I have been blessed to birth three beautiful babies. They are turning out to be wonderful little people. I love them like I’ve never loved anything before. Their energy, passion and enthusiasm for life help to keep me young at heart. Their inquisitive, constantly curious natures help keep my mind sharp. My body, on the other hand, has decided to act like an 80-year-old woman.
Every mother certainly understands the toll that childbirth takes on our bodies. After my first son was born, and the swelling in my legs and feet had subsided, I was surprised when none of my shoes would fit. Apparently, it’s quite common for women to go up an entire shoe size after having children. And I certainly was dismayed to look in the mirror, after having my second son, to see gray hairs peeking through my usually vibrant brunette locks. And speaking of hair, after having my third child, I was especially confused when my usually extra dry hair became constantly greasy and falling out in clumps! Dry shampoo and coconut oil have become my new best friends.
But I’m not talking about those kinds of changes. Those changes are certainly annoying, and sometimes concerning, but they’re minor. I’m talking about the kind of changes that require an HMO referral from your primary care physician.
In the seven months since having my third baby, I have experienced body aches, pains and issues that I didn’t think I’d be dealing with until at least after menopause. You’ve heard of the straw that broke the camel’s back? Well my daughter was the baby that broke the mama’s back. I suppose I can’t blame everything on her though, or even her two older brothers. Perhaps it’s the fact I’m now over 35 years old. Or that I endured a year of hormonal changes during fertility treatments. Or that I’m just whinier? But whatever the reason, I now have multiple health issues that have literally surfaced since giving birth to my third baby. For instance, I now have allergies. I’ve never had allergies before, but they were so bad this Spring that I couldn’t even go outside. I didn’t sleep because of the coughing, congestion, headaches and swollen itchy eyes. I got allergy testing done and apparently am allergic to tons of trees and even cats! I wasn’t allergic to cats before I had my babies.
I also take a good five minutes to get out of bed in the morning because of lower back and hip pain. I honestly look like a little old lady, hunched over, hobbling to the bathroom in the morning. I’ve had back pain with every pregnancy, but after my daughter was born, I almost paralyzed myself from nursing her at night in our bed. I ended up bringing a chair in to our bedroom so I could have better back support. But even now, months later, I’m still dealing with it. I’ve tried all kinds of stretching, yoga poses, and massage to alleviate the pain. I am now moving on to physical therapy. I’m also looking into a chiropractor for my hips, as other moms have shared with me how childbirth can cause misalignment in your hips. My hips were totally aligned before I had my babies.
In addition to my shoe size changing, I also now have horrible pain in the arches of my feet. I wear good shoes with great arch support, so I was confused why my feet have been hurting. I did some research and come to find out, a lot of women suffer from fallen arches or plantar fasciitis after pregnancy. Our poor feet go through a major strain during pregnancy. For instance, the hormone called relaxin, which is what loosens the pelvic ligaments for childbirth, can also affect the ligaments in our feet that support the arches. Or sometimes the tissue in the bottom of our feet gets inflamed or tears during pregnancy, which can result in plantar fasciitis. Guess the next referral I’ll be getting is for a podiatrist. My feet weren’t broken before I had my babies.
My body may have aged exponentially after this third baby, but every ache, pain, and gray hair is completely worth it to have these three amazing children in my life. They may just have to carry me everywhere by the time I’m 40.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, has two sons, and baby daughter. Click here to read more of her Mommy Daze blogs.