My son is now 4 and a half months old. I am running marathons and climbing mountains! Weren’t you at 17 weeks post-partum?! No? Me either! Actually I am far from it. I am not even jogging, not even using the elliptical…5 minutes of pilates makes me cry in pain! Don’t worry, this isn’t the usual for new moms.
I mentioned earlier that I am healing slowly and that my hips are misaligned. It seems my hip and pelvic ligaments like to move and shift causing sharp pain and strain on my leg and core muscles. My abdominals are also slowly growing back together and without their strong support to keep everything more in place my pelvis is not very stable. I have been seeing a physical therapist for 2 and a half months now. I am faithful to do my at-home exercises and stretches (most weeks) and I walk more often than not for exercise. My walking is slow and many times I have to revert back to wearing a belt of sorts that helps support and keep everything in place. About every week I get pulled on, poked with needles, and readjusted. At first I was very optimistic and excited to bounce back. After two set-backs of being back to the same amount of pain, if not more, my optimism wavered a little. The last month has been full of prayers that I would not be in too much pain during the day so I can rock my baby to sleep or that I wouldn’t aggravate something during the day and have to go to bed early and miss opportunity to catch up with my husband.
“It’s only been 4 months!” I kept hearing from well-meaning friends and family. But my mom reacted differently. When I went to stay with her for a couple days, a while ago, she watched silently as I eased myself in and out of chairs, sat down promptly in the evenings to avoid standing too much, and limped in the late night trying to rock my over-tired baby to sleep while wincing in very bad pain. She watched, but trying to be respectful, didn’t say anything for a few days. One morning I was very short and rude with her, as I fought to not cry from pain. Later in the day when we were together she quietly, politely mentioned that maybe I needed to look deeper into why I am in pain. The more we talked the more she expressed she was worried about me. As much as I tried to commit her comment to being an “overreaction that is common with moms” a small thread of new thoughts started to creep into my mind. This woman had been the main drive and motivator behind the discovery of my gluten intolerance. With price no objective, she prodded and pleaded for me to “check things out” and not just suffer with unbearable stomach pains every week. So when she spoke up, I started to listen. I also started to realize maybe there is something more to this. Maybe I am not suppose to be just trying to make it through each day, each week? Often thinking to myself, “maybe when Lucas is 5 months, 6 months I’ll be ‘normal’ again”.
When I went home I started to research myself, as much as I could, what the symptoms I had could be attributed to. You know what I discovered?…Forum after forum of women who were asking the public the same questions I had, “was this normal? Is something more serious going on? Should I be suffering every day?” The thing that shocked me the most was that some of these women had been living this way for more months than me, for years even! Some women had been caring for multiple children, working, trying to be attentive to their houses and husbands in a lot of pain! Day in and day out for a long time, they were “getting through” each activity that made them wince and think, “oh no, tonight will be a bad night”.
I felt for these women. I felt deep concern and sadness for not only their pain, but their aloneness. That night I went in my room and cried myself to sleep. I cried for my own silent, suffering days, when I tried to put on a face, be thankful for everything else, deny how much it hurt, and above all else NOT SAY ANYTHING TO ANYONE AS LONG AS YOU CAN STAND. After all, who needs to hear you moan and whine when there are orphans with no food and people with cancer. Now those are the people with REAL problems, right? I cried for those women who felt the same way I did. The ones that struggled with the same pain and the same mental battles over that pain. Trying to care for someone else when all you want to do is go back to bed and try not to think about how much you hurt.
Now, to some people I may seem dramatic here. Especially when (and I am very aware of this) there are much harder pains and problems people are walking through right now. My goal is not to make you feel bad for me or even to make you think I am some “tough woman” to live in pain (because I definitely am everything but strong right now). My goal is to encourage those of you that are suffering alone. Especially you women! No, you are not weak and being a baby and emotional. Whether it is physical pain, emotional pain, or relational pain…YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ALONE! Do you cry yourself to sleep sometimes too? Why?
Here is the hopeful part of this excerpt…I finally spoke up more. I talked to my husband. I started telling him exactly how I felt and what things made it worse. I would text him at work and ask him to pray for me on hard days. He would jump in and try to help how he could to lessen the physical load on days when the pain was really bad. I texted close friends and asked them to pray for me too. I eventually told my bible study and asked them to pray for healing (something I have trouble believing in at the moment). I have found a lot of support from people who love me. A really good friend told me, “when you are injured, you think ‘this will never end’ and it feels like this is your new normal. But it’s not. And you will get better eventually”. I really needed to hear that. And I realized that that is true about many “valleys” we go through. Like after my dad passed away and I struggled not feeling depressed for a long time. In the moment that valley seemed like it would never end. But slowly, eventually things got better. The pain eased just a little, and hope and joy took that place of bitter mourning.
If you are someone who is walking through something really hard right now, please PLEASE don’t keep it to yourself. Please find someone you can confide in and share it. Share ALL of it. Share the struggle, the doubt, the pain and you will be amazed at the weight you feel lift off of your shoulders. That person may not be able to solve that problem you are having and trust me, that may hurt them or drive them crazy (which is why you didn’t want to tell them in the first place). But that is part of sharing your load with them. In a way you are allowing them “in” and there is a reward and gift in being able to be that person to help with that load.
If you are a person that someone is confiding in about something hard in their life…stop trying to fix it. There is a time for advice and help, and don’t stop that when needed. But if you can’t take their pain away, don’t try. Just BE. BE THERE. BE THERE WITH THEM. Be in the yuck, and the pain, and the hard nights and days of doubt. Just be you, with them, caring, hurting yourself in sympathy, and in some strange way you are making it ok until it gets better!
Well, back to my “story”…it is not finished. I am still hurting, still going to physical therapy, still getting adjusted. I have a doctor appointment in a couple weeks (unless the pain gets too bad, then I will try to go sooner). I am hoping my doctor can at least let me know if I just need to be patient with the healing or if I need to get tests done to make sure there isn’t something more serious going on. I am learning a lot about myself in this time. No, I am not “joyfully jogging”…but, like I have written in earlier posts, running is always painful. There is a gift and a growth in the pain that does not go to waste. Physically, I am weaker and less active than I like, but mentally and emotionally and spiritually I am growing! And I AM happy! I am thankful (really, really thankful) and even, sometimes, hopeful
So here’s to a “silver lining” and to not going through valleys alone!
If you are someone who is silently hurting and DON’T have someone to confide in, or if your story is similar to mine and you could use a friend to walk through this with, feel free to message me on this site! I want to hear from you! I truly do care!