To say the last five years have been tough is an understatement. My mind and body have been put through the wringer time and time again, and I often wonder whether I seriously pissed someone off in a past life and karma is coming back to bite me.
Where do I start? Late in 2009, I fell pregnant with my first child – all planned and totally expected, so no surprises. I pretty much sailed through the first trimester with no signs of nausea and all the scans showed our little peanut was perfectly on track.
The first half of the second trimester was also fairly easy, and I was that woman on the bus who was glowing due to her growing bump. As soon as we could, we found out the sex of the baby, a girl, and I was secretly over the moon. I had been telling myself it was a boy, but I desperately wanted a girl so I could have the chance to recreate the special bond I have with my Mum.
It was at 30 weeks when it all went downhill and FAST! We were due to move into our new house and the day we moved in, I slipped and fell over. Not a big fall. I was a little shaken but totally fine and not in any pain. Later that week I started to feel pain in my groin and pelvic area so I called my obstetrician who suggested it was “more than likely pelvic instability”. As this was my first pregnancy, I wasn’t familiar with the term, so I did some research and the symptoms seemed to explain what I was feeling.
I went to see a sports physiotherapist and a regular physiotherapist, but it didn’t really help and over the next few days the pain worsened. Someone suggested I see a chiropractor who specialised in women’s health, so I did that too. By this point I was really struggling to walk (and drive) and the chiropractor suggested I use a walking stick for support. I still remember having to lift my left leg to place my foot on the clutch every time I changed gears on the 30 minute drive home from that appointment. If only I had known then what the real cause was, things would have been very different.
So my Mum took me and my walking stick off to the hospital to make sure our little lady was OK. She was totally fine (phew!) but I was really struggling to walk, let alone get up on a hospital bed. One of the midwives suggested I should consider using a walking frame. So off we went to the chemist to hire one of those zimmer frames that old people use – what the?
To add to all of this, my husband Dan was in South Africa for the World Cup and was becoming increasingly worried about me and our girl. He changed his flights and came home early and by the time he was back, I couldn’t walk without the help of the frame. I can’t even explain how quickly I went downhill. Within the space of two weeks I was in real trouble. I couldn’t walk across the room, I couldn’t walk up or down stairs. I had to lift my legs into the car. I needed help getting in and out of bed. I needed help to get dressed and undressed. I would stand at the sink and try my best to do the dishes (something normal!) but it literally felt as though someone was behind me kicking my knees so they would buckle. In general, I couldn’t look after myself.
Over the next few weeks my Mum took time off work to look after me, and Dan did as much as he could before and after work. I basically needed full time care as I couldn’t even get myself a drink of water, difficult when both hands are holding on to a frame and your legs are like jelly. Simple everyday activities like showering and going to the toilet became almost impossible, so we hired a shower seat and one of those frames that sit over the toilet. I would not have admitted it at the time, but essentially I was disabled and totally in denial. I was ‘fine’, ‘not dying’ and constantly saying things like ‘it happens to lots of pregnant women’ and ‘I’m sure it will right itself once I’ve had the baby’.
Fortunately our girl was in the breech position, so it was decided that at 38 weeks I would have a cesarean. I was stressed and worried but tried so hard to be the strong woman so no-one had to worry any more than me.
So we were packed and ready for the hospital, but the night before I had a fall in our bedroom. I was stuck between the walking frame, our bed and a small chest of drawers – my legs had buckled underneath me. Dan must have tried for (what felt like) half an hour to get me up but I became more and more distressed because I was scrunched over my big belly. I was panicked that I was squashing the baby and I couldn’t stop crying, which turned to screaming and general hysteria. Dan was beside himself but he eventually got me up and onto the bed.
Even though it was around 1:00am I asked him to call Mum as I desperately needed her by my side. I needed to go to the toilet but I just couldn’t walk, I couldn’t put any weight on my legs. I wet myself! The stress of the fall had bruised my back, left me in shock and I was a complete mess.
Dan ended up calling an ambulance. Mum and her partner arrived about the same time the paramedics did. By that time I was out of my mind and totally crazy – I couldn’t move, calm down or think clearly. The two paramedics (both male) were brilliant and in no time they had settled me and we were on the way to the hospital.
The morning of 22 July 2010, Ava Isabel was born and I fell in love with her from the very first glance. She was the most amazing thing in the whole world and for the first couple of hours with her I completely forgot about all the stress that had come before.
But wait, there’s so much more. Stay tuned for Part 2, on the blog next week.
Thanks for reading