had my issues with upper leg and hips, swollen ankles and wrists. The latter would become a very troubled area.
My wrists became so sore late in my pregnancy and early months of motherhood that I had to wear braces on both arms. Let me just say, wrist braces make cuddling your infant very difficult. Although I can now manage without the protection, I still feel the lingering pain when I carry my 1-year old for too long or carry a box too far.
Further to my wrists, nowhere in the readings did I see anything about the pain I would feel in my chest. It does make sense, as the baby grows and organs shift, things move up. In order to accommodate the mother’s organs, the ribcage has to expand. My ribcage was not so accommodating. It often hurt to breathe. I am an avid hiker and hiked right up to the day I delivered my child. I will say that within the later months of my pregnancy I took frequent breaks to catch my breath. Half hour hikes were now taking twice as long simply due to my slowed mobility and my need to breathe.
After delivery, in this first year, I have found that my body once again put the needs of my child first. It does not seem to matter whether my body is in pain or not. I will sacrifice my comfort and mobility for the development of the child. I contort my body in ways I’ve never been able to before. I sit on folded knees passed when they would normally fall asleep. I lean over straining my back just to giggle and play with my child.
Now, as the one year mark comes to pass, my body is waging war on the choices I have made. It is finally screaming ‘enough is enough’. My brain let the pain be ignored, but it will no longer allow me to forget my own injuries. My back has stiffened to the point it sometimes feels like the wrong move will cause it to break. My neck and shoulders cause incessant head pains. And my knees will no longer accommodate the trip to and from the floor without voices their complaint.
So, I am forced to acknowledge the need for self-care. We all need to remember to take care of our bodies throughout our child’s life. The other side of the coin if we don’t is we won’t be able to participate later. I for one will not accept that option.
This means I will ensure I use equipment to carry my child that fits and doesn’t strain. I will raise the changing table safely so we are both comfortable. I will get good cushions for the play area for comfort on the floor. I will ensure I’m getting the professional care I need to straighten and relieve my aching body.
If pregnancy and motherhood have made me aware of one thing, it is that if I don’t take care of myself now. I won’t be able to move later in life. Injuries I thought had gone away, obviously, linger. This was an advanced warning of the care I need to take for my own health.