During my last pregnancy with my fifth baby I started having severe pains in my pelvis. I could barely walk. My favorite hobbies of running and hiking had to stop. I was miserable without them. Plus, I love high impact exercises & challenging myself & those became too painful. I was devastated. My doctors said it’s normal during pregnancy and I’ll be just fine afterwards so I was trying to not stress too much. After all, I had four babies already & I was able to get to my same speeds of running after having all of them.
Well, I discovered that my damage to my pelvis started with my first pregnancy. When you tear really bad during birth you should see a therapist. This was 15 years ago & no one told me that. I was active duty Army & knew that at six months postpartum I HAD to pass my Physical Training test. Plus, I was an overachiever so I wanted to get the maximum score on my PT test & also do some extra events to test my physical endurance.
I had a total of five babies in 15 years. They were all between 7-10 pounds at birth. My smallest was only that small because they induced me three weeks before my due date due to illness. I remember having severe pains after my third baby but it was just brushed off as it’ll go away in a few months.
It is HARD when you’re in such physical pain but you have to continue living life, even with all of its ups and downs, because that’s what’s expected of you. So, I spent my days taking care of my family, exercising however I could, and eventually running at my normal pace.
I had my fifth baby in January. I went to my six week checkup and I was so excited to get the green light to get back to exercising. So, I went to a park with the family and did a slow jog with my 15 year old cheering me on. He’s always been such an amazing kid. We ran around a mile & I felt good. The next morning I woke up with a horribly sore pelvis. I didn’t know what was wrong, so I soaked myself in Epsom salts and I took some medicine & rested. The pain slowly eased up so I figured I’d try hiking with my kids.
Let’s remember – my choices were limited thanks to quarantine, so I had to find a trail we knew & I knew there’d be very few people. The kids were pumped to get out of the house. I was excited to take my infant on his first hike! Little did I know that I would experience shaking legs while going downhill & then barely being able to move my legs going uphill. I thought it was so odd. I suffered through the two miles with my amazing kids & agreed with my husband that I had to stop hiking and make a doctor’s appointment. The pain afterwards was horrible…but I was able to rest it away.
I saw my OB/GYN about four months postpartum & I was diagnosed with pelvic floor issues & uterine prolapse. You see, your organs slowly shift downward in your pelvis with age. Add in five big babies & my 5’2” frame & even though I was in great shape when I got pregnant the ligaments would slowly tear as I grew & my muscles would get weaker. Plain old kegels aren’t enough. My doctor told me he had hoped because I was active that I’d respond well to pelvic floor therapy. If I didn’t respond well I was looking at surgery.
Needless to say I right away made an appointment & started my therapy almost three weeks ago. My pelvic floor therapist is amazing. She describes every exercise & step of the process. She uses a machine for biofeedback to gauge my progress. She said everyone’s numbers are different but explained the machine measures as high as 20. My first appointment had me at a 3. A freaking 3. I felt weak. I did the exercises religiously for those two weeks. It’s crazy easy to do them, as no one can see you like at a gym! So…my second appointment showed my reading as a 14!
I was pumped. She explained to me that she under promises so that I don’t get my hopes up because I still need to remember to do these exercises daily. But…we talked about my limits.
Running is high impact. Pretend my uterus is a boat. The ligaments are the ropes that hold the boat. The water is your pelvic floor muscles. So…running causes a wake which rocks the boat & slowly frays the ropes holding your uterus & other organs up. To save my boat I have to give up running. It’s been torture ever since my doctor told me a couple of months ago to not run or do anything high impact.
Thankfully it’s not a death sentence for me. I can do other exercises, which I need to learn. So…I have choices of swimming, biking, yoga, Pilates, etc. I can do anything low impact I want! It still sucks thinking about the runs I wanted to do but no longer can…or the races I wanted to do with my kids…but I’d rather them have a mom that’s not in the chronic pain I’ve been in.
And that’s what motherhood is all about.