Friday, December 7, 2012

Baby Got Back... Issues

This week has been rough. I "threw my back out" last week, and spent a couple of days in bed, then took it easy, only walking every other day this week. Despite that, I had logged three miles by Wednesday, with plans to do two miles today. My back was doing better, although it was still somewhat stiff and sore, and I was being careful about twisting and bending. Despite my efforts, this morning I somehow managed to pull something on the lower left side of my back, when I merely turned slightly toward my daughter when she said something. Most of today has been spent on the couch with a heating pad and plenty of anti-inflammatory meds. Whatever it is that I pulled or tweaked hurts pretty bad, and the pain is radiating down into my left hip and leg. Needless to say, I didn't get my walk in. I'm hoping I'll feel better tomorrow and can take at least a short walk, but if I need to take it easy again, I will.

I originally hurt my back in 2006, when I worked at the Humane Society of Missouri. I was tending to a 100 pound, very excited Lab, and he bolted away. Unfortunately, the leash was wrapped around my arm and my upper body was wrenched to the left side when the dog jumped, and something popped inside. I hit the floor and it took quite a while before I could get up, get the dog into the kennel, and get help. I was rushed to the ER by ambulance. I spent the day in the hospital, was diagnosed with an acute bulging disc, lumbar spine inflammation, and muscle contusions. I had to take several days off work. I spent several weeks in physical therapy and the "acute bulging disc" became a chronic issue. I was in horrible pain for a long time, had trouble getting around, and lived on muscle relaxers and painkillers for weeks. Although I did get better, I often had flare ups, where the disc would bulge to the point where it compressed my sciatic nerve and the most awful pain would shoot down my hip and into my leg. I eventually had to leave the job I loved and ever since, have had reoccurring issues. I have a permanent backache that never goes away. I have days where I can't even get out of bed, when the disc bulges out and causes sciatica. I have moments where I'll get a random shooting pain up my spine and it takes my breath away. Most of the time, I merely have minor low back pain, although most of the time I can deal with the low levels.

Over the past few months, I had been getting stronger through fitness. My doctor had warned me against doing any sit ups or crunches, or any kind of strenuous exercise that might bother the already irritated disc. I try to sit with a pillow behind my lower back at all times, try to sit and stand up straight, and watch how I bend and twist. The slightest thing can set it off, and it often takes a while for the inflammation to go down.

The most frustrating thing about having health issues, is that I can't just jump up and go work out. I have to get up in the mornings and see how I feel. If my back isn't too sore, if my fibromyalgia symptoms aren't flaring up, if my SAD isn't at a worrisome level, etc, etc, etc. For the past week I've had to dial back my workouts, I haven't been to the gym at all, and my walks have been shorter. Now, with the pain in my hip and back that's flared up today, I may not be able to do much for two or three MORE days.

When I get upset (or bored from sitting and staring at the tv), the first thing I want to do is eat. Being an emotional overeater, those old habits are just below the surface, waiting to bubble up through the slightest crack in my new way of living. Although I haven't done terribly today calorie-wise I did eat more junk than real food, and my stomach is definitely letting me know it's not happy. I'm trying hard not to fall into self-pity and start chowing like a hog at a trough, but it's been tough this week, and especially today. I've been reading a lot (especially fitness blogs for inspiration!) and checking for alternative types of exercise I can do even while slightly incapacitated.

I found a fantastic chair exercise and light exercise guide at the National Institute on Aging. Yes, these were designed with older adults in mind, but I think anyone who has a disability or illness could use some of these to try and stay active. While I'm taking it easy and resting my back, I can still do some of these to get some exercise for the next couple of days. I'm going to try my best to stay mentally strong until I can get back to my normal routine.

On a more positive note, we have everything pretty much ready for my niece's baby! The nursery has been mostly ready for almost two months now, but we hadn't gotten a crib or a changing table yet. We already have a bassinet, however, so we weren't too worried if we didn't get those two pieces before baby Hunter gets here. I recently found a changing table outside by the dumpster. Except for being dusty, it was in perfect shape. All the shelves were still there, all the screws nice and tight, the straps attached, and the pad was in good shape. It looked like it had probably been sitting in someone's storage and they had simply carried it out to the dumpster. My husband carried it in, we scrubbed it down with  Dr. Bronner's Soap to clean it, then wiped it with a diluted bleach solution to sterilize it. It now has a loving home in baby Hunter's room, with a fresh pillow case over the pad and stacked with supplies.

My niece has a college professor who also owns a daycare. Her professor was selling some of the compact cribs she no longer needed, so now we have a crib for the baby once he outgrows the bassinet. A nice stroke of luck is that it's the same light wood as the changing table, so they look like a matched set. Right now the crib is being used as extra storage for blankets, since baby Hunter will be sleeping in the bassinet for at least two months.

We don't have a dishwasher, so I showed my niece how we sterilized bottles in the "old days", back when my kids were babies: we boiled them on top of the stove. Since she's going to be breastfeeding, we don't need many bottles, just a few to get us through when she's at school for a few hours. Two large pots did the job. I also sterilized the bottle brush, the lids, and all the nipples and pacifiers.

We finally got all the blankets, newborn and 0-3 month sized clothing, and other odds and ends washed, organized, and folded into the dresser this past week. My niece said she didn't know how she was going to use all of the little socks and onesies, and I assured her that she was going to use more than she could even imagine!

The last thing we're still waiting for is the carseat. I won a Graco Click Connect at a mommy-blogging event back in October, and we still haven't received it. However, I contacted the blogger who ran the event, who found out that the company is supposed to be shipping the carseats in mid-December. We're all holding our breaths hoping that it gets here before baby Hunter! My niece isn't due until January 3, but he could decide to show up anytime, as he's in the right position and mom has started to dilate slightly. We did speak to our neighbor who had a baby a few months ago, and if baby Hunter shows up early, we can borrow her carseat to bring him home in. 

I think we're pretty well set for the new baby. Of course, once he gets home there will inevitably be something we need that we don't have, but overall, I think we'll be okay. We have more for baby Hunter than I did when I had my first child. A former co-worker of mine, who's son is almost one, had a ton of clothes, a baby warmer, and some baby toys, and she offered me the lot for a good price, so now we also have clothes to get the baby through late spring or early summer. All of those are packed in a plastic tote stored in the corner of the nursery (creating a shelf for the sock monkey collection I donated to the baby).

Now, the hardest part comes... waiting for my niece to go into labor and then helping her through it. I never had labor pains, both of my children were C-Sections. I've don't have brothers or sisters, and have never had a close female friend of childbearing age to invite me into the birthing room, so I honestly have no idea what to expect, other than what I've seen on those birthing shows they air on TLC. I hope she has an easy labor and baby Hunter shows up quickly. I'm hoping there aren't any complications and my niece and great-nephew come through labor healthy. 

Luckily, I won't be alone in helping my niece through this. My daughter will be there as will my niece's mom. Hopefully we all get through it okay and afterward we'll have our reward... a healthy happy baby to love!

Have you helped someone through labor? What tips do you have? Any advice appreciated! 


  1. I hope you're feeling better soon and back on track! Really lame pun :)

    It's so much fun setting up for a new baby :)

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