Thanks to John Mayer, anytime I hear the word ‘Wonderland’ I will start to hear the tunes of this song.
My Mom Bod has been kicking my butt this last month.
Let’s rewind to September 2016- I was 6 months postpartum with Jacob and feeling good in life. Jacob was a champ, work was going well, everything was peachy. I decided I felt a burning desire to go jogging again. I started very slowly, walk and jog for 5 minutes, 1 mile at a time. It was hard to get started but after the first mile, it felt great. I had been doing this for about a week or so.
I bent over to get Jacob out of his high chair when I felt some excruciating pain in my lower back, in the middle of my spine. And I knew right then something was not right. Luckily my parents were with us so I handed Jacob to them as I hobbled over to lie down. I felt like someone took a hammer to the lower middle back of my spine and had beat it to a pulp.
I could barely move without feeling excruciating pain- if I coughed/sneezed/moved it felt like my spine was combusting within my body. After a few days of rest and ibuprofen, it got better. Then a week later, as I sneezed, I felt the pain again and I couldn’t move again. When Jeff tried to help me up from a chair or bed, my spine hurts like a mofo. It made no sense how I could have so much pain without having ANY need to use a muscle?!?
Things got better and then tweaked things again after a sneeze. I got better and then tweaked things again after twisting and trying to get out of the car. It was awful. Our nanny had to bring Jacob to bed so I could nurse him, then she would come and get him after he was done and did any/all lifting until Jeff got home. There were meds that could have helped my muscles relax but I didn’t want to have to pump and dump. I was determined to continue nursing for a year!
After a week of steroids, a single dose of Flexeril (back brace left my body with a very obvious scoliosis), later an MRI revealed a herniated L4-L5 disc. How in the world? Looking back, I have had similar episodes in the past but that’s a story for a different day.
My back never fully recovered. The spine pain was gone but all the muscles around it were tight and my flexibility went down the tubes. I got a lumbar epidural steroid injection which made me feel great! I was determined to get back in shape in case we got pregnant with Baby #2. My exercise training plan went very slowly and then a few months later, I got pregnant. The pregnancy contributed to some more back pain thanks to the weight gain, hormones, increasing lordosis. I went to physical therapy and things got better again but I knew the recovery was limited because of the relaxin hormones and weight distribution.
After Cameron was born, the pelvic pain and back pain improved but things were tight. Then, after a long drive home from Mammoth, I leaned over to put something on a shelf, sneezed, and then felt the same (but a little less in quantity) central, localized low back pain that had debilitated me in 2016. Uh oh. I cannot go through this again….
I told myself as I was lying there feeling sorry for myself that I MUST get my back better and will have to do what it takes to get back to being functional. I haven’t surfed, snowboarded, jogged, golfed- haven’t done anything active that I wanted to do out of fear of reherniation. I have 3 boys (1 for Jeff) with whom I want to enjoy sports and activities with. I would like to get in shape, work out again, get my life back!!!!
To complicate the recovery even more, I have had a cough/cold some sort of respiratory infection since the initial injury 1/20. Trying to avoid sneezing and coughing has been nearly impossible and the fear is real! I have had some serious coughing and sneezing spells. I could’ve taken medicine which would have helped my cough and also helped the weaning process by decreasing supply but I didn’t want medications to force me to wean against my preferences.
Thanks to a consultation with a lactation consultant, she came up with an organized plan/schedule to help my weaning process. Part of this weaning process involved training Cameron to sleep through the night, like 10pm-5am. Our pediatrician said he was heavy enough where he didn’t necessarily wake up because he was hungry. And this was true as he was used to waking up around 10:30 pm (when I’d enter the bedroom and he could smell me), 1am and 3am where he’d cry, start to suckle and then fall asleep quickly but would like to sleep snuggled close to me- something we both enjoyed about the night despite my lack of sleep.
Luckily, I was away during the time to sleep train/wean these feedings. I went to Phoenix for a girls’ trip to celebrate our upcoming 40th birthdays. These are my home friends whom I’ve known since 3rd grade and junior high. More than half my luggage was my pump, parts and on the return, a cooler bag/ice filled with frozen milk. I was VERY proud of myself for keeping up with the schedule and luckily didn’t get a clogged duct. I had never exclusively pumped for so long.
The lactation pathway is amazing. I realize how fortunate I was that my milk came in (Day 4, a bit later than with Jacob but whew!) and Cameron ate and enjoyed eating with me. Somehow, the hormones regulate themselves with supply/demand and adjust in a few days so you’re not a milk-fall with breasts the size of bowling balls. I was an exact producer- 1 oz/hour. If I drank some coconut milk, almond milk or coconut water, maybe I’d get 0.5 oz more or so.
Cameron and I are down to two nursing sessions a day- upon wakeup in the morning and before bedtime. I no longer need to pump at work which saves me a lot of time and stress. I love how he looks for my breasts when I get him lateral in the morning or positioned on the Brest Friend at night. He likes to pat me on my arms or chest to make sure I’m there. It makes me sad to thing that this relationship is coming to an end. I know this will haunt me for a long time- anything that doesn’t work in our favor will lead to guilt and sadness and maybe the lack of breastfeeding/milk is the cause of this bad outcome.
I realize that there is no evidence-based medicine to support that stopping breastfeeding will reduce relaxin, heal my pain, or improve my recovery. There will likely be some more guilt/resentment associated toward myself if I don’t get better. But what I do know is that I have to try everything I can to get myself better. I have spoken with a few people who say it can take years of physical therapy, core strengthening, etc. It will not be a cheap process either. Sigh.
My mom bod truly is a wonderland. Thankfully, my back pain is better so I can function at home and work and I am not bedbound. I have started Physical therapy and am going to be diligent with my exercise homework. Hopefully, Cameron and I will still have the bond although we’ll have 6 months less of nursing time that Jacob and I had.
Happy Belated Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend! We are approaching Jacob’s 3rd birthday and we are not having a birthday party this year for him. Instead we are doing experiences like Sea World and Legoland with him. Stay tuned for stories about these fun adventures.
Did you have any pregnancy/postpartum ailments? How did you overcome these obstacles? Did you feel a lot of pressure to start/continue to nurse/pump?