I got pregnant with my second son when my first was only 6 months old, and like every woman, I felt the typical discomfort that accompanies a third trimester of pregnancy. But as my due date for my second son approached, he started to become a gigantic pain in my ass.
No, really — a literal pain in my ass.
I consider my pain tolerance to be above average, but toward the end of my second pregnancy, that tolerance was tested. We all know that having a baby, well… hurts. No matter how that baby vacates your body, it’s going to leave a mark somewhere, and it’s going to inevitably sting like a motherfucker at some point. Having had my first son just 15 months prior, I was hyper-aware of exactly how horrific my first time on the toilet after birth was going to be. I felt like I was mentally prepared for my body to go rogue after delivering my baby. Oh, but I wasn’t.
During my second pregnancy, my body had begun to turn on me in a way for which I was totally unprepared. For weeks, walking got more and more difficult. I felt a pain on the left side of my groin that was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I chalked it up to the normal pregnancy weirdness for a while, but eventually it became too intense to ignore.
I didn’t start my maternity leave with my first son until the day before my water broke, but with my second, I had to call it quits a bit earlier — 36 weeks, to be exact. I remember calling my supervisor and telling her that I felt like such a wimp. I pride myself on being tough and strong and reliable, but I was furious. I felt weak and useless and fat and wobbly and… just awful. I couldn’t stand longer than two minutes without shooting pain running down my leg, and I couldn’t sit either. Lying down only made it worse, depending on which side I was on, and trying to tend to my toddler became an all-day battle. Something was wrong, but like the tough girl I was, I ignored it.
At 38 weeks, I went into labor with my second son. The contractions were mild at first, but the pain in my groin/hip area had increased exponentially. When I got to the hospital, I was informed that I was dilated 5 centimeters. My labor stopped, but I was dilated enough that my doctor induced me. Having had a terrible experience with Pitocin during my first labor, I asked my nurse to line up my epidural at the same time. She was an angel and gave me the good juice as requested.
Hours passed, and despite the epidural, I still felt an incredibly intense, borderline unbearable pain in my left hip. When my husband arrived, he seemed somewhat confused by my wincing. I was too, because my right side felt like a dead fish, but my left side felt like I was a wishbone and someone was desperately wishing for ‘NSYNC to reunite.
The nurses flipped and flopped me in an attempt to get the medication to numb both hemispheres of my body, but nothing seemed to work. By that point, I had dilated 10 centimeters, and it was time to push. After delivering my son, my left side felt like it had been in a car accident. I remembered how my body felt after delivering my first son, so I was confused by the extent of my pain afterward. I had a newborn to take care of, though, so again, I ignored it.
Women are told to rest after birth, but I didn’t have that option this time. My son was born with an arrhythmia, so he had several appointments with specialists after he was born. I limped my way into every appointment like I had just been to war. I was hurting so bad, but I was more worried about making sure my son was OK, so I continued to ignore the pain that became more and more intense every day.
Standing hurt. Sitting hurt. Lying down hurt. Literally everything hurt.
At my six-week postpartum visit, my OB-GYN wasn’t concerned about my pelvic pain, so I scheduled an appointment with my primary care doctor. During that visit, she decided to take X-rays of my lower back and pelvis. When she showed me the images, my jaw nearly dropped. My eyes immediately darted toward a tiny line in my left hip socket (acetabulum, for my medical friends). It was a crack. Small yet visibly noticeable.
Apparently my body was so depleted of minerals from my first pregnancy that it hadn’t quite recovered before I became pregnant again (this is normal). As a result, my bones had never completely recovered from the first child before my second one was pressuring them every day, especially toward the end, when our bones soften to prepare for birth. My doctor told me that the pressure of pushing during labor is most likely what ended up cracking my socket and that a lot of women have birth injuries that aren’t even correctly diagnosed. I ended up walking around with a crack in my hip socket for months.
If I had listened to my postpartum body instead of trying to tough it out, I might have healed much sooner. However, I’m stubborn, so now my child is almost 2, and I’m still dealing with difficulty with my left hip.
Moral of the story: Don’t ignore what your body is trying to tell you!
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