July 2017

So I struggled quite lot in the beginning. I couldn’t physically sit down at all initially after the birth, as the pain in my coccyx was so intense. It was stressful as I had my little baby to care for and all I wanted to do was to sit back on the sofa with him in my arms and cuddle. This was out of the question. To breastfeed him I had to lie down, which on its own wasn’t too bad, especially at first. We stayed home anyway most of the time, as neither could I sit but nor could I walk too much (vicious circle oh yes!) so I took the time to get to know my baby in the relaxed environment of home. When I look back at those first few weeks I see myself lying on the sofa, cuddling or feeding my son. E had two weeks of paternity leave. (Actually, who am I kidding, he had 3 days of paid leave and the rest were holidays. But all that belongs in a different discussion…).

He did so much for us though. When I got up in the morning he had prepared me breakfast, usually a fruit salad – my favourite! When he came home from work he would take over the care for the baby and he cooked dinner. Although the eating itself was enjoyable I always feared the moment I had to move over to the table, as I knew how painful it would be to sit down on the chair.

For my relationship with the baby it didn’t matter too much that I could only lie down. I enjoyed his company and he enjoyed being fed, in a way it was a win-win situation going on! But when it came to socialising it became a bit of a struggle, how could I go out if I had to lie down every time I had to feed my baby?! I soon became that really awkward mum who either didn’t come out at all or when I did it had to be brief so I could get back home again in time to feed my little one. And with feeds every 90min that lasted for at least half an hour each? Well, there wasn’t really time left for much else. And further, when I did come out I had to bring my super specialised  – and essential  – pillow to sit on as there were no chances in the world I could sit on a chair without it. Heaven was when I could visit someone else’s home where I could use a bed or sofa to lie down on to breastfeed. Sometimes I breastfed standing up in a baby sling when we where out, me and my son developed a certain technique where this was possible. Anything to avoid sitting down.

Sounds awkward doesn’t it?

It was.

Some might wonder why I just didn’t endure it and sat down to feed him anyway. But the truth is that the first couple of months post birth the pain was simply too intense. I couldn’t! In that pain I also wouldn’t be holding my baby safely throughout the feed and it was simply out of the question. Some also wondered how I didn’t give up the breastfeeding and started bottle instead when it was such a problem, but when I thought about this option I soon realised that also with bottle feeding I wouldn’t get away from the part of Sitting with the baby.

The sight of a chair sometimes made me panic. It was absurd that a thing that in reality was so normal i.e. to sit on a chair, could affect me so much. My realistic me said that of course it would get better, but I didn’t know how much better it could get? Was it temporary, or was my life going to be like that from now on, and forever?

But more than anything it made me feel like a horrible mum. When I looked at other mothers I felt I stung of jealousy as I just wanted to be able to sit like a normal person and enjoy cuddles my newborn. Whenever I tried I lasted for a few seconds but the agony was always too intense and I had to give up. What a failure.

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I was on a ski holiday with friends and at the end of the last day I did that thing you are not supposed to do. I took the ski lift up the mountain again and went downhill for that ‘last one’. I was tired, the slopes were icy, with bulky patches of snow around. And I fell. I fell and landed very badly on my bum. I had done this millions of times since starting snowboarding, but I felt that this time it was different. I knew it was bad.

To make a long story short I have since then always struggled with tailbone/coccyx pain. The first 6 months post-injury were almost unbearable, the first year horrible and then it got to a point where I could start live with it but it affected my life quite a lot. I struggled sitting down for too long, cinema was something to endure rather than enjoy and travelling in a car or an aeroplane was a mission, and I would never be particularly comfortable in a sofa or an armchair.

So when I got pregnant 10 years later this whole thing of giving birth concerned me a little. Could the coccyx injury affect the process? Could the pain get worse by a vaginal birth?

I saw my Women’s Health Physiotherapist a few weeks before the due date to discuss the issue, and she gave me exercises to carry out in preparation for the birth and we discussed birth positions. As I usually found it painful to lie flat on my back, I soon understood that this position was not going to be an option for me in any part of the labour process. I would need to give birth for example on all fours, standing up or any other way as long as I wouldn’t put pressure on the tailbone. That obviously didn’t happen. 

My prolonged labour and complex birth aggravated the tailbone pain to an unbelievable extent. When the effect of my epidural wore off I quickly realised that it was something that would affect mine – affect our life massively. I had experienced that coccyx pain a decade earlier so I just knew this wouldn’t be easy to recover from, and even worse was that this time the pain was on a totally different level.

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So there are good days and bad days when it comes to my motivation. On the good days I try to forget about the negatives and almost pretend I physically am like pre-pregnancy. I just get on with the training, it is usually a spin class or a strength workout either at home or down at the gym. I close myself in the moment and just go for it. I happily set the alarm to get up in the early hours before my family wakes up, just to make the most of the day and to get my training sessions in. I innocently fantasise that I am doing intervals on a track or running a half-marathon – yes it’s almost as if I pretend in front of myself that this is what I am actually training for. I do enjoy a good spin class and all respect for that also those sessions can give me an adrenaline kick, but in reality the only thing I wish I was doing all the time, is running. I have built my jogs up slowly and have reached a distance of about 5-6K as a maximum so far, and I generally feel ok when I am out there. In terms of fitness level I could do more, it is the sensible part of me that stops me from running any further (yet). And on those good days, I pretend that ‘these are just early days’ and I am just building my running up from here. That I will run properly again!

There are the bad days though. That’s when it feels like there is no point in doing all this. Of course training and keeping fit will always ’do me good’, and if anyone knows that it’s me! But motivation fails me when I start analysing the possibility that this might be all I ever will be able to do. Spin classes and the odd 5K jog – that is not the runner I want to be, not the runner I am supposed to be, is it?! Sure, the prolapse usually feels ok when I do my little run but I have learnt that when I jog in the morning and then also walk quite a lot during the rest of the day then it will be so much worse in the evening. I have also learnt that I cannot run in the evening. The pelvic floor muscles are tired from the day and they don’t cope with the running impact if I wait until the evening to go out. I have always liked running in the morning so in a way I don’t mind, but it has come to a point where if I don’t get it done in the beginning of the day, it is not like in the past and I have a chance later on to do it. Run in the morning, or don’t do it at all, basically.

So if I have overdone things a bit (by a jog in the morning and then lots of walking during the day) and when I later that evening sense that heaviness and chafing down there just by walking around at home it is hard not letting the bad thoughts take over, and feel disheartened. When these periods come I loose myself in a bad spiral. I miss one training session and the next day my thoughts go along the lines: What difference will it make if I miss another one? I’m not a runner anymore anyway. Not really doing a half-marathon or a steeplechase race in this life again am I? So why bother. One session missed, two sessions missed, three sessions missed. So? It won’t change anything. Whatever.

This is not ok. And it’s so unlike me! I have never before in my life felt like giving up would be an option when it comes to exercise and training, and I hate myself for that I now let it happen.

The good days come back though and when they do I recognise myself again – and the good periods are when I generally feel at my best, also in other aspects of life.

I just need to hold on to those days, day after day…

 

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There are so many things I cannot do anymore because of the massive change my body went through due to pregnancy and childbirth. It is sometimes hard to accept I am not the person I used to be. I became a mum, but I lost a little bit of Me on the journey. There are things I would like to do that I cannot do anymore.

But I am now a mum, a mother. I have a son that brings joy to my life every day. I have a family.

And there are so many New things that I CAN do! <3

 

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