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When the Anesthesiologist Said He Was Sorry I Was Going to Be a Mom With Chronic Pain

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My baby is almost 2 months old now, and I still remember one thing the anesthesiologist in the hospital told me — because it shocked me, but more because it came true. He came into my hospital room to administer the epidural and started the conversation as he prepared his supplies with the usual questions: “Is it a boy or a girl?” “What’s her name?” “Oh, we have a nurse here named Heidi!” etc.

Then the conversation become more unique: “What’s the cane for?” I told him I didn’t have a diagnosis, but along with my chronic pain, sometimes my legs (and all the rest of me) just give out, and I didn’t appreciate falling over in public. It’s too dramatic for my taste and was beyond embarrassing when it did happen.

“Have you seen a doctor for it?” I had, but by that time, I was already pregnant, so the doctor dismissed me as a hysterical pregnant lady who whined too much about typical pregnancy pains (though I told the doctor that the pains started two years ago and the weakness began several months before I got pregnant). The anesthesiologist told me that as soon as I have my baby I should go back to a doctor to get it figured out, because to him it sounded a lot like multiple sclerosis (which I had been told by many people who knew others with the disease).

After a little while of amusing conversation in his attempt to calm me before the placement of the enormous needle into my spine (and multiple occasions of him calling my baby Heidi Elissa for no reason), he brought it up again: “I’m really sorry that you have such trouble with your muscles — and you’re about to have to take care of a baby. That’ll make it really hard.” I already had that exact fear, which my husband told me confidently I would be able to handle. But hearing from a professional what I interpreted as his belief that I wouldn’t do so well as a mom, my simple fear became absolute terror, and I lost all hope for a few weeks of being a good mother (which ultimately became postpartum psychosis, but that’s another story you can read here.)

His prediction of a difficult motherhood came true almost immediately. The first few days after my stay in the hospital, I was just too happy and exhausted to focus on any pain I felt. I pushed through it with little effort, though my husband was the designated downstairs-carrier of our baby in case my legs or arms gave way to the seven-pound, seven-ounce weight. My wrist braces that I wore frequently for the past two years were inconvenient to use while taking care of a baby, and the pain in my wrists now rarely leaves me.

My husband’s prediction, however, also came true: I can handle it — with his help, of course. After a few weeks, I had grown to love my baby, and that feeling overpowers any feeling I could experience in my body. I definitely would not be able to handle this situation without my husband and his family, but I can most certainly manage the situation as it is presented to me.

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Originally published: November 25, 2016
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