Now I don’t mean child birth…
I mean actually physical agony of having, holding, feeding, carrying, hugging and caring for a baby!
Eh… what on earth do I mean… surely that’s the nice bit??
Well after you’ve spent 9 months getting bigger, heavier and generally less fit (don’t even mention relaxin to me!)… You’ve been through the challenges of labour (some more extreme than others)… and now you’ve got a tiny helpless being to look after…
and… it hurts!
I have, on several occasions over the last three months, been reduced to expletives… ante-natal pilates… relaxing swims and massages…
Hell no… I needed bootcamp!
You’ve got to be able to bench press a 3-4 kg squirmy, slippery mass for up to about 20 hours a day with no sleep and barely any nutrition! In our first week we lived on left over cakes from the baby shower (p.s. don’t have it at 38 weeks or you’ll meltdown with stress!) at 3am in the morning.
By 10 days I was a crippled mess. I couldn’t even hold my little girl never mind change a nappy or do up those bloody poppers on the back (why the sodding back?!) of tops. Crisis point reached… time for the cavalry. Hubby took extra time off work and my mum came running to my sobs of pain, anxiety and frustration.
So what happened?
“Mummy thumb” happened… otherwise, medically, known as “De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis”. A repetitive strain injury of the thumb tendons caused by over use of an extended thumb – that classic L shape you use for everything baby related!
Apparently it’s really common… 50% of new mums (and some dads too) get it… SO WHY THE FUCK IS THIS THE FIRST TIME I’M FINDING OUT ABOUT IT??!
I’ve had DQT before as a student and as a musician. It sucks. It makes simple things like brushing teeth, holding cutlery or using a pen impossible. But it’s a “self-limiting” condition… (said the very irritating male physio)… just stop doing anything that makes it hurt and rest… oh and make sure you sleep well as that can have a huge impact…
Um… I’m a new mum. I can’t stop caring for my baby!!
I’m also breastfeeding so can’t take anti-inflammatories. I can’t and won’t just “give up and put my baby on formula” – as suggested by the male emergency gp! Luckily I’m stubborn.
What would have been nice was a hint, a slip of advice in any of those “parenting” classes I went to… if this is such a common thing… why has it not been mentioned? Why do so many new parents suffer (and by the by: take up precious NHS resources and time) when it could have been avoided?
Caught early, at the twingy/achey phase, this condition is so much easier to treat and even easier to prevent. Tips on how to safely hold and feed your baby, an icing regime if it starts to hurt, and a simple “changing mat” stretching routine (for mum!) would make a huge difference. I’m sure 100% of new parents would benefit from such simple and quick advice. I’ve spoken with so many others who have been on the way to a full blown episode like me.
I ended up with both wrists immobilised in splints for weeks, plus a steroid injection in the left one to try to clear the inflammation. 15 weeks after the arrival of my little one I’m finally getting to the point where I can manage. I’ve started being able to go to fun sensory classes, I can leave the house and go shopping without needing help, I am feeling so much happier (things got dark a few times) about being a mum to the most amazing and gorgeous little girl.
And what pisses me off the most? I didn’t need to suffer. I didn’t need to spend the first months of being a mum in agony and upset. It could have all been avoided!
When I get a moment… I feel strongly about getting the soap box out and trying to campaign for “mummy thumb” awareness so that others don’t have to suffer too. For now, I’m enjoying being able to look after my baby.