I am so relieved right now. Something I have been dreading since March 2012 happened today and I was able to keep it together.
At the grocery store tonight after work I ran into a woman who worked at the birth center when I had my son. She was not at my son’s birth. In fact, I didn’t meet her until his first check up on his second full day of life. I remembered her because she was wearing her son, just a few months older than my son, when I met her.
My midwife called her into the room where I was having my exam — the same room in which I delivered my son because there was no way I was going up those stairs. I couldn’t lay flat and she opted for me to sit on the edge of the bed. She explained once the woman entered the room that pelvic pain was relatively common with pregnancy and birth, pointed to the woman and said she’d had it, too.
Then, the woman wearing her baby said: Actually, the pain I felt was immediately gone once I delivered. She was cheerful. She was healthy. She was smiling, likely unaware why she was even being asked the question. I was in debilitating pain. I was broken. I was holding back tears, fear and so much anger. I could not even carry my baby. My 7 lbs 4.6 oz baby was impossible to hold while standing, much less wear on my chest as I work.
I saw the woman at one other check-up — my last visit there at six weeks post-partum. It was the day I turned 31. We chatted about our children. She asked how I felt. I explained I still hurt all the time, had run out of my prescription meds four weeks ago and had had to return to work six days before. I remember telling her something along the lines of “My life is a mess.” Her advice was to explain it all to the midwife when she came in.
She was not the midwife at my birth, but I had gotten to know her during my pregnancy and I was hopeful that maybe fresh perspective on my situation would be a good thing. My conversation with her brought no answers, only the reminder that if our situation had been typical my husband and I could officially start having sex. When I laughed in shock at the suggestion and explained — again — why that would be completely impossible she said: “There are other ways to enjoy each other.”
I will never forget that as long as I live. I’m telling her I can’t walk with a normal stride, although I had stopped using the walker the week before, much less have sex with my husband and she’s telling me something straight out of high school health class. I remember thinking “I’m not a 16 year old virgin who needs to learn how to say no. I’m a woman who can’t for the life of me get my legs where they would need to be in order to make love to my husband and you don’t seem to get that.”
Why couldn’t they hear me?
She said a few other things that I don’t remember because my mind was racing so fast. And the last thing she said was that she would see me in three years for my next routine pap-smear or when I was expecting again if it happened before. She was smiling, as though if she smiled enough it would make everything magically better.
For all the months since that day I have dreaded bumping into someone from the center. I sent a letter at Christmas 2012, explaining the surgery and imploring them to suggest x-rays for anyone else in a similar situation. I never heard a word.
When I saw the nurse today, she smiled and nodded at me. That was all. I knew she recognized me and it took me no time at all to place her. Later, my husband, son and I ran into her husband and three children in the community room of the store. Her son, just a few months older than mine, was telling his big sister about the “baby” and I told my son that he’d actually met the boy before, when he was just two days old. I told her husband that my son was born at the center and he made smalltalk about how they were always running into her patients but never anyone from his workplace.
If I was going to run into someone from the center, I’m glad it was her. Anyone else and a mere head nod would have been really upsetting. But I didn’t really know her at all and she was in no position to have responded to my letter or my concerns about my own health. I wondered if she remembered me, if she knew about everything we’d been through.
Aside from desperately peppering my husband with questions about what he remembered about the woman as soon as we were out of ear shot (nothing. He recognized her but didn’t know why until I said something), I kept it together pretty well. Only sitting down to write this did the wave of emotion really hit me. My memories of that time are so strange. In each of them I’m watching the scene as though it were a movie, shot from above, as though I’m floating above myself looking down. I remember things vividly, but not from my own natural prospective.
It was bound to happen some day. I’m just glad it was today and not yesterday when getting out of bed was only thanks to Biofreeze because of the weather. That would have been much harder.