Questions arise, such as: “Will my condition worsen from carrying a baby in my belly?” or “Will I be able to provide for my baby as adequately as a parent without the struggle?”
Chronic pain affects every facet of daily life. From your physical capabilities being compromised to your mental health suffering, it is inevitable that it will affect parenting and how far you can push yourself to provide for a baby. Here’s how I made the decision to become a mom, even through my chronic pain.
My Pregnancy Journey
I postponed getting pregnant for years because of my six-year battle with piriformis syndrome in my left buttock that ended with me having surgery to successfully remove the muscle. Unfortunately, the compensation from favoring my left leg for so long affected my right hip, and it was discovered that I have both types of femoral acetabular impingement (FAI) in each hip, with the likelihood of a labral tear now on my right side.
Due to my concerns of becoming a mom, the window for my comfort in the idea of pregnancy was closing as my hip continued to worsen. I only had time from my surgery date in August of 2018 until May of 2019 to get pregnant. After a miscarriage in December, my husband and I tried again until the final month when I decided that I couldn’t continue after May because my left hip started hurting. Having both hips in pain was my final straw in deciding it wouldn’t be in my best interest or that of a child to be pregnant under those circumstances.
That’s when I found out I was pregnant again.
Just like with my miscarriage, a few weeks into the pregnancy, my chronic pain actually subsided instead of worsening. I was told by doctors that the pregnancy hormone can eliminate chronic pain for the duration of a pregnancy, and up to a year afterward.
I experienced round ligament pain in my stomach every so often and my lower back started bothering me in my final weeks, but I was in less pain while pregnant than before! Had it not been for my severe morning sickness the entire pregnancy, I would have been able to enjoy it due to the newfound ease in my body.
Planning for Postpartum—But Not a Pandemic
My hip pain began re-emerging at one-month postpartum. Now at four months post partum, I’ve been noticing the steady increase of my pain and have yet to learn if my FAI will be worse than it was before pregnancy, as my hormone levels still have not returned to their pre-pregnancy state.
Although I had prepared for my postpartum time with outside help, five weeks after my daughter was born via C-section, the pandemic started—and my carefully-laid plans imploded. My mother and my husband’s parents had helped out during my pregnancy while I recovered from Hyperemesis gravidarum and we had planned to have them continue to spend quality time with their granddaughter while I slowly rebuild my strength. But, of course, the lockdown from the pandemic changed everything. That extra help has been removed as a resource for me while the fears of my daughter or her grandparents becoming critically ill from COVID-19 are real.
Additionally, in order to qualify for hip surgery, I was told before I got pregnant that I needed to get physically stronger because of how weak the deterioration from piriformis syndrome made me. The only effective form of physiotherapy for me was pool therapy, which I planned on reconvening after I was cleared by a doctor at my six week post partum check-up. With public pools now closed, my only source for effective rehabilitation has also been taken away. I had an MRI and orthopaedic surgeon appointment scheduled in April that got cancelled when society went into lockdown, with no sign of when either will be rebooked.
Picking up my daughter is hard and the difficulty increases as she rapidly grows—maintaining balance and my deep fear of dropping her due to my accompanying weakness are my top concerns. My greatest struggle requires walking, like taking her out for strolls in the carriage around the neighbourhood or walking her up and down my halls to calm her when she’s upset because it feels like my right leg is going to fall off from the pain circling my hip. Aside from the emotional toll this pandemic has caused with my daughter being separated from her grandparents, who are missing out on her growing up, not having any time for my body to rest has exacerbated my chronic pain.
In the end, I knew that become a parent would be a complete lifestyle change and that it wouldn’t be easy, especially because of my physical circumstances, but I could not have predicted the shutdown of society that occurred shortly after my daughter’s birth.
The pandemic has unfortunately interfered with getting medical treatment in a healthcare system that already takes years to enter, putting me in a daily survival mode of uncertainty. With no control over the future, my health or increasing chronic pain are no longer the top priorities—but my daughter always is.