I started writing this just before I got sick with the viral infection in my brain, so the wording in some of the parts is a few weeks outdated now, but I still wanted to post it. I am doing much better, and continuing to make improvements each week!
My recovery process from my Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction has been much longer than I had anticipated. We thought that once the baby was out and no longer putting pressure on my bones and damaged ligaments that the pain would go away. Unfortunately that was not the case. One doctor told me that the pain would go away at the six week postpartum mark, once the majority of the pregnancy hormones had left my system. That was not the case either. Some nurses told me about other patients who had to have surgery to stabilize their bones postpartum, with a nine month recovery period after the surgery. The last thing I wanted to do was to go through another surgery. I have been determined like crazy to heal my body naturally, with hard work, discipline and determination (and a whole lot of prayers!).
Just around the six week postpartum mark, I had an accident with a wet tile floor that made me slip pretty badly. Ironically, the slip seemed to jar my bones back into the proper position and I was able to walk much better from that point forward. It was really at that point where I started to be able to work even harder on my recovery. I have been going to physical therapy weekly, and doing my physical therapy exercises at home religiously, some of them even three times a day. It is difficult to fit it in while taking care of the baby and everything else going on around here, but I make sure that I make time for it every day.
After that six week slip, I was able to walk without being in excruciating pain. I started going on daily walks to help rebuild my strength. At first all I could manage was about half a block and back, but it started getting easier and easier. Some days I even try to get in two walks, one during the day with the baby in the stroller, and one in the evening once my husband gets home (that way he can bring the dogs too!). We live in a neighborhood with some pretty steep hills, and some days those hills are a huge challenge, especially while pushing the stroller. Going for a walk may not sound like much of a workout, but when you have literally been laid up in bed for just short of a year, going on a walk feels like a huge accomplishment.
I am just recently starting to feel comfortable to drive again. Before recently, when I tried pushing down on the gas or brake pedal with my right foot, it felt like a sharp knife was going through my upper thigh into my pelvic bone. I was very anxious to regain a bit of personal freedom again (and go anywhere other than our house during the day), but had to keep it limited to just places just in walking distance…which is really only the corner market. However, those trips to the market were very exciting since they were the first step toward me no longer feeling like I was handicapped!
Now, I am having good days and bad days in terms of the pain levels. Some days I feel relatively pain free and am able to drive and have even run a few errands on my own with the baby. Other days, my leg still hurts too bad. I am trying to play it by ear each day and not push myself when my pain is too bad.
A few weeks ago, I asked my physical therapist about the big huge gap between my abdominal muscles. I thought perhaps this was normal after having a c-section. She informed me that it was not from the c-section, but was usually caused by being pregnant with a larger baby, and is called a Diastasis Recti. The connective tissues holding the abdominal wall together basically tore apart, leaving me with very little support for my back or my intestines. Luckily, the exercises I have been doing to repair the Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction should also help slowly repair the Diastasis Recti as well.
Last week I had a substitute physical therapist who progressed my normal exercises to the point where I felt unstable and wobbly. The next day, I was in excruciating pain again, and was miserable for most of the past week. I thought maybe I had just overdone things at my appointment or on one of my walks and kept waiting all week for the pain to get better. When I met with my normal physical therapist yesterday, she noticed that my pelvic bones were completely out of alignment again. It was pretty discouraging because I had hoped that my muscles were getting strong enough to prevent that from happening again. I had to go back to the types of treatments she did in the very beginning (i.e. no working out or exercises, just alignments, tissue work and laser therapy). I am hoping this is just a temporary setback and I will be back to where I was before last week soon.
I have worked so hard on my recovery and am very proud of all of the sacrifices I have made to regain my strength so I am able to take care of this big baby boy. I am also really proud of the dietary sacrifices I have made so that he is feeling healthy and free of food allergic reactions. It breaks my heart to see his little face in pain when I have eaten something that gives him an allergic reaction, and I will do anything I can to try to make sure that does not happen to him. Since he is only fed breastmilk, everything I eat goes straight to him. I have had to cut out dairy, soy, and wheat to keep him happy and healthy.
I remember one particular day, early in my pregnancy where I was talking to a lady I met at the grocery store about being pregnant. She recommended to me that after I had the baby, I should try cutting out dairy and wheat in order to loose the pregnancy weight. At the time, I was having a hard time gaining ENOUGH weight in my pregnancy, so I was a little offended. I politely replied to her that since I have food allergies, I already always feel restricted with what I can eat, and I don’t like to restrict myself any further. I have heard people recommend paleo diets for weight loss, cutting out dairy and wheat to clear up your skin, etc. I had tried it in the past to help clear up my skin, but when I was doing it for my own motivations, I only lasted about two days. I love dairy too much to give it up for my own vanity reasons. I always used to console myself that my food allergies weren’t so bad (egg, chicken and red food dye) because it could be worse: I could be allergic to dairy like my dad. However, as soon as I suspected that my baby was reacting to dairy, I gave it up completely without ever thinking twice. My former “colicky” baby is now as happy and healthy as can be.
By my third trimester, I was no longer in the situation where I was not gaining enough weight. The combination of complete, strict bed rest (not even sitting up to watch TV on the couch) and the hormone supplements that I started taking really started to make me gain weight quickly. I definitely caught up with where I was supposed to be and then some. By the end of the pregnancy, I had gained a whopping total of 45 pounds. I literally gained nearly 50% of my starting body weight. It is no wonder my bones had a hard time carrying everything around! While a little over 9 pounds of that was the baby, that still left a whole lot of weight afterward that I was not used to carrying around. Many people say that when you are exclusively breastfeeding, the weight will just come off without doing anything. That may be true for some people, but that definitely was not the case for me! By the six week mark, my weight still had not budged, but I was not overly concerned about it.
Throughout my life since puberty, I have experienced two different extremes when it comes to managing my weight. One is the experience that I have when my hormonal imbalance is uncorrected: no matter what I have done in the past, if I am not on my medication to level out my hormones, it is literally almost impossible for me to lose weight. No amount of dieting or exercise will usually help me when my hormones are in their natural state. Whatever weight I gain during those periods tends to stay around until I correct my hormones. The other experience is when my hormones are being corrected by medications: this is when my “normal” metabolism kicks in, the one I knew and loved growing up pre-puberty. I can eat a lot and not usually gain weight, and if I do, it is very easy for me to loose the weight.
Since I cannot take my medicine to correct my hormonal imbalance while breastfeeding, I had accepted the idea that I would probably be stuck with an extra 20-30 pounds until I finished breastfeeding. It was not ideal since the extra weight was putting an extra strain on my slowly healing body, but it was not the end of the world. I know that I have reached a point where I am comfortable with myself regardless of what my weight reads, and my husband loves me no matter what I look like on the outside. I gave up thinking about it, and just focused on healing my body.
In addition to my daily exercise routine, I started making fresh vegetable/fruit juice in the morning. I have read that juicing can help your body heal by giving a direct shot of nutrients, especially when taken on an empty stomach, and with the fiber removed (which slows down digestion). It also helps with your energy levels, which is great since I used to be a huge caffeine addict and gave it up after all of my heart problems during my pregnancy. I also started making some green smoothies every day to get even more nutrients and fiber. My diet now consists mostly of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, lean meats, seafood, nuts, and whole grain rice. I have found some gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free bread products, and eat them on occasion. However, they are not a part of my daily diet since to be honest, they aren’t always the tastiest things in the world! I make big batches of homemade soup filled with tons of veggies and beans and snack on that throughout the day. I also snack on raw fruits and veggies, as well as things like homemade kale chips and my homemade protein bars. It is amazing how much energy I have now, even though many days I am completely sleep deprived. My skin has also completely cleared up for the first time since junior high!
Without even worrying about it, I started to notice that the pregnancy weight was rapidly disappearing. Between the regular daily exercise, the physical therapy strength training exercises, and completely revamping my diet for this little guy, the weight started going away. I really did not think that would happen with my hormonal imbalance! By the three month mark, I noticed that I was back at my pre-Edison weight! This statement comes with a big huge disclaimer. I do not say this to try to brag at all. I am just honestly so surprised and wanted to share my results with others since I figured my weight loss would be impossible with my hormonal imbalance. It is amazing what things like eating a simple, clean diet can do. I never cut back how much I was eating or paid any attention to counting calories or watching how much fat I was eating. I ate plenty of healthy fats from foods like avocados, almond butter and coconut oil to keep myself full and satisfied. The best part is that since I made the food sacrifices for our baby, I never felt like I was being deprived at all! I also had some extra lingering weight from my pregnancies before Edison, and I realized recently that I am now back to my weight that I was at before all of my pregnancies!
Here is a sneak peek of how our fridge looks on a normal day with my new diet. We really could use more than two crisper drawers. We also need to get our vegetable garden going again a.s.a.p.!