It was sometime during my 7th month of pregnancy with our third child that my husband found out he would be gone six weeks prior to our child’s expected birth and for six weeks following our child’s birth for a job. Having the foresight of two prior pregnancies and knowing that my mother could not stay for an extended time, I asked for my mother to come stay with us after the birth. But before the birth was another issue. Our oldest child was three and he had more energy than the entire family combined multiplied by two. He had two speeds, go fast and sleep; there was no in between. Our second child did not have the high energy but was a bit colicky even after turning one. She always knew what she wanted and most of the time it was mommy. Both pregnancies were high risk due to the premature birth of our son and the early labor pains of our daughter, so by default, this pregnancy was high risk as well which meant additional doctor’s visits with the kids trailing along.
Now, I’m 5’2” on a good day with a very short-waisted so all of my babies stuck straight out making me look like I had a beach ball inside my shirt more than an unborn child. My posture was forced to change, I could not sleep on a flat surface because I literally could not breathe, and I was often carrying around one of the other two children if not both from time to time. On top of all that, I was exhausted trying to keep up with our son and managing our daughter’s crying bouts. The only relief that I had been my husband coming home at night to help out with the kids and now he was going to be gone.
The back pain was the worst I ever had in my life even after having gone through two car accidents that damaged my back. I could not take pain medication because of my high risk pregnancies, the chiropractor was nervous about continuing treatment so close to the expected date, and over the counter medications did not work with my history of ulcers. So I had to learn how to manage the pain without the help of any medication, without the ability to lie flat (I slept in a La-Z-Boy), and in between caring for the kids.
Take a load off. Just getting temporary relief from the pain was helpful and restored my energy levels back to my new normal. While heating pads helped at home, the largest difference was going to our neighborhood pool for at least an hour a day and just standing in shoulder-high water. The kids loved to play in the pool and armed with extra floatation devices to put my mind at ease, I was able to get the weight off my back. The water took the pressure off my back and for an hour a day my back felt weightless. On days that I could not go to the pool, the garden tub we had been helpful but did not provide the deep relief because my stomach stuck out of the water. Taking a load off my back did help to relieve the pain and taught me the importance of caring for yourself so you can care better for others.
Ask for help. Ok, I admit it, I’m not the type to ask for help or admit that something is too much for me to handle. When my husband first told me about the job I encouraged him to take it and never once asked him not to see the job through to the end. I did not want to be the reason he did not do something that he really wanted to do, so I dealt with it. My husband, concerned about me and knowing that I would not ask for help, had two friends of mine come over to help several nights a week. They would come over, take care of dinner, watch the kids, and let me take a break in my bedroom. I’m grateful for them and my husband and somewhere along the way I learned that asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Allowing others to help literally carry your burden can ease the back pain.
Get some rest. Sleeping on a La-Z-Boy night after night is not the most restful sleep but it was far better than not breathing or waking up to the circulation being cut-off in my arms and legs. Having two young children taught me many things, one of which is to sleep when the kids sleep and the second of which is to value rest above sleep. I honestly do not think I knew what rest meant, to me to rest was to sleep, but my kids taught me otherwise. I learned that rest means relaxing, stopping what you are doing, letting the dishes pile up if necessary, watching a favorite kid’s TV show, or just observing them playing. These simple things reminded me that rest does not have to be sleep and resting can alone ease the back pain.
Finding relief for back pain is not a fixed formula. Sometimes the pain is because of a physical problem and sometimes the pain is because of an emotional problem. In my case, it was both. But learning to take a load off, asking for help, and getting some rest provided me with the relieve I needed. Oh, and our third child, a girl, was born without any complications, hardly any labor, and with minimal medications while my husband was home for the weekend. God is good.
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