Saturday, 19 February 2011

Silence of the Sisterhood - part 16 - SPD


So, just to recap: the first 4 months of your pregnancy have been a miserable saga of vomit, exhaustion and migraines, a cocktail of depression so potent that the producers of EastEnders are begging you for the ingredients.  You have just been told that your daughter probably does not have Edwards Syndrome, but it will be another few weeks before they can be 99% sure.  You are finally back at work after 9 weeks’ absence, and you, yes you with your frighteningly positive attitude, are convinced that the remainder of your pregnancy will be a breeze because the first half was so appalling (interestingly, you tried to use the same logic with the first and second 30 years of your life and have not yet noticed the bollocks in it).

You accomplish about 2 weeks at work before it begins.  The joy of being the boss is that you can dictate your own hours and no one ever dares question whether you are working hard enough, but what they do notice is that you have started to walk slowly and to wince when you get up from your orthopaedic chair.

It starts as a really heavy pain on the right hand side of your pubic area, as if a bowling ball is pressing down on the right pubic bone.  All day long you are aware of a pressure, but it doesn’t make you vomit, and as this represents a significant step forward, you ignore the pain and plough on.

The pain doesn’t like to be ignored, so it steps things up a gear.  You are still delighted to be back at work (bless) but decide it wouldn’t hurt to spend tomorrow working from home.  Miraculously, a day’s rest and the pain vanishes – see what being a good girl can accomplish ?  You trill off to work and try not to ignore the steady encroaching gnaw of new pain – you will not be beaten by this pregnancy.  You have endured so much, isn’t it time it started to pay you back ?

Unfortunately, it misinterprets exactly what you mean by payback and the pain intensifies.  The midwife cheerily confirms that you have Symphysis Pubis Diastases and that there is no cure.  Your hormones are making the pubic bone separate in preparation for birth (steady on, we have 5 long months left yet) and the cartilage which joins the bones is no longer preventing them from rubbing together.  

You try to imagine what is going on inside you, and you imagine the bones creating so much friction that you could save a fortune in heating bills if the sympathetic boyfriend could just find a way to wire you up to an electricity generator.

The midwife cheerily tells you that you will have to put up with the pain and that you should keep your legs together as soon as possible (has she not seen my watermelon front?  Can she not tell that parting my legs would require traction the equivalent of the Giant Haystacks Tug O War Team ?  Apparently not.)   I am also to avoid as much bending and stretching as possible as this only makes things worse.  I wonder whether this will make the sympathetic boyfriend rueful of the tantrum he threw the night before when I asked him to pass me a book I was reluctant to reach for; no.

So I decide I will prevail.  I will accept assistance wherever possible, but I will still go to work; I can always work from home if I need to rest.  Then the second shoe falls off.  One day I lurch off the couch on my way to offload a thimble of urine, and I swear I feel a vertical tear, exactly where my pubic cartilage would be.  At the same time I know this is impossible.  At the same time I know this hurts like a bastard and that I am in trouble.
It becomes harder to manage the pain.  Again I am reluctant to reach for the painkillers, because I need to be aware of whether I have hurt myself rather than being numb to it.  I hope the pain will rein me in, but pretty soon my prevailing stubbornness has decided that as I am in pain whatever I do – however good or not I am – I may as well be a bad girl and do whatever the hell I like.

I try to work from home on alternate days, but one day’s rest no longer does the trick, and nothing seems to quell that sick friction I can feel as I walk.  The night is the worst time.  Naturally stiff from lying in the same position, I encounter trouble with my nightly urinal pilgrimages.   It is hard enough to roll out of bed when your middle has the flexibility and manoeuvrability of a watermelon, but rolling over with your legs clamped together without falling out of bed just sort of takes the piss a little.  It isn’t easy.  Worse, it is extremely painful (as well as ungraceful).  I hobble to the toilet, one halting step after another, lurching from wall to banister to give me some support – my own body having given up that ghost a while ago.

The needling vertical pain gets worse whilst I am off waiting for my old dirty blood to stop trickling out (trickling ?  noses have been known to flow faster).  Even if I were allowed back to work I wouldn’t be able to make it – the pain has defeated me.

The midwife pays me a visit and after having told me for 5 weeks that there is nothing she can do, now produces some TubiGrip, (no, not TubbyGrip, TUBI-Grip) but tells me it won’t do any good (hey, at least I’m primed for success).  It looks like a huge sock without the toes and I am to wear it around my fecund midriff, doubling it up if possible for extra support.
After she has gone I toddle off to the bathroom, unaware I am about to enter a war.   It’s the classic dilemma – over the head, or up the thighs ? – I settle for stepping into it and heaving it up, though it might have been interesting to try and flatten the Zeppelins.  Its not as stretchy as I imagined and shit a brick, if its this tight round my knees, what the hell is it going to feel like if I ever hoik it up another 2 feet ? 

I wrestle with the TubiGrip, harrumphing in triumph only to realise that I have gotten myself in tangles.  It takes 10 minutes to win the fight and I am exhausted.  The TubiGrip is also in the wrong place – it is supporting my thighs, but not my bump.  I sigh and hoik some more, wriggling and gyrating, but my opponent has strength and refuses to surrender easily.  I imagine we look like a Looney Tunes battle, arms and legs flying out in all directions amid a puffball of steam – all effort, no result.

I crash land on the toilet as I lose my balance – I should have appreciated the damage the elasticity of the material could do to me, how it could lure me into a false sense of security and then boing me off like an overweight ball from a cannon – but as I look down, I think, “That’ll do”.   The TubiGrip is more or less in position, and then I think – ah, maybe I should double it up for extra support?  That way, I will also be able to get some trousers on, rather than looking like I have bought a cheap see-through long cream skirt.
I lift it from the bottom and fold it up on itself and gasp as all the breath whooshes out of me.  Whoa, elastic has strength.  It feels powerful enough to squash my watermelon backwards and out through my bowels, and I am not ready for that yet.  I hastily shuffle the suffocating material back down into a single sheath and inhale deeply as the corset relinquishes its grasp.  I trudge downstairs, smiling at how it achieves the midwife’s aim of keeping my legs together, until on the bottom step I realise I should have peed when I was in the bathroom.

Peeing with the TubiGrip is an interesting experience.  Its long skirt has to be rolled up high enough to release my knickers, but as I sit down on the loo seat, the neat folds I have created morph spitefully into a Cumberland sausage around my waist that ensures I squeeze out every last drop of water my body possesses.  I urge my body to hurry, hurry, as I cannot stand the pressure (again, I am not ready for a rectal delivery of my baby).  I stand, confident that the material will just morph itself back into position, but nooooooo, it can morph to be mean, but not to be helpful.  I am stranded, the spare tyre like a vise round my waist, frantically trying to push it down, roll it down, any old how it down.

Surprisingly, I manage to endure 2 days of TubiGrip before I agree the midwife was right – not only does it not work, but the daily aerobic workouts it gave me were driving me to the point of exhaustion.

I resume my position on the sofa and succumb to the pain.
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