Big zebras don’t cry

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my EDS pain post partum has been fairly intense. I’ve written about the pain in my shoulders, but really, my whole body has been a bit of a mess. I guess this should be no surprise, since I did just have a baby 7 weeks ago, but I have been feeling as though it is so much more than that. My wonderful doctor has been great in these past few weeks about wanting to help manage my pain, and referred me back to physical therapy, after giving me a few meds for pain (they ARE rated safe for breast feeding… as safe as you can get) and advice on baby wearing. One of the meds my doctor gave me is one that I have taken before, another one is new; she asked me if I needed a refill on one that she had given me right after birth for post partum pain, but I thought I would be fine, so I said no. I was oh, so wrong. The two meds she gave me were barely touching the pain on their own. It was brutal; so yesterday, when I saw her for a follow up, I was going back and forth in my head as to whether or not I should ask her for a refill on it. I was so scared to ask her. See… we zebras have a high pain tolerance. We don’t really cry when we get hurt, and usually we just laugh at the monotony of the situation because for someone who has EDS, “getting hurt”  isn’t really news; chances are, we’ve felt that pain before. That’s why, when walking into my doctor’s office, I was scared to ask her for a refill on that one medication. I felt like I should be crying or showing one of the standard “faces of pain” – you know… the little chart on the walls in hospitals and doctor’s offices that help them determine how much pain you’re in –  like a normal person. But I don’t really cry when I hurt. In fact, I don’t usually even show it in my facial expressions when I’m in pain. If I do cry when I hurt, it’s more from the frustration and/or exhaustion caused by more pain in my life. Again. So because I don’t really show pain emotionally or through my facial expressions, there was that fear that doc would assume that I was just a drug seeker trying to get my “fix”. (I can’t tell you how many times I have been told that ibuprofen or tylenol should “cover it”. And if that doesn’t work, I should “be used to the pain by now, right?”. Sure, sure. Asshat. – excuse my language.) Thankfully, my doctor didn’t even go there! I guess that’s one advantage of (for the first time in my life) having a doctor who believes me and believes (and understands) my pain. Instead of making me feel badly and telling me that I should get used to it or get over it, the good ol’ doc asked me a question I never expected to hear! “Okay! So… how many do you think you would use in a year? I mean… that’s just much easier, right?” I was flabbergasted! But walking out of there knowing that I have a doctor on my side, who believes me and trusts that I really do know my body and my pain… that feeling was priceless.

Now… being a mommy puts a whole new spin on this whole pain and pain management situation, especially because it involves pain medication. As a mommy (and I’m sure all of the daddy zebras can relate), having a condition that involves chronic pain is HIGHLY inconvenient. This is mostly because there is just no time to be in pain or focus on damaged joints. Your baby (or in many of my EDS friends’ cases, babIES) need you! Right now, my biggest concern is nursing. While my doctor has assured me that all of the medication I am taking is safe for baby C, I do know that the FDA has stated that no medication has actually been determined to be safe during pregnancy, so my brain tells me that the same goes for breastfeeding. So, if you’re thinking about it, I don’t need the lecture. I already feel guilty enough for giving my needs a priority, but I’m realizing that I AM important too. I don’t need you to judge me or make me feel worse, so keep it to yourself. While breastfeeding and caring for my one baby is my concern, so many of my friends have several babies (granted, they are mostly bigger “babies”).

These friends of mine are facing so much more than just the daily struggle with their own pain; they have to worry about the struggle with pain that their children have to face. Many (if not most) of my EDS friends have children who also have EDS and/or other disorders. Because EDS appears to be genetic – not all families are able to trace it back to diagnoses in previous generations – I definitely worry constantly that my own baby could inherit POTS or EDS or both from me. For my friends, this worry is in their faces every day! It’s their reality. I can’t even handle it when my little boy cries just because he wants his binky… I can’t imagine what it would be like to see him go through the same pain that I do. These parents put their pain on the back burner, and I have noticed that it doesn’t come back to the surface until it’s too late to be proactive. Many, many times, I have seen these friends of mine literally get knocked on their asses.

Let me make things clear; mommies and daddies are not the only ones who push their pain down. Oh, no. All zebras do it. I mean, come on, no one believes in an illness that can’t be seen. Now, I love old people – Haha! Maybe that sounds weird. I hope where I’m going with this doesn’t offend too many, but if it does… well, just don’t read my blog anymore. Whatever. Let me continue… I love old people, but they usually are the ones to say the things that drive me craziest! I shall explain. Old people want us to appreciate and enjoy our youth. They are wiser and more experienced, and they know what’s coming for us, even if we don’t. Seriously… chances are that they really have “been there, done that”! This is something that I sincerely understand. But the thing that drives me the craziest; the one thing that sort of pierces my heart and makes me wanna slap an old lady is when I hear, “Oh, you healthy young people with your youth! You just can’t understand the aches and pains of us old people” or “Well… you don’t know what it’s like. You’re young and healthy!” It sincerely takes everything I have in me not to grab that person and shake him or her and scream “I hurt every day of my life! Healthy, my eye! I would love to only have aches and pains in my ‘golden years’! But I’m not so lucky!” There are so many times that I want to scream about the pain that my friends are in, because let’s face it, I’m one of the lucky ones! I can still get around on my own; I can still leave my house and work. Many of my friends just don’t get to do that.

But big Zebras don’t cry.

So I keep my mouth shut and silently curse the “healthy young people” with all of their youthfulness and whatnot. 😉

Let’s talk about physical therapy.

Today was my first session back in physical therapy with my wonderful, wonderful physical therapist. This woman worked so hard with me throughout my pregnancy to make sure that I was strengthening weak ligaments without hurting myself more, and really worked to understand the relationship between EDS and my ligaments and my pregnancy. So, today I walked in, hoping that I had done enough work to avoid throwing things off TOO much through childbirth and in these weeks post partum. However, my pain told me that reality was likely the opposite. And the latter was true. As it turns out baby C “did a number on ya!” Yeah… I thought so. On one hand, I was bummed to hear that there is a lot of work ahead of me. On the other hand, it was kind of nice to once again be validated in my pain. And on one foot (since I’m out of hands at this point), I was glad that I worked so hard during pregnancy. I just keep thinking about how much worse it could be if I had never attempted to strengthen my joints! According to the lovely A, my spine and hips are pretty unaligned; my sacrum is rotated; and my shoulders are slipping forward, with one extremely stiff and the other on the verge of dislocation. Beautiful, isn’t it? 😉 Needless to say, I got my butt kicked a little bit today. But it’s okay. I love that burn that comes with knowing that I am getting stronger!

Alright… well… my hands and wrists are giving me fits and that makes it tough to type, so that’s it for today!

Still… Life is beautiful, even when my body hurts. And THAT is why big Zebras don’t cry.

 

Much love and Zebra hugs! “See” you next time 🙂

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To be or not to be… Crunchy?

Becoming a mommy has changed my life. I’m sure any parent would attest to the fact that babies change absolutely everything. But we begin preparation as soon as that test shows positive. There are so many decisions to make; so many choices. What will we name him? How will we raise him? Will I get an epidural? Should I breast feed? These are only a few of the questions that arise. But there was one question that I was completely unprepared for going into pregnancy. This question fell to me on another blog site where I chat with mommies, wives, and wonderful women. That question was: Will I cloth diaper?

Cloth diaper!? Ewww… of course not!

That was my automatic response. When thinking of cloth diapers, all I could imagine was the white cloth and safety pins, poop everywhere and dirty toilet water all over me! How wrong I was!

These days, we are seeing a trend. I guess you could call it a “hippie mom” trend. But it’s more commonly known as being a “Crunchy mom”. Along with this trend, comes new ways of doing things that our mothers and grandmothers probably never had the opportunity to enjoy. Cloth diapers are just one example. Compared to the white cloth and safety pin standard, there are several choices for the cloth diapering family: Pocket diapers, all-in-ones, all-in-twos, liners, inserts, bamboo, cotton, fleece, microfiber, velcro, snaps… the list goes on. Never in a million years did I imagine that I would even consider being a cloth diaper mom! And even bringing the idea to my husband made me feel like a huge “hippie”! But then I looked at the price comparison. After a larger initial investment, I realized that we would never have to buy diapers again and would see a return on our investment in a very short amount of time! Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some lines of cloth diapers that are a pretty penny. (We were lucky to be gifted one of those lines in entirety.) However, there are several much more affordable options! you could probably spend an average of $250 for a good stash of cloth diapers including liners/inserts, where you might spend $250 or more on disposable diapers in roughly two months! Before our generous in-laws purchased our awesome custom made diapers for us, we had decided to purchase a sort of “sampler” package of diapers, since we had no hope of finding cloth diapers in our small community. From there, we had planned to sort of just build on our stash as my pregnancy progressed. So… we made the decision to cloth diaper from a financial standpoint. (Sure, there is more laundry to do in our house, but there would be anyway, right? I mean… baby boys – and babies in general – pee A LOT, and our baby boy is a champ! Not to mention spit ups… All of this combined, we go through more than one outfit a day for sure. So, the laundry aspect was not intimidating to me.) But then we learned about the environmental standpoint.

Did you know that even when using disposable diapers, all feces should first be disposed of in the toilet before tossing the diaper in the trash? Neither did I! But it makes sense. Because no one knows about, and therefore does not follow this policy, there are landfills containing (literally) tons of human feces. This isn’t right. Human feces belongs in sewage. It’s supposed to go through a septic tank and the water will then be purified and sent back down the pipes. I mean… you wouldn’t catch a grown man taking a poo in a trash can, right? So, why should we toss our baby’s poo in the trash?

This article will explain the environmental need for cloth diapering in more detail:

http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/dangers-of-disposable-diapers

Now, lately I have begun to ask myself this question: is this trend in cloth diapering a fad, or is it out of necessity? We all know that the economy is not fantastic. And global warming is an ever-present threat. So… is this a fad that will die out again like bell-bottomed jeans or will it stick around? I have myself wondering if people are choosing to cloth diaper from a financial standpoint or an environmental standpoint. I have decided that I believe, personally, that it is a combination of the two. My generation of moms and dads still need to leave this earth in good shape for our kids, so why not try to minimize our footprint? However, just like everything else, the cost of diapers is on the rise. Why would I want to spend thousands of dollars on diapers until my son is potty-trained, when I could save that cash for college? To me… the decision was a no-brainer!

Our stash of Nifty Nappy cloth diapers

Our stash of Nifty Nappy cloth diapers 

See more Nifty Nappy creations at http://www.facebook.com/NiftyNappy?ref=ts&fref=ts or http://niftynappy.com/!

There is much more to being a “crunchy mom” than just cloth diapering. I won’t be covering all of it, but here are a few more:

– Home-making pureed baby food

– Breast feeding (usually longer than the standard three months)

– Natural birthing

– Baby wearing

On the topic of breast feeding my son, it was an obvious yes! But I didn’t realize how difficult the learning curve could be. In the beginning, we had issues with latching and then we had serious problems with gas – ending up with a SCREAM session after each feeding. But I really didn’t want to give up. There are so many advantages to breast feeding, not just for C, but for me as well. It helps the uterus to contract, helping it to go back down to a normal size; it burns calories, sometimes helping moms to lose pregnancy weight more quickly; it can reduce risk of breast cancer, the list goes on. But some really cool things about the mother-baby bond during nursing that I never knew about before my Doula informed me, strengthened my determination to breast feed for a full year. Did you know that a nursing mother’s supply will change based on her baby’s needs? So, a mother who is sick will produce anti-bodies in her milk so that nothing is passed along to the baby. On the other side, a mother who is nursing a sick baby, will produce the anti-bodies he/she needs to help baby recover. What’s more, as my baby grows, the amount of fat and the density of my supply will change, in order to satisfy his needs. To me, this is just so cool! And I feel so lucky that my baby is a great nurser and that we have a really good, steady supply. I know that there are moms out there who have chosen to formula-feed and I have nothing against them whatsoever! I know that sometimes moms don’t really have a choice. Sometimes, breast feeding is so painful, the mother cringes the whole time and baby can sense that anxiety related to eating. For other moms, supply issues prevent her from being able to nurse her little one. To these moms… my heart goes out to you. Formula-feeding seems much more difficult than breast feeding! When we leave the house, I don’t have to think about how much formula to bring along, or how many pre-made bottles we might need, and I don’t have to worry about that extra expense of buying formula frequently. C’s meals go with him wherever I go! I am so thankful to be able to nurse my little man.

Now, let’s talk about baby wearing. What in the world is this? When I first heard the term “baby wearing”, my mind went to a picture in National Geographic of an African village woman strapping her baby to the front of her, carrying around a basket of fruit or something. Honestly, that’s pretty much exactly what it is (though I’m usually carrying around a basket of laundry)! There are several methods of baby wearing, because there are several different brands of slings to choose from. Personally, I have a Seven Sling, a Moby Wrap and a Wallababy. They all work differently, but they all accomplish the same thing: A hands-free mommy! However, I choose to baby wear for a different reason than most moms. In my last post, I mentioned the pain and damage in my shoulders and my doctor’s advice to “wear” C as much as possible. So, this decision has come out of necessity for me. If you didn’t read my post from yesterday, I will recap. Since C’s birth, I have had a lot of joint pain (probably more than I have ever had before), and my shoulders, specifically, have been in really bad shape. My doctor suggest that I avoid using the car seat as a baby carrier at all costs and that I wear him as much as humanly possible, so that I can avoid possibly needing “new shoulders” in my 30’s. This is one dose of bad-ish news that I have not minded receiving! I now have a great excuse to get extra cuddles from my little man! And in the last few days that I have been wearing him, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to get those cuddles without a tremendous amount of pain. Honestly, even if my shoulders weren’t in bad shape, knowing how great baby-wearing is, I would do it anyway! It is much easier to calm C when I put him in the Moby and it makes sense. These sling type carriers mimic the tight hold babies experience in the womb and he gets to hear my heart beating. It’s much like walking around with a baby swaddled to your chest. If – big IF – we ever have another child, I will definitely be baby-wearing again.

So… I’m a crunchy momma, though mildly so compared to some, and I am proud of it! Every parent wants to make the best decisions possible for their child, and I am proud to feel that I am making the best decisions that I can for C and for our family. This little boy is our pride and joy, and we wouldn’t do a single thing differently.

If you have questions about anything in this post, please feel free to leave a comment or send me a message. I am more than happy to share with you! 🙂 For now, I leave Zebra hugs and love for all!

A Zebra Mommy

It’s been quite some time since I last posted, and our baby boy is here! After nearly 54 hours of labor, he made his appearance on 12/12/12 at 10:54pm weighing 6lbs 8oz and measuring 20 inches long. He is six weeks old now and simply growing like a weed! Life is bliss with him in it and I am constantly amazed by him. I have all of the sleep deprivation and aches and pains of a new mommy, but living the life of a zebra mommy is definitely difficult, and, I imagine, different from most. 

If you have read my previous blog posts, you are aware of the problems that I have with EDS. For those of you who may not have read my previous posts, I will recap quickly. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type III, which is known as the hyper-mobile type. This means that I have hyper-mobile joints, which will dislocate and sublux (slip out of place) on their own. EDS is accompanied by chronic pain in the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles… you name it. Basically… it hurts.

During my pregnancy, I had serious problems with my hips and needed to use a belt to hold my hips in place, because they got to a point of slipping out every time I took a step. My wonderful, angelic OB recognized my need for help and quickly got me into physical therapy, which made a tremendous difference. My physical therapist is a saint, and approached me – having never heard of EDS – with several gentle exercises and an arsenal of prenatal yoga. I can honestly say that I would not have made it through my pregnancy walker-free, if it hadn’t been for these exercises. The pain was unbearable and there were several times that I found myself “stuck”… sometimes standing, sometimes sitting, and sometimes, I was crouched on the floor. All of this happened even with my physical therapy, so I can’t imagine what it would have been like without it. 

Now, since having C, I can honestly say that I have seriously “earned my stripes”. My shoulders have been in an uproar, my hips are trying to find their place but seem to be lost, and my every joint hurts, right down to the knuckles in my toes. This is when I have to remind myself that I’m simply not like most moms. My 6 week post partum appointment was a glaring reminder. 

After discussing my recovery so far and all of the positive things that have occurred over these past 6 weeks, I wanted to talk to the doc about my pain. Thankfully, she has always been open to talking about it and has never told me that she didn’t believe me. She asked me what I did for pain before pregnancy. I said that I employed the “grin and bear it method”, explaining that the last doctor I discussed it with simply brushed me off and told me that I needed antidepressants. Now, I do know that they CAN be helpful with chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and others, but I’ve been on antidepressants; they don’t help. Doc came right out and asked me if I am depressed. No. She stated that I have never seemed even kind of depressed to her, despite all of my pain and frustrations throughout pregnancy. She did admit that antidepressants can be helpful with chronic pain conditions as well, but acknowledged that this is so much more! I can’t tell you the relief I felt in hearing validation for my complaint! This is something I had received only once before and several years ago. We discussed my need for pain management, and she gave me solutions. We talked about the need to strengthen, yet protect my joints (especially my shoulders), and she got me referred back for more physical therapy. She also sent me away with great advice (and warnings) on how to avoid more damage. At this point, the main concern is my shoulders. I have been told to avoid carrying C around in his carseat, and have been advised to “wear” him as much as possible. The result of ignoring this advice and not moving forward with physical therapy could mean needing new shoulders as early as my 30’s. That’s just over five years away! It’s highly likely that I will need new shoulders later on in life anyway, but there’s simply no reason to run into this problem as early as my 30’s, if it can be avoided. So… that’s the goal for now. 

There is so much more to talk about, but these Zebra wrists and fingers are worn for now. Expect to hear from me again soon, but for now… I give you all my Zebra hugs and love! Talk to you soon! 🙂