Pelvic Girdle Pain - Chantelle's Story
It's April. I'm lying on my side, as usual (my right side, because if I lie on my left the nerve entrapment in my thigh causes my leg to go numb). I'm heaving with my usual shallow gasping breaths through a chest cavity that has had a great deal of its space invaded by womb and limbs. The waves of nausea that constantly engulf my gut night and day are rippling away through me. It's 2pm, which means I am in my 6 hour window where I don't get 5 minute braxton-hicks contractions that squash my bladder and make me need to pee every 30 minutes. I shouldn't start vomiting again until about 6pm. It's only 5 hours to go before I can get in the bath (knowing hubby will be home to heave me out again) where I can enjoy the only 3 hours in my whole day where I don't experience pain. The water and heat finally lifts the momentous weight of my womb off me and I can rest without the constant ache in my hips, groin, back, thighs, chest and tummy.
I'm huge. at 36 weeks pregnant, there is 6.5kg of baby inside me, in the form of two very healthy and exuberant little beings that do their best to kick around in what limited space is left. My stomach looks like it needs its own trolley. I haven't seen my toes in a long time. I haven't slept longer than 30 minutes in months. I haven't been able to walk properly for at least 4 months. And I have not stopped throwing up since week 5. Now I count myself lucky that the earlier 24/7 hyperemesis gravidarum has "settled" in to plain old morning and night time vomiting.
I'm living off chips and lime milk shakes because they're the only thing that tends to stay down.
I haven't been able to cook a meal, clean my house, or care for my daughter in a few months. I am totally, utterly depleted and miserable.
I decide to hoist myself out of bed. It has been about 45 minutes since I did a pee, and that's about my limit. This effort is mammoth. It's easier than rolling over, which literally takes 3 full minutes and much grunting. Wriggling to the edge of the bed, I use the weight of my legs and push through my arms to heave my self in to a sitting position. Here I catch my breath, adjust to the shift of painful spots which spread to my hips and back and wait for the dizziness in my head to settle.
Now I'm ready for the hoist up. Pushing with my arms on every available surface I manage to throw my momentous mass on to two shaking limbs.
Now stepping. Really, I should have had a walker. I don't know why I didn't get one. I remember being jealous, flat out mad and JEALOUS when I saw a very elderly couple leisurely walking down the street with their walkers. Like I NEED IT MORE! I marvelled at the Physio feeling jealous for someones walker, and kept my injudicious pride packed on my shoulder as I jauntily hobbled off and told myself for the 100th time that I was NOT buying a walker. Hubby's arm was just fine for a walking assistance apparatus.
I thought of my need for a walker again that day hobbling away from my bed. I used the furniture, the walls and all available door handles to slowly lurch my way out of my room to the bathroom. It was a long walk. My house was terrible for set up. I cursed that 15m walk to my bathroom a thousand times in that pregnancy.
But hobble away I did. It took about 3 minutes to walk that distance then collapse on the toilet.
When all this was done I decided to cart myself on to my couch just for a change in scenery. I wouldn't be able to sit there for longer than about 10 minutes before my legs would swell to epic proportions and render me incapable of bending my ankles to walk back to my bed. Truly, I was pretty miserable. Hats off to the glowing pregnant ladies who love it. I hated every day of it.
Then, my phone rings.
The head of Frankston Hospital Obstetrics has decided to come in on his day off and sneak me in for my C-section, rather than make me wait until 39 weeks. They said they know my babies are big and they'd rather get them just shy of 37.
I sobbed. And sobbed. And then I sobbed a little more. Finally. It was going to be over!! I did absolutely everything right to try care for my body that pregnancy. Before pregnancy, I was a runner, I taught and did pilates, I did weights, I did gym, I swam. I was the fittest I had ever been. I had the lowest risk factors for developing Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP). But there can reach a point where the sheer mass of baby overcomes whatever I threw at it. I literally could not stem the tide of the sheer volume my body had to adjust to carrying around. No amount of strength, belts, bands or wraps was going to stop it. I tried desperately to keep exercising but I was close to fainting with even the simplest of tasks, given the massive nutrient depletion I had from months of Hyperemesis. Eventually I had to succumb to spending 90% of my waking hours in bed, desperately wishing it was over.
Aside from how fantastic it was to meet my two little babies, it was the most monumental relief when they lifted those babies out of me. I was lying on my back with my epidural in place. If you have had a C-section, you might know that you can't feel pain but you can feel pressure and movement. And boy did I feel it when they lifted out the first 3.5kg of baby. Then the second. Then- I could breathe!
My cure for PGP was in the delivery room. I literally lost 15kg in that delivery room. The weight of baby, placenta and amniotic fluid totalled to that much. Then I lost another 10kg in fluid from my swollen limbs in the week after. That's 25kg in one week! But I would have been much, much worse and much earlier in my pregnancy had I not done all I did to help prevent it. Everything I did helped hold things back that little bit. And after they were out, I could walk and breathe and eat without reflux. Even recovering from a C-section, I could feel the difference so quickly.
A year later I was back running and weight lifting. It was a huge recovery. I didn't snap back. It took time and a lot of hard work. But when that Mum comes hobbling down the corridor to my treatment room, I really do feel that deep sense of empathy. Oh boy do I know that feeling well. I will never forget it.