Monday, July 29, 2013

Chronic Pain, Pregnancy and Parenting

Emily with Chronic Pain Bear
When I was younger, I had the life goals of being married and having kids. While my goals changed over the years, I still wanted to be a mom someday. My chronic pain started just as I was starting to date Todd. I got in control of the pain somewhat and decided that I wasn't going to let the pain stop me from living my life.

Early in our relationship, Todd and I had a long discussion about what we wanted long time out of a relationship as well as what our goals and dreams were. Todd wasn’t as gungho about having kids as I was, but still was willing to have one. We decided that we weren’t going do anything but try. If I couldn’t get pregnant the old-fashioned way, we just weren’t going to put ourselves the stress of trying to conceive with fertility drugs or IVF.

We got married September 30, 2006. Because we were already living in NC, we went home to Michigan to get married. All of our vacation time for that year was used up on our wedding so we waited a year to take our honeymoon. As soon as we got back from our Disney World honeymoon, we started trying for a baby.
At the time, Todd and I were working separate shifts. We only saw each other on the weekends so I figured it would take a while to get pregnant. We were both very surprised when I found out I was pregnant three months after we started trying.

Pregnancy isn’t fun at the best times, but my chronic pain made it worse for me. I did not really enjoy being pregnant for most of my pregnancy. The 1st trimester was miserable for me. My pain levels were higher than usual and I was so nauseous most of the time. I could hardly eat and lost a ton of weight. Because of the weight loss, I only gained about 8 pounds over the course of my whole pregnancy.

The 2nd trimester was a little better. My pain levels returned back to normal and I started to show. Emily was starting to move but it didn’t affect my sleep. I felt good enough in my 8th month to go to Dragon Con. I had a great time, though thankfully took advantage of the disability services. I was able to wait for panels by sitting in the handicapped area where there were chairs and staff members would bring us water sometimes.

Once Dragon Con was done, I started feeling worse. I was getting huge at that point, and was having issues moving around. My pain levels spiked again and I was having a lot of trouble sleeping. I only had one comfortable position when I was lying down, but Emily didn’t like it so she’d kick me until I moved. It was unpleasant.

I was induced on October 17, 2008. After laboring for 13 hours and not progressing, I had a c-section. Emily came into the world just fine, and starting nursing like a champ right away. We stayed in the hospital a couple of days so I could recover, and then we headed home.

Parenting was exhausting in the beginning. I would keep her in our room so I could sleep while she slept. I ended up being laid off from my job right before I was supposed to go back after maternity leave because of the poor economy. I never intended on being a stay at home mom so it was a bit of an adjustment.
I ended up suffering from postpartum depression and I was untreated for eight months because I thought I was just depressed because of losing my job. I got help and as Emily got a little older, I started to feel more human again.

Because I’ve had chronic pain since before Emily was born, she’s only known me with my pain. I think this may help her be a more caring person when she grows up. It’s given her a unique view of chronic pain even at the tender age of four.

When she kisses my forehead, she says she is kissing my headache. She gives my headache lots of kisses so I can feel better. One day when I was feeling really bad, she gave me one of her teddy bears. He got the name Chronic Pain Bear and I snuggle him when I’m feeling really badly. She’ll also cuddle with me and be quieter when she knows I’m having a high pain day.

I feel bad when my pain level is so high that I can’t play with her but luckily she is an understanding and caring child. While having a baby when suffering from chronic daily headaches probably wasn’t a great idea, I’m glad I did because I love my daughter very much.

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