Shock and owie – getting used to my body again

I had a great day with my son today.

My husband was working a basketball game and was gone from about 11 a.m. until after 6 p.m. so the Little Guy and I had lots of fun. I laid on the floor with him and we read three books that he had pulled off of his shelf.

We played with his new favorite toy, a “puppy” wearing overalls that has a voice, and teaches “ABCs”, up and down, clapping, dancing, etc. I pushed the button over and over as I sat on the floor with my legs much wider than shoulder width and he laughed, grinned and nearly clapped a few times. While he was napping I unpacked and put away two boxes worth of books. That meant lifting the boxes, sorting and carrying the books where they needed to be and arranging them on the shelf. In addition to the walking, hauling laundry to the couch and folding it and carrying the Little Guy up the stairs I was feeling really well. I would even say I was feeling strong.

Then, when he woke up and I was changing his diaper I must have slipped or just misjudged where I was because I ended up pressing my pubis against the ledge of his dresser/changing table in a sort of bump/fall. OUCH! OMG! OUCH!

It was a not so subtle reminder that even though I am physically so much better than I was just four months ago, my body is not back to 100 percent.

At many times during this journey I have felt betrayed, even abandoned by my body. I was lucky enough to really enjoy being pregnant. I was one of those women that you really couldn’t tell was pregnant from behind. My belly was a basketball and the time I was obviously pregnant, from October 2011 to January 2012, arguably was the most fashionable period of my life. The trendy maternity fashions that I snagged from the consignment shop, my mother-in-law snatched up at a department store know for amazing clearance sales and my husband spoiled me with from one of the maternity specialty shops helped me present on the outside how amazing I felt, plus my hair was amazing and my nails never pealed or broke. I felt good about the way I looked. I felt healthy. And thanks to twice weekly Zumba until the first week of December, I felt strong. I stopped because I was starting to have intense pain at my right SI joint. I was told it was round ligament pain and that I should be sure to get enough rest. (In hindsight, it more likely was a sign of pelvic instability and I should have gotten help to strengthen those muscles.)

Then, when I separated my pelvis during the natural birth of our son, everything changed. In addition to the feelings of my body not really being mine because of breastfeeding (for me, that feeling was temporary and I came to really relish that time with my son), I couldn’t stand walk or shift in my seat without pain. My sleeping position changed. It was a struggle to get in and out of our house because climbing stairs was so difficult. And worst of all, I couldn’t care for my son by myself.

I was sore. I was scared, tired and sick of counting on other people for just about everything. I blamed my body in order to not blame my son.

Internalizing my frustration that way meant that I didn’t snap at my husband or other supporters until I was really sore. It got to the point my husband would say “take a medicine” in an extremely calm voice rather than engage my sniping.

Post surgery, things changed a little because I physically felt so much better, but I wasn’t allowed to use my body. During this phase I hit an all-time fashion low. And that was fine with me. I had enough to think about without that. Until a coworker gave me a hand mirror I couldn’t even see my face or hair before I left the house. I would wait until I got to work to brush my teeth during the week because I could use the sink myself. And I had very little clothes that fit me. Things fit differently when you sit all the time, and I was seven months and absolutely no exercise post-partum. Another co-worker gave me some things she had planned to take to Goodwill and it really helped to ensure I didn’t actually wear the same five shirts every workweek.

Now that I’m out of the wheelchair and in physical therapy I’m getting reacquainted with the body I remember. I lost A LOT of muscle tone in my legs and bottom but I’m starting to see signs of the body that danced fancy shawl at powwows and occasionally even won competitions from age 10 to about 28 (and hopefully someday again), that ran a half-marathon in support of my best friend who was diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia just before (or just after, we’re not quite sure) I got pregnant and climbed to the top of the 7,242 foot “Harney Peak” in the Black Hills when I was 14 weeks pregnant.

My “bump” today reminded me that I’m not there yet. But I will get there.

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