I had two caesarean sections in two years. I’ve been in pain for most of that time, plus the six months that baby Dunk has been around. For two and a half years I would injure my back doing laundry, heavy lifting, and mopping the floor. About six months after Little Miss Adorable was born I was diagnosed as having a one-inch gap between my abdominal muscles. Regular physiotherapy helped close that gap and rebuild my damaged and overstrained muscles. But I would still get more than my share of back aches because my abdominal muscles couldn’t pull their weight.
Before Little Miss Adorable was born I was in pretty good shape – not Olympic athlete standards, but a strong and active body. I exercised regularly and was the Yoga Queen. I could carry groceries up a few flights of stairs, help move a sofa, and mop the floor. C-sections changed that. As my abdominal muscles were weakened, the rest of my body tried to compensate. The rest of my body only ended up straining itself too. Bad knees? Check. Bad neck and shoulders? Check. Bad hips? Check. Bad pain? You got it.
When I was pregnant with the Dunk I experienced serious back and hip pain as all my ligaments stretched. I stopped working before my scheduled maternity leave. We were trying to have a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean (VBAC). The Dunk was born by C-section one week after his due date (my OB will not induce labour in a VBAC, so overdue babies become another C-section, by default).
I have to say that I am thankful Little Miss Adorable was born by C-section, I do not think she could have survived labour. I was happy to hear the Dunk literally born sucking his fingers. My family doctor cites common problems women experience following a normal vaginal delivery – incontinence, tearing, risk of infection, and claims of overall increased risk to mother and child. My children and I are still here, and we are grateful for that. For the record, Mr. Sensitive was born after an 11 hour induced labour, with the cord around his neck. He was grey and quickly revived. I remain thankful for all the medical care my family has received.
But I still wonder – what are the alternates? Is it worth it? (I’m talking about being in so much pain and living with such a degree of muscle weakness that you cannot pick up your baby; not whether children themselves are worth it.)
Yesterday my abdomen went into spasm (over 6 months post-C-section). Hubby had to help me out of bed. Later that morning, I bent to pick something up off the floor and could not return to an upright position. Hubby trundled me to our local hospital’s Urgent Care Clinic. There disinterested doctors took my medical history, performed routine blood work and an ultrasound. I told them I believed I had a gap in my abdominal wall, they offered medication for pain. The doctor demitting me recommended physiotherapy, and advised that I might have torn a muscle in my abdomen. The doctor’s opinion was that physiotherapy could help, but only surgery would fix it. Do I really want another surgery?
I feel like an air traffic controller trying to stack another series of appointments into our family’s busy schedule. Does Hubby have to take time off work to be with the kids while I go to physiotherapy? It looks like the only time I have available is Friday evening, but that is our traditional movie night. Do I miss cuddling on the couch with the kids for an exercise regime?
When I was a child growing up I remember my mom always had a bad back. Now I understand why – she had three C-sections. She’d have to rest and not lift us up. Do I want my children to remember their mother in chronic pain as well?