I thought I was skating through this pregnancy. It seemed so easy compared to the first time. Mayhaps because I knew what to expect? Nonetheless, it felt easier. Less stressful.
I was duped. My body was playing a trick on me. It pulled out its trump card: sciatica. Biology lesson: The bigger the baby gets (ie. the longer you’re pregnant), the more the uterus expands. This expansion means more pressure is put on your body: Your legs have to carry more weight, etc. It also puts more pressure on your muscles and can push on nerves, such as the sciatic nerve that goes from about mid-butt cheek all the way down your legs.
At first, it was just lower back pain. Then I started to have problems getting up from playing with Sean on the floor. Hubbs would laugh at me when I would by stumped as to how to haul my cookies upright. Then the pain really started: I’d sit down for awhile, only to have searing pain shoot from ze butt cheek all the way down the back of my knees. It was paralyzing. The only way I can describe it is that lightning hit that nerve and it reverberated all the way down my leg and back up again in a never-ending circuit of torturous pain.
I’ve been going to physical therapy for it, which seems to be helping in the preventative sense: The stretching exercises seem to lengthen the time between painful episodes. But when the pain starts? Stretches aren’t so helpful.
For example, I was jolted awake around 4 a.m. Sunday morning by blinding pain. I had that paralyzing tingling feeling going up and down both my legs and I couldn’t move them. My lower body was paralyzed. And on fire. I managed to slowly wiggle my right foot until the pain eased up, even though it was still tingling (Think charlie horse-type pain). It took me five minutes. I timed it. Five gasping, desperate, sheet-clenching, near-panicked minutes. But for the life of me, I couldn’t move my left foot. The pain was bordering on unbearable when Hubbs woke up and heard my near hyperventilation. He rubbed my leg, gently massaging the tense muscle until I could move my foot again and the pain subsided to a bearable throb. Then he woke up with Sean and let me sleep in an extra hour later that morning.
The man is a saint.
Part of my physical therapy sessions include stretching, learning new stretches, and massages with heating pads applied afterward. I usually look forward to the massage the most. It helps loosen the muscle. So far, I had always worked with a woman, who was great and never pushed too hard. Well, tonight, I got a guy. And after evaluating my muscles, he decided I needed a deep-tissue massage. Check that. He decided my ass needed a deep-tissue massage, because that’s where the muscles were the tightest.
Apparently, I have a tight ass. (har-har)
Disclaimer: Maybe it wasn’t a deep-tissue massage. Maybe he was just massaging the area around the sciatic nerve really hard. Whatever the hell he did, it hurt. A lot. I was sucking in big gasps of air, and nearly jumped off the table several times. He’d dig a knuckle into the flesh and I’d be squirming and tensing and resisting the urge to clock him. I lost count how many times I said “ouch/ow/gaaa!”
But do I feel better now? Hours later? Yes, I do — although I can already feel my muscles starting to tighten again. Do I want that kind of massage again? I’m not sure. That kind of pain should come with a complimentary drink.