This is a post explicitly about my health. If you’d rather not know what goes on inside my skin, for, like HR reasons or your own personal comfort, maybe skip this one.
One of my biggest concerns about becoming a parent was the physical toll. I didn’t know if I was up for it, and, frankly, I might not be. I have what is known in the scientific community as “Health Stuff”:
- Fibromyalgia (for which I’ve had the diagnosis for only a couple years; I still don’t fully get it)
- Spondylolisthesis (a long word meaning that my spine is congenitally fucked up)
- Interstitial cystitis ( or “IC,” with my primary symptom being chronic pelvic pain, specifically pelvic myofascial pain)
All of these are invisible illnesses, or they would be if I hadn’t started rockin’ the cane a couple years back. The cane has been hugely useful in indicating that it’s not just laziness that keeps me from wanting to stand on the Metro or be the one to move the boxes full of anvils. Any of these things might be fine on their own, but they don’t play nicely with each other. The modified posture I’d taken on from years of pelvic pain is the likely trigger for the spine fracture, to which I apparently was already predisposed, but if I’d spent the last 15 years doing ab crunches instead of trying to avoid putting any unnecessary pressure around my bladder, the vertebrae would probably have stayed put. There’s no way to put the bones back where they belong; I can only keep it from getting worse. The fibromyalgia diagnosis was kind of a breakthrough, because it changed the way we were treating the interstitial cystitis, and now, thank fuck, the IC is in remission.
I overdid it with walking last week (while carrying a foolish choice of shoulder-bag), and then I further overdid it when I leapt to catch Charlie as he fell off the coffee table. I did mostly manage to keep him from hitting his head on the hardwood floor. To be on the safe side, I asked Andy to give Charlie his bath last night, because the inevitable catch of the slipping toddler who doesn’t listen to my commands of “No crazy-legs in the tub!” would have been an issue. Andy and I got Charlie in his jammies together, and then I laid down and Andy delivered Charlie to me to nurse to sleep, so that I didn’t have to do much lifting or bending. I took some Advil and had some wine, and when I woke up, I felt like my self-care combined with asking for help when I needed it had won the day. And then I leapt out of bed and after Charlie to close the bathroom door and the baby gate, lest Charlie beat me to either one and manage to fall down the stairs while drinking out of a bottle of bleach. As soon as my feet hit the floor: NOPE. Nope nope nope nope nope. Nope.
I did beat Charlie to the bathroom door, and Andy had already closed the baby gate. I am home from work, because my back is not participating in my life today. I’m very glad that I have live-in child-care in the form of Andy’s dad, because I would not have been able to get Charlie dressed and out the door if I had to take him to a daycare provider. Then, in between when Andy left for work and when his dad took over, Charlie fell off the nightstand, which yes, he was standing on, because that’s his whole thing. I caught him, because that’s my whole thing. (I initially thought my thing was to keep him from getting on top of the night stand to begin with, but that’s easier said than done. We’re working on it.) Catching him hurt. Now I’m in bed. I intend to stay here, except for when stretching or lying on the floor seems like a better course of action.
This is the part of having a kid I was worried about. When Charlie was an itty-bitty baby, except for when I was in early C-section recovery, there weren’t a lot of acrobatics or feats of strength involved in his care. When feats of strength did come into play, my challenge was in having the correct posture for slow, deliberate actions: Laying him in his crib, picking him up off the floor, carrying him in his carrier (which I did as seldom as possible, because shit, those things are heavy when they’re filled with baby), cleaning up baby barf, picking chokable items off the floor. That style of care was challenging, but manageable. Now Charlie has the strength and speed of a tornado, but with half the judgement. Because my medical conditions are all basically managed, I haven’t really missed work for them this decade, apart from scheduled doctor’s appointments and physical therapy to keep things managed. But I’ve been catching a lot of falling objects lately. Actually, just one falling object: my 26-pound toddler. Over and over again.
I would like a body that’s more participatory, but this is the one I’ve got until science allows me to have my brain transported into a mechanical suit, like Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m glad I have help. I need it.