My first trimester was predictably nauseating–no surprises there. But I can tell you the exact moment that things took a turn for the worse. I was 14 weeks along and the nausea had only recently subsided. My husband and I were watching the Saints game at a friend’s house and I just could not get comfortable. There was this pain in my lower back, right at the bottom of my ribs on the right side. It felt like someone pinching me hard from the inside. There was no space in a living room full of people for me to lie down; and I am pathologically unable to ask for help, so the only way for me to get even remotely comfortable was by standing with my hand pushed firmly against that spot on my back, trying to act like nothing was wrong. I stayed that way until halftime, when I told Nick that I needed to go home and lie down.
If I close my eyes I can still remember exactly what it felt like. I felt that same pain every day for the next six months. I tried pain medicine. I tried seeing a chiropractor. I tried physical therapy. I even wore a rib belt under my clothes every day. Each of these things helped a little, but none were enough to make it bearable. There were days that I cried on my way home from work because it just hurt so badly. Nobody really knew why I was in such pain; and I don’t think anyone, even my husband, truly understood. The experience gave me endless empathy for anyone coping with chronic pain. That said, there were two things that helped me:
Guided meditation: I downloaded a guided meditation track from iTunes and listened to it daily. It was so relaxing that I even fell asleep to it sometimes! The one that I used was specifically targeted toward pregnant women, but there’s another one on Amazon with great reviews that’s designed for pain relief. (the pregnancy one is also available on Amazon)
Rest: The only time I was ever comfortable was when I was lying down. When I was 36 weeks pregnant, I finally cried “uncle” and made a claim against the short term disability insurance that I’d been saving for my maternity leave. It was well worth it, because once I was able to spend most of the day lying down, I felt SO much better.
If you’re reading this and thinking that you can relate, the biggest thing I want you to know is that you’re not alone. My pregnancy was miserable in a million ways: I was in pain, I lost consciousness in various unflattering situations (think: in line at the store, in a work meeting, etc.), I was so big I thought my skin would rip open, I was weak and tired and my feet were so sore each evening that I felt like I’d spent the whole day tailgating for an LSU game in a pair of flip flops. It got better. My beautiful son was born and the world changed to include a new array of wonders and challenges. I will never forget the way I felt those six months, but I am so glad it’s over. If you’ve experienced something similar I’d love to hear from you in the comments. It is so helpful just to know that you’re not the only one!