I am 22 weeks pregnant and the bump is a-growing! I think it is definitely more bump than plump now, finally, thank goodness! I am also feeling lots and lots of lovely kicks, so our little girl is very much making her presence her known. The downside is that as my bump grows, my SPD seems to be getting a bit worse :(.
Feeling the Support
After an insanely busy week last week, this week has been much calmer, and thank goodness as I really needed it to be. There has been lots more positivity this week too so that was nearly my Word of the Week, but instead I have gone for “Support” and I will tell you why.
Regular readers will know about the ups and downs I have had with my pelvis so far in this pregnancy, and I have basically been in a lot of pain due to a lack of support in that region. But on Monday morning I met my new physio who was wonderful and positive and supportive and she has made the world of difference already. I won’t go into too much detail here, but I have written more about it in my week 10 update, if you would like to read more.
One thing I will mention though is that I now have a rather fetching support brace, which is MUCH better than anything I have had before, in that it actually supports my pelvis. It’s not a miracle cure of course and the pain isn’t miraculously gone, but I have felt able to do more with Monkey this week. I haven’t been shying away from walks to the park for fear of the pain I would be in. I have been able to wear the support and have it take some of the strain for me and allow me to be more of the Mum I want to be. Yay!
The other reason I have chosen the word support is because my friends have been so supportive of me lately too, and I feel very very lucky to have such lovely supportive friends. They are a relatively new group of friends, we all met working in the same office and we have really got close since we all had children fairly close in age. I popped round to see one of them for a play date last Friday and I was feeling particularly low. I was in a lot of pain and was so tired after a busy week, but I needed to get out of the house with Monkey.
One thing I always worry about is being that annoying person who is constantly moaning. Growing up my Dad used to moan about his back allll the time, to everyone, and I would see people’s eyes glaze over as he banged on and on about it without ever asking anyone else how they were. I would never want to be thought of the way that I know he was. But it’s a balance because I don’t want to be a martyr either and not tell people who are close to me when I am suffering.
So I was at my friend’s and she knew bits of what was going on, but not all and she wanted to know how I was. I still held back a little though and at one point apologised to her for being such a moaning minnie. She looked at me and said “Seriously Caroline, You don’t have to be happy all the time. This is rubbish and you’re allowed to be miserable, and I want to know how you really are!” I think I cried a little (I blame pregnancy hormones) and spilled. And you know what, I felt so much better for it. I worry too much sometimes and need to trust people more.
As a group we went out for dinner on Tuesday and had a lovely time (even though our food took nearly and hour and a half and we didn’t get to eat until 9pm! Shocking service!) and again just felt really lucky to have a great group of friends and they were all so happy for me that the physio went well on Monday. There was lots of fun and giggles all evening and it was just lovely.
My husband and our families have been so supportive too and been rallying around to play with Monkey and get some of the housework done that I can no longer do, and overall I am just feeling like the pressure has lifted. The combination of being able to physically do a bit more because of my support belt, and feeling supported by friends and family has made for a much nicer week.
I think the fact that the week has been calmer and full of early nights has really helped too though! So there we have it, my word of the week is “Support.” What’s yours?
My pregnancy, week 10 – symptoms are improving!
I am now 10 1/2 weeks pregnant (eek, I think the baby is now officially a fetus, and is about the size of a prune!) Sickness has abated very nicely and with getting a few early nights lately I am feeling a bit less tired. A quieter week than last week is definitely helping on that front too! I’m getting a bit of heartburn now though so am relying on gaviscon a lot at the moment, which does help, so we will see how that goes.
The only thing that is draining the joy out of this pregnancy now the sickness is fading, is my Pelvis and PGP/SPD issues. Regular readers will know this already, but if not, the hormone relaxin, which is essential during pregnancy to allow your body to make room for your baby, isn’t kind to some of us, and makes our pelvis relax too far, meaning it is less stable and moves around more. This in turn causes friction and irritation on the joints of the pelvis, and anything from a little, to a lot of pain. It generally comes on later in pregnancy but for some of us unlucky ones it springs up as early as the first trimester. I had it in late pregnancy last time, and this time it appeared at around 6 weeks :(.
There has been all sorts of ups and downs over the past month in regard to this but I am pleased to let you know I am in a very definite ‘up’ at the moment! After a lot of tears I managed to speak to the head women’s health Physio at the hospital last week and I saw her on Monday and she was just as lovely in person as she was over the phone!
The physio session itself was great, we talked a lot and she laid some of my fears to rest. Fear has played a big role in this pregnancy so far, as I know how painful it got last time, and how immobile I was. Information about the condition has also grown since last time. Last time I was warned that I could pull my pelvis apart because it was so unstable, and I was told not to swim, and my physio didn’t even want me climbing stairs. So I have been afraid this time and not known what to do, out of fear of doing permanent damage. The meeting with my new physio has helped set many of those fears to rest.
It is extremely rare to be able to pull your pelvis apart so the key, key thing is that if I cause myself pain, I am not actually causing myself any damage. My biggest fear was that I would damage my pelvis and that the pain would continue after the birth. It is possible that the pain will be there after birth, but it is unlikely, and I can’t pull my pelvis apart. She said that short of falling downstairs with one leg staying up, and the other going down (ouch!), it would be incredibly hard to damage your pelvis in that way. So that is a big relief! It obviously doesn’t mean that I can just carry on as normal, and pretend it’s not happening as it will get more painful. But at least I know if I do overdo it, it should only result in short term suffering.
There is also pain relief I can get! Woohoo! I mean there’s the obvious paracetamol but that just doesn’t really do anything for me, and aside from that it can be so hard to know what to take when you’re pregnant as you obviously don’t want to risk the baby. I am going to try and do without as much as possible, especially this early in the pregnancy, but it is great to know that if things get really bad, I can take some co-codamol – which I will need to get prescribed by my doctor.
She has also given me a proper support band. Basically my muscles in my bum should be strong enough to hold my pelvis in the right position, but apparently they aren’t, so wearing the support will do the job of holding my pelvis in place, meaning I can do more, while experiencing less pain. It’s quite tight (as you would expect) and not very comfortable when sitting – but it does mean I can carry on with going for walks with my neighbour every morning (which had been giving me a lot of pain) and I can take Monkey to the park without worrying about how painful it is going to be. I’ve only had it a couple of days but already it feels soo much better!
She also worked really hard on some of my muscles which were in spasm, it was incredibly painful but so so worth it. She has recommended heat packs, and I am kicking myself for not thinking about a heat pack earlier! I have a microwaveable wheat bag anyway and it is so handy for sore muscles, can’t believe I haven’t thought to use it! It will be in use a lot from now on though!
I’ve got a couple of very simple exercises to strengthen my bum muscles (sounds weird doesn’t it?) which should help without putting too much strain on my pelvis. So hopefully I can do those without too much pain, and they can help my body to support my pelvis a bit better.
She was so lovely too and we were chatting away throughout, and everything she said just made sense to me! So I feel much more relaxed and confident about it all now. I was reading something about PGP the other day, which said something that really struck home. It isn’t just the physical limitations of the condition that cause harm to women in pregnancy, but also the psychological effects. Pregnancy “should” be a joyful time, but when you’re in pain, it is incredibly hard to find that joy. You worry about being seen as constantly moaning, and you want to be able to just do the things you would normally do, but you can’t. It makes it incredibly difficult and because many people don’t know about the condition, it can be hard for them to understand what you are going through, and therefore very hard to explain.
Feeling more positive about the fact that I now have a physio who I believe can help me, and steps in place to improve things already, I feel like a bit of weight as lifted from my shoulders. I know that it isn’t a quick fix and I will continue to struggle with a lot of this, but a little bit of hope really goes a long way!
A Rollercoaster of Emotions, but a Glimmer of Hope
This week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. After a wonderful night in London on Monday, on Tuesday I was in a lot of pain, and shattered. But it was a busy day and I had what I thought was going to be a physio session at the hospital, so I was quite excited. My parents looked after Monkey and hubby came along to be my advocate. But we got there and unfortunately hubby wasn’t allowed in and it turned out to be a group session where they basically told us all the things we shouldn’t do, to manage our pain. No hoovering, no loading the washing machine, no washing up, no crossing your legs. Don’t do anything that causes you pain, keep your knees together at all times.
I could have screamed as I know all of this. All the other ladies were much further along in their pregnancies and for many it was the first time they had experienced pain. We had to describe our pain too and there was a real variety. I am not belittling anyone else’s pain because no-one can know what things feel like to different people, but it seemed like such an unspecific session as there was some ladies with a bit of lower back pain, one with what sounded like sciatica and a few of us with the real sharp pains at the front of the pelvis. All grouped under one session which seemed a bit generalised to me!
I understand why they do it, as I am sure for some ladies that would be enough, but having been through this once before, and with all my fears about the fact that it has started so early it felt like such a waste of time and I was miserable when I left. I’ve been given a tubi-grip support but been told it won’t help me now, though it will do later when I have a bump. And in the meantime???? It wasn’t a happy evening for me as I had been so hopeful and the letter from the hospital had been really misleading about what to expect, advising me to wear loose clothing so the therapist could examine me, when they never even got close enough to touch me, let alone examine me!
But, and there is a But, a positive one. We were given an SOS appt. Basically we are meant to follow these instructions for a few weeks and if we can’t manage then call back. Because I have been through this before I have been doing so many of the things they have described since I first felt pain at 6 wks pregnant. So I called them on Wednesday morning. The receptionist was very snooty (why are they like that sometimes?) and really didn’t want to listen to my explanation and just kept repeating, “you only came in Yesterday” and eventually said “Well I’ll pass a message to the physio to see what they want to do with you, because you only came in yesterday and they are very busy.” I felt gutted and was sure that I was going to be told to wait or something.
Not very positive yet is it? Well, then I got a phone call from the head Women’s Health Physio at the hospital, and she was LOVELY! So helpful and by the time I spoke to her I couldn’t stop crying, and you know what, she understood! I didn’t have to tell her how worried I was about it starting so early because she described my feelings exactly! She even understood how hard it must be with a toddler to look after.
She gave me a glimmer of hope that for some women it is at it’s worst in the first trimester because of the crazy rush of hormones, and that it may get better in the second trimester (please, please, please, please, please). But she also said that because it is so early SHE wants to see me personally, she doesn’t want anyone else to see me as she wants to make sure she does everything they can! Yay! She was very very kind and supportive and made me feel like what I am going through mattered, and that it was something she had helped other ladies through before. After feeling like I was basically being told to just lump it and get on with it, having someone agree that there is a problem, and actually offer to help, felt miraculous!
She started off saying that she is very busy and has a full diary so I was bracing myself for a long wait for an appt, but then she said she can do 8.30am on Monday! Wahoo! So watch this space and I really hope she can help me in a way other than telling me not to do anything that causes me pain for the next 7 mths, as that means basically lying down all day which is impossible with Monkey to look after!
I really hope I can stop boring everyone with posts about this soon, but I have to blog it out otherwise I would go mad!
Signs of SPD/PGP and Burying my head in the Sand
After announcing my pregnancy on Friday, and my ‘Back to the Beginning‘ post on Monday, this is another post about what has been happening so far – in an attempt to fully chart the progress of my pregnancy and get up to date!
I suffered quite badly with SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, also known as Pelvic Girdle Pain, or PGP) in my last pregnancy and ended up on crutches and I was pretty immobile. I was advised not to swim as my pelvis was too unstable and my physio was very concerned and wanted me to keep my knees together as much as possible at all times, even to the point where she recommended tying my knees together overnight! Try keeping your knees together for a few hours, it makes climbing stairs, getting in and out of cars, and even walking pretty tricky!
As I knew that it can recur with subsequent pregnancies I had been trying to prepare for this next pregnancy. To get my muscles strong so that it could be minimised, but, well, I have failed. I had been doing the exercises my previous physio gave me, and thought all was well. Then I fell pregnant. I carried on with the exercises but realised that I was now getting the pain in my pelvis. Sad face. So I stopped doing the exercises and the pain went away. Tried to do them again, and the pain came back. Not what I was expecting and definitely not what I was hoping for!
I figured maybe I was doing the exercises wrong or something, and one thing I learnt with SPD last time was that something is causing you pain, don’t do it! It’s not like other conditions where it gets worse before it gets better, or you can push through the pain.With SPD, it get’s worse, before it gets even worse! So I stopped the exercises. The pain stopped for the most part but still popped back intermittently which meant I was worried about what that meant for the rest of my pregnancy!
The physio I saw privately when I was pregnant before is on maternity leave so I can’t see her to ask for advice. I needed to find a new physio. I went to see a lovely physio at about 6 weeks pregnant, who filled me with confidence. She felt some of my previous exercises were quite hard and may put pressure on my pelvis, and basically confirmed that if they are causing the pain then I should definitely not do them. We did some very simple exercises and apparently my legs, back and even arms are all quite weak which is why my pelvis is under so much pressure (bonkers really).
The exercises were so simple they seemed daft but I could feel them working and was full of confidence when I left her. But, she said to me that if I was in pain the following day as a result of the exercises, that there may not be any exercises I can do to prevent it getting worse. The following day I was in huge amounts of pain and my spirits slumped. I went from feeling completely positive and optimistic to abject misery and negativity.
What I should have done, was call her and talk to her right away, but, I was afraid. Afraid of what she would say if those ridiculously simple exercises had caused me so much pain. Afraid that she may reiterate what she said before, that if they caused me so much pain, there may not be anything I can do to prevent it happening. So I haven’t. I have buried my head in the sand. I know it’s daft, I know it could be said I am being a martyr and making the problem worse by not getting help, but I don’t know what to to do for the best. Do I go back to her and see if she can do anything? Or do I try somewhere else? And if they can’t do anything, what then? I’m scared and so I am being daft and hiding from it. My head is firmly in the sand because I don’t know what the solution is.
I am writing this 2 weeks later, at 8 weeks pregnant. I have been in pain basically every day. It’s intermittent and some days are better than others. I have been trying to be more aware of how I sit, and stand and basically do everything, to try and put as little pressure on my pelvis as possible. But with a toddler, it’s nigh on impossible. How can I be the mum I want to be, when I can’t sit on the floor, I can’t kneel, I can’t carry him, I can’t bounce him on my knees, I can’t crawl around with him to play games? I’m struggling at his tumble tots class and don’t know how long I can carry on taking him. I hate it and feel really unhappy about it. The fact that it is so early in the pregnancy and that I can’t blog/talk about it makes it even harder.
I’m struggling with the housework as it is now hurting when I do the hoovering, and again, crawling around cleaning floors and bathrooms is painful. I know I should call her, or someone else but I still can’t bring myself to do it. I have my first midwife appointment this week so will go down the NHS referral line. Last time I didn’t suffer from the SPD until a lot later on in the pregnancy and by the time I got the appt at the hospital I was already booked in for a C section, so I cancelled. This time I may fight to get a cancellation appt or something to get in as early as possible. I’m not sure if they will be able to do anything else to help though. I just wish I knew what I could do.
I have been feeling really down about it and I know that to some extent it is my fault, for not getting my head out of the sand. But we have so much other stuff going on in our lives at the moment (with operation garden renovation, and all the dramas surrounding my flat and our tenants) that it is easy to push this to the back of the queue and get on with everything else. I have been in tears quite a few times with the pain (and hormones no doubt) and with having to ask hubby to do more about the house as I am already finding so much of it physically difficult. I am wearing support pants every day to hold myself together as clearly my muscles aren’t doing the job on their own. The pants help but aren’t exactly comfortable and I just worry they are masking the problem, and that they aren’t making things better in the long run.
I need to make a decision and go to the physio, or find a new one, but at least do something. Time to get my head OUT of the sand. I am not an Ostrich, and repeat!
The update to this post is that I did dig my head out of the sand and called the physio. Full credit to her for her honesty, she admitted defeat and confirmed what I had thought, which was that I needed to see someone with more specific experience with SPD/PGP. So the hunt is on for another physio… stay tuned!
Do you ever bury your head in the sand, or are you stronger than me and face your problems head on?