Pain In The...

I used to think I had a low tolerance for pain, that I was easily broken.

This was mostly because other people told me I did. And because I have a healthy fear of things that hurt. I knew that being a mother would hurt but I had no idea how much.

I thought that labor would be the worst of it. You see all the movies and TV shows. EVERY SINGLE woman you meet when you're pregnant has a labor horror story to tell you. I was terrified. The fact that I had a C-section and didn't have to go through labor was a double edged sword (no pun intended...but accepted). I didn't have to get ripped apart from the inside by the Buddy, but I also didn't get the chance to prove to myself that I could do it; that I could handle it.

When I came home from the hospital everyone was amazed at how much I was doing. My mom kept saying over and over how she'd expected me to be bedridden for a while. Yes, I was deeply offended. No, I didn't say anything (of course). I was in crazy amounts of pain, more than I had ever felt in my life. BUT there was this tiny person counting on me so what choice did I have?

Adam proposed a theory about my reaction to pain. He said that when I had no choice in the matter I was a warrior, but when it was possible to curl up in a ball that's what I did. For a while I accepted that. 

I don't anymore.

Couldn't it be possible that the pain was always just as bad as I said it was? The cramps, the migraines, the sprained ankles, the battered knees, the hips, the back and all of the other myriad ways my body and I had let each other down. Could it be possible that every single time it hurt just as bad as I said it did? When I had the option to take care of myself, I took it. When I didn't everyone thought I was so strong. 

That wasn't strength. 

I wasn't strong for not asking for help getting out of the chair with the baby. I was being an idiot and they were all idiots for not stopping me, for not paying attention, for not getting whatever the hell it was I thought I needed to get up for anyway. We were all idiots.


Since giving birth I have bruised the top of my foot so badly that there was a shadow on the X-ray and stubbed my little toe on the other foot so many times that it swelled to twice its regular size. There has not been a day that my back didn't have both aching and shooting pains. My hip throbs and my knee locks up daily. My breasts hurt when they are full, when I start to pump and when they are filling.

With the exception of the feet - you wouldn't know about any of that pain. I don't say anything about it.  I mean, I get pissed because I can't wear the shoes I want, but that is pretty much the extent of my whining. I'm supposed to keep my foot wrapped and elevated and ice it as much as possible. Oh, and stay off of it. I'm supposed to do stretches and take hot showers or baths for my back and hip. This is all laughable.

I haven't pumped since yesterday morning. It's been almost 36 hours and my breasts are full to the point of excruciating. The cabbage leaves don't help. I'm taking ibuprofen and I did get to take a long, hot shower today, which was novel and lovely. Other than that I'm breathing through it and trying not to scream each time Buddy whacks me with a little four month old fist.

I have been moving very carefully. I try not to let anything touch me. I grit my teeth and breathe through the pain. I am not weaning myself off of pumping, I'm quitting. (The reasons why are for another post) I will walk through this pain and out the other side. The physical pain I can take.

The emotional pain, the mental anguish - that is what breaks me. There is no breathing through the anxiety. It steals my breath. I cannot fight through the depression, it steals my strength. The anger and frustration, the fatigue and loneliness, the guilt and the despair - in the face of those I am weak. In the face of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety I have a low tolerance for pain and I am easily broken.

Graeme Seabrook