A Realization

The night before my grandmother-in-law’s funeral, it occurred to me that Aubs wouldn’t grow up knowing her great grandmother. I guess it is all a part of life and death.

I grew up with most of my grandparents and some of my great grand parents. I guess I just take it for granted they would always be around. This is one of those parts of parenthood you don’t think about until something happens.

My dad’s dad died a few months before I was born. Most of my life I would think, “My paw paw would be so proud of me”. I don’t know if other people think things like that about their passed family that they have never met.

My grandmother-in-law had probably seen my baby just a hand full of times. Between her declining health and my health problems, it was hard to get together like we used to.

I just hope my daughter knows her great grandmother loved and loves her. She would have spoiled her so much.

One of my own grandmothers passed when I was a teenager. I know she would have loved her, too. She was one of the most loving people on the planet. I knew her love for me and I know for a fact she would have adored my baby.

I guess this is the point in life where you really have to make things count. Not take others for granted and make memories that will last a lifetime.

My First Fall

This is where the fun begins (sarcasm). This is also where my distrust and disgust in our healthcare system begins.

The date is March 16, 2017. It is my husband’s 31st birthday and the day before we were due to sign our papers to purchase a new house. It is about 7am and I am waking up to use the bathroom. My back is still hurting; it is hard for me to get out of bed. I ask my husband to stand behind me just in case.

You may be thinking, “Just in case? Why would today be any different? You just have weak muscles and a back ache from just having a baby. You are normal and just have to tough it out and deal with it”.

This is when I started to realize this is not normal. Nothing that has been going on with my back for the last 3 months was normal.

I start to get out of bed. I make it to the edge, I grab the headboard to help pull myself up (like I have been doing for the last few weeks). I stand up.

Next thing I know I can’t see anything. I can hear my husband calling my name but I cannot open my eyes. Let me explain something about my husband, he is not an emotional man. I’ve only seen him cry less than twice in our 5 years together, but I can hear pain and fear in his voice.

Once I am able to open my eyes I realize I am on the floor. I just passed out. I have never passed out in my life. I try to get up but I feel a TERRIBLE pain. Pain I have never felt in my life. Mind you I just went through child birth a few months prior. This “normal” back pain, just caused little healthy me that has never had any major medical condition or situation, to pass out.

I cannot get up. I can hear my baby crying in bed, my husband is concerned about me and I cannot get up off the floor.

I tell him to deal with the baby and I call my mom to come over and help. I also call an ambulance because every time I move my body, I feel like my organs are being ripped out through my back. The pain was in my mid back area right under my ribcage mostly on the right side. Again, not knowing much about my body I was thinking maybe it was my kidneys. Maybe I was having a kidney stone.

I felt dumb calling the ambulance service to come get me off the floor. I felt like I was on one of those commercials. The only thing I could say is, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”.  I may have even laughed a few times while saying it. I was in pain, but it was only when I moved. More on this later.

In the meantime, my mother shows up to help with the baby. She gets the baby from my husband and they stand there and look at me, her and the baby. I don’t know which was worst for me, hearing the baby cry on the bed while I was on the floor and could not get up and do anything or having my baby see me on the floor unable to get up. I told my mom to take the baby in another room; I did not want her to see me in that condition. I was supposed to be one of the strongest people in her life and here I was, helpless. Even though I know she could not comprehend what was going on, it still made me feel like less of a mother.

“It’s ok”, my mom said, “she just wants to see her momma”. I let them stay there. Maybe seeing me would comfort her since I could not physically comfort her in that moment.

The ambulance arrives and paramedics come in. I am in a 3 foot space between my bed and the wall. For them to assess me they lift me on the bed. Remember that terrible pain I described earlier? It was back and I begin to get light headed. The paramedic keeps telling me not to use my muscles. Let them do the work. That was easier said than done.

They get me on my bed and then start checking my blood pressure, doing an EKG? and testing my blood sugar. My blood pressure would get low every time they would move me. They had to put me in a chair to get me down my stairs. As soon as they put me in a sitting position, the pain came back. “Trust us, stop using your muscles,” he kept saying. I am not 100% sure, but I am sure your core muscles that support you while sitting, probably activate themselves while you are sitting whether you are trying to use them or not.

I got really weak and my blood pressure went down again, almost causing me to pass out again.

They get me outside and put me on a stretcher. It feels nice outside. It is a cool morning by Louisiana standards. None of my neighbors were outside gawking at the spectacle I was making (thank God). They load me into the ambulance.

This is the first time I am in/ride in an ambulance in my life. The paramedic is putting me an IV while the other one was driving. That takes confidence if you ask me, to stick a needle in someone’s vein while in a vehicle that is in motion. I noticed how good the shocks are on the ambulance (traveling down a road that I am familiar with and know where the potholes are and I do not feel most of them). Occasionally we hit a bump and I do feel it and the pain comes back.

I accidently grab the paramedic’s leg and yell out in pain. I apologize to him. He understands. Considering I just had a baby, I was a breastfeeding mother and it was early in the morning, he figured maybe I was just dehydrated and having muscle spasms. He gets them. He understands the pain.

Then, we get to the hospital.

A Side Effect Of My Conditions

My husband’s grandmother passed away last night.

This has made me realize, due to my fractures and back pain, my husband went from visiting his grandmother 3+ times a week to only once every few weeks or so.

She was like a second mother to him. They were close. He was the only grandchild that would see her on a regular basis and help her around the house whenever she needed. His grandfather passed a few years ago so my husband sort of became the man of the house for her.

I do feel guilt for keeping him from being around there so much. I do realize I have no control over it also. I needed him.

I am in a Facebook support group for women who have gotten Osteoporosis from pregnancy/breastfeeding. They have helped me realize I should not feel guilt for this. His grandmother would have wanted him to be the man he is, and stay home and support me and take care of his baby girl.

This also reminds me I need to get Aubs baptized. Our family is Catholic so having her baptized is a big deal. I am saddened that there will be one less person there physically now. I know she would have loved to see her first great-grand baby baptized.

Its not that I have just been dragging ass on this. There has just been so much going on with me that I haven’t been able to get to that. I know when we do get to baptizing the baby, great grandma will be there in spirit.

Nevertheless, I will miss the time we spent with her. I am lucky to have gotten to know such a loving, strong willed woman over the last 5 years. I am glad my baby got to meet her.

Leading Up To My First Fall Part 2

So the weekend went by and I still was not feeling any better since my chiropractor appointment. I was supposed to go back in on the following Monday, but since I wasn’t feeling any relief, I canceled it. I know you may be thinking, “Sometimes it takes more than one time to get everything right”. Especially considering that I have never been before. I know this. But, for the amount of money I had to spend (insurance wouldn’t cover anything until I met my deductible); I figured I would try something more cost effective. Being the stubborn person that I am, I still refused to go to my regular doctor over this matter. Therefore, I decided to get a massage.

I have gotten massages before and I would say this one went like any other. I went in, told her where I was hurting. She said she could probably work it out for me. On this day, my upper and lower back was hurting.

She worked on me. She got my upper back feeling back to normal. My lower back, I noticed she spent a lot of time on one area. Being that I don’t know everything about my muscular and skeletal system, I assumed it was just a tight muscle. Afterwards, she did mention that I did have some tension in some parts of my back. Upon leaving, my upper back felt great. I felt back to normal in that area. My lower back however, still hurt.

I know sometimes getting a massage can cause more pain for a little while and then it usually goes away. I wasn’t in extreme pain upon leaving this time like I was leaving the chiropractor. I thought this was it. I thought I just had some tight muscles and I got them worked out and everything would be on the up and up and I would be normal in a few days.

If only it were that easy.

Leading Up To My First Fall Part 1

Let me preface this post with saying that other than having a fractured wrist from a snowboarding accident when I was 18 and having a baby in December, I have never had any medical problems that required me to go to the hospital. I hardly ever got sick even. I hadn’t gone to the doctor since I was 18 with that wrist fracture (other than my yearly lady visits).

Anyways, remember how I keep saying that all this pain I was feeling was supposed to be normal? Well, I took it as that. I am super stubborn when it comes to going to the doctor and every doctor I did talk to, told me the same thing. What was I supposed to do? I let it get to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. My husband was telling me to go to another doctor but I figured he would tell me the same thing (wait for more on this in upcoming posts). So I decided I needed a massage or to go to the chiropractor. Maybe I had just been through a lot (like child birth and taking care of a newborn) and needed some relaxation or an adjustment.

The way my back felt, felt like I had a cinder block pushing down on my spine.  I felt a lot of pressure in my lower back. It started when I was just holding the baby, but then it started feeling that way when I wasn’t holding the baby. For my upper back, I can honestly say I really think that was just poor breast feeding posture. It would go and come depending on the day.

So, I went to the chiropractor. I have never been to a chiropractor. I did not know what to expect or what was normal. Half of the people I spoke with said they are awesome, while half of them told me you couldn’t pay them to go to one. But I was getting desperate. I needed relief and I thought this would help.

I go in, they ask me a few questions and then put a little machine on my back to tense up and relax my muscles along with a heating pad. After that goes on for a little while the chiropractor comes in and proceeds to “adjust” my back. No x-rays, nothing more in-depth than a few questions.  My grandmother was with me and said I yelled and “saw stars”. She said she has never seen someone react like that to what I was having done. The chiropractor said all the sounds my body was making were normal. He said it was like breaking 26 years of rust off.

After the adjustment they showed me some stretches that should help the situation and set me up an appointment to come back the following week. When they were showing me the stretches, I could not even lift my arms high enough to do what they were showing me because my back was hurting so much. Nevertheless, I didn’t know any better and thought I was on the road to recovery.

There are many times in the last few months that I thought I was on the road to recovery, but then something else would happen. I am getting to the point where I don’t want to think I am recovering because I am scared something else will happen and set me back again. This makes for a not so joyous life when I should be in the most joyous state with just having a baby and being a new mommy.

However, I remember sitting in my car after my appointment and thinking, “Man my back still hurts really, really bad. I don’t think that helped. If anything it may hurt more”.

My Current Feelings

I won’t lie, dealing with all of this is hard. Very hard. Considering everything I put into place so that I could be the best mom I could be when my baby got here and I cannot even hold her.  I try to convey to my family the pain I feel in my back but I do not think they understand. I hear things like, “You should try to start lifting on her”, or “You should try to start moving around more”. I am doing what I can. Do they think I want to be like this? I move around as much as my body will allow me. I tried to lift her once in the last week and then my back hurt for 4 days. I am trying to walk, to do more. I don’t know what to do with myself. However, hearing others say “do more” is not as helpful as they may think it is.

I feel like they think I am making it all up. I wish I were. That would be easier than dealing with all this. If only I could secretly pick up my baby and carry her around the house when no one is watching. If I could be the one to give her a bath in her little baby bath tub. If I could go a week without having someone else be in my house, taking care of my baby for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am blessed and beyond grateful that I have the family and the support that I do in this time of great need. But this isn’t what I pictured the first few months of my baby’s life to be like. I honestly feel more like my child’s Aunt than her mother. That is something that rips my heart to pieces. I am trying my best though. I just want her and everyone else to know that. I am trying my best.

It takes approximately 3 months for compression fractures to heal. I am almost 2 months into the healing process. I haven’t slept a night in my bed in a month and a half (since my last fall). This is my plan: heal, physical therapy then hopefully move on with my life and be as “normal” as I can be. Hopefully I can rebuild my lost bone and become stronger than before. Since these things usually happen to women around their menopause years, I have a lot of time to go. Hopefully the lifestyle changes I implement now will prevent me from getting full blown Osteoporosis later.  I can hope, right?

The Beginning

There aren’t many things that are more miraculous than having your first baby. Everything about that whole experience is nothing short of amazing. In the months leading to the birth, you imagine what life will be like. You think about what they will be when they are older, how they will act. You think about taking them home and how you will navigate through those first few precious months. You think about some of their firsts. Their first outfit, their first bath, the first night in their crib that is in that beautiful nursery you spent some much time decorating.

Then, once the time comes, you get experience many firsts as a parent. The first time holding them, looking into their eyes trying to tell their soul how much you love them. The first time you change their little diaper. The first time you swaddle them (or attempt to). The first time you try to feed them, whether it is breastfeeding or with a bottle. Then you get to take them home.

I had my first baby in December 2016. As any parent would feel, I was excited to go through all these firsts myself. I would say my delivery went well. I was progressing at a comfortable rate and before I knew it, it was time to push. After pushing for 3 hours, she just would not come down far enough to come out. At the 3 hour mark, my doctor decided to try to the forceps. These did not really help the situation progress any further. I ended up having to have a C-section, but we both made it out happy and healthy so I would consider it a success.

Being that I had a C-section, I had to have a lot of help in the first few weeks while my incision healed. I was able to hold her in my arms and eventually able to lift her on my own. She was breastfed so we had to work hard to get that going. It took a few weeks for her to successfully latch and then a few more weeks to figure the rest out. Eventually though, we got it.

Then came time for my 6 week post partum check up. I noticed I had back pain that would never go away. I asked my OB/GYN about it and of course it was just normal back pain. It was the kind of back pain that you just have to get used to with having a new baby and the whole labor process and then finding the proper breastfeeding posture. I also figured that since I had a C-section, I was using my back muscles more so that I wouldn’t use my stomach muscles. All in all, I figured it would go away in a few weeks.

Then came Aubs’ 2 month wellness checkup. I still had this back pain. My back pain was strange, it would travel. Some days my upper back would hurt and some days my lower back would hurt. I figured at 2 month postpartum, the pain should be just about over. Everyone was telling me my lower back pain was due to my epidural. I asked the pediatrician if he thought that could be the case, but he said where the pain was, was too high for it to be the epidural and that epidurals usually do not cause back pain. That was an overall consensus of many of the doctors I talked to. They all said epidurals usually don’t cause back pain while everyone I asked in my life said they do.

Anyway, life goes on. I just kept going. I tried my best to take care of my baby the best I could. We ended up having to co-sleep because I could not pick her up to put her in her bed. We spent many hours in my bed. My bed became the place where we slept, her changing table and the place we would play. There wasn’t any way I could get her on the floor to play.  Bath time was as struggle but I pushed through because, well, my baby needed to be cleaned.

Around this time I began to notice none of my new mom friends were having these troubles I was having. I saw pictures of them holding their babies while standing and the tummy time pictures. The cute outfits they would put their babies in. I could hardly lift my baby to change her diaper much less try dress her in things that require more than 1 piece. These were things that I wasn’t able to do because of this back pain I had, but then again, my pain was normal and I just had to get used to it. These overly simple things, I could not do, and that is normal?

Intro

Some women prepare much of their life for children while others, it just happens. I belong in the first category (although there is absolutely nothing wrong with the second). I did all the “right” steps in the “right” order before trying to have a baby. I made good grades my entire school career. I went to and graduated college. I got married. I worked hard and saved my money to be able to get a decent house.

Then, I decided it was time. I knew I ready to have a child. When the time came I also decided to quit working. I wanted to be one of those moms that are always with their kids. Teaching them new things and watching them develop into little people they would become. My mother worked when I was growing up so my grandmother watched me a lot and I went to daycare, etc. This is not the life I wanted for my child. I wanted to be the one around all the time to raise my child and not have to have other people watching them like I experienced. I put everything in place so that I could stay home and take care of my child.

Finally, the time came and my little bundle of joy entered the world. Even though I went through all the steps and did everything in a way I felt would be the “right” way, things aren’t going as planned. I am 26 and currently I am not able to be the mother I always dreamt I would be. I cannot do 90% of the things a mother does.  I need help with the baby, ALWAYS.  I cannot lift her, carry her,  bathe her,  dress her or change her diaper. I have had difficulty rocking her. I have difficulty breastfeeding her (something I am very passionate about). Pretty much all I can do is have her sit on my lap and I can try to play with her with one of her toys. My baby is almost 5 months old and I am just now able to get on the floor to play with her for a few minutes here and there. I have to have someone in my home 24/7 to help me do my job as a mother. This is the most heart breaking time in my life, but I want to share my story.

This is all due to having compression fractures in 5 vertebrae in my back. Even though I am only 26, sometime during my pregnancy and breastfeeding journey, I seemed to have lost some bone mass. They call this Osteopenia. It is like Osteoporosis, but with not as much bone loss. Generally, Osteopenia is just a risk factor for Osteoporosis. Except in my case where I actually fractured from it. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful to just have Osteopenia and not Osteoporosis. But with the fractures, it is still putting a damper on my role of being a mother. The ways that I have in my mind and in my heart, the mother I have spent years on preparing to be.

It seems as though this condition goes unnoticed, undiagnosed and untreated. It is often referred to as Pregnancy-Associated Osteoporosis or in my case, Osteopenia, There are hundreds, maybe thousands of women, both new and veteran mothers of various premenopausal ages, which are suffering with unexplained back pain and the doctors aren’t taking the appropriate steps or asking the right questions to figure out why. They just keep saying, “That’s normal”, or “You just have to get used to it, you just had a baby”. If you noticed a few lines up I put premenopausal. This is because this condition affects people (the youngest I have seen is 23) that are nowhere near menopause age.

Most people build bone until their 30s. Then it usually slows down and when women go into menopause, that’s when they usually develop Osteoporosis. I am aware that pregnancy and breastfeeding can reduce your bone mass and I can accept that. The problem is when you have unexplained fractures.

Everyone kept asking if I experienced something traumatic to cause my fractures. It is something that usually happens to people that get in a car accident, or fall out of a multi-story building. I experienced none of that. Many of the women with this condition, that fracture, do so without ever knowing how, why or when. They just know they have pain and no one can figure it out (it often requires X-Rays or MRIs to find the fractures and most doctors do not take these steps because they don’t think things are as severe as we try to convey). And by back pain I mean, I cannot lift, raise or carry my child kind of back pain. It got to the point where I would have muscle spasms and pass out from the pain while getting out of bed. But this seems “normal” and we just have to “figure it out”.

This is my story. I am not sure why I feel compelled to put this all out there. I don’t know if it is just me trying to convey to my family and friends how difficult this really is, or if I am trying to get therapy from the writing or if this may help someone in need. Either way, my name is Mel and this is me trying to raise Aubs.