Chronic Pain + Child Rearing = Whose Idea Was This Again?!

As stated in a previous post, I suffer from fibromyalgia. My symptoms first started about 10 years ago, right after I (finally!) left a very damaging relationship (for good). So you see, childbirth was not my first flirtation with trauma. Hence my insistence on sticking with one kiddo rather than taking a gamble on a second attempt at a “normal” birth experience. I have been in survival mode for awhile now. Switching back over to a martyr model is a bit like picking at old scabs. Only in this instance, the scars are worth it and more meaningful. Ivy is more deserving of my affections. Regardless, the self-sacrifice of parenthood takes a heftier toll because of my past and the illness it brought forth.

Fibromyalgia can be so much more debilitating than a Lyrica ad projects. Treatment is a total crapshoot. Unlike taking an antibiotic to treat an infection, trying to find the right medication(s) for taming chronic pain can be quite the feat. Personally, I prefer to steer clear of Big Pharma for multiple reasons. Most notably because I believe that the side effects often create even more issues and sometimes are worse than the illness itself. Many if not most of the medications used to treat fibromyalgia are not suitable for pregnancy or breastfeeding anyway. Basically I’ve always preferred massage, Extra Strength Tylenol, hot showers/heating pads, and most of all sleep (ha!) as my go-to treatments for getting back on my feet during a flare.

What is a flare? My illness is always in the background, sort of hovering. But every once in awhile, it likes to remind me who is in charge (especially if I’ve had a decent period of feeing fairly normal again). This is when it reaches a certain level of intensity in which I no longer have the luxury of ignoring it. The hallmarks of fibromyalgia include fatigue and pain (sometimes in specific areas, sometimes all over). But beyond those, there’s numerous ways that a broken nervous system can affect you: anxiety/panic attacks, random bouts of depression, brain fog, gut issues, and a lower threshold for sensory stimuli (to name a few). Do you know what else can cause these symptoms?

A lack of quality sleep ☹

The newborn phase was particularly harsh. Recovery from childbirth, less sleep than I thought was possible for a human to survive off of, and breastfeeding in numerous awkward positions all contributed to the worst neck pain I’ve ever had. I couldn’t turn my head all the way in one direction and one night my eyes went blurry from nerve pressure. When I laid down, my neck would throb through my pillow. It was beyond terrible.

So having fibromyalgia and caring for an infant (who does not sleep well!) is a double whammy that I’m trying to adapt to. I am saved by the knowledge that we are done having kids, so I will never have to relive this time again. In addition, I just keep telling myself One day at a time…I just have to do whatever I need to do to get through today. It’s kind of working, I guess. I’m not terribly depressed, just depleted as hell.

I feel a special kinship with my baby. Her nervous system is immature while mine is defective. When I’m tired and we are in a crowded loud place with bright lights,  I   feel overstimulated. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to not have the power to leave that type of situation. As a result, I am hypersensitive to Ivy’s cues when she’s had enough and feel more inclined to help us escape whether or not it’s socially acceptable on any given occasion. “Wait! I didn’t get a chance to hold that baby yet!”  And you’re not going to today. Sorry, not sorry.

Some days a migraine leaves me throwing up while Ivy cries in her crib. Other days, we take a 2 hour nap together, and life seems a little brighter for a bit.

In a nutshell, chronic pain makes you want to drop out and shut down. Unfortunately, taking care of a baby does not allow that sort of thing.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, life goes on…

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