That explains everything.
Well, not everything. It still doesn’t explain how I’ve lost only ONE pound in 4 weeks. Grumble. But it explains a lot of the other things. If you don’t know what mastitis is, it means that my breasts are sick. Can you blame them? They’ve been working overtime. More like double time. Ok, my breasts have never worked like this EVER and now they are literally my child’s lifeline. What kind of training plan is this? You can’t go from couch potato to 5K in…one day. It takes time! Alas, too much too soon too fast leads to…mastitis.
How did I know? On Thursday I had my 6-week check up. This was the big one – the one I’ve been waiting to go to for the past…6 weeks. As you can imagine, the past 6 weeks have been my prison sentence of inactivity and sleep deprivation. The sleep deprivation – I can handle that. Or at least ignore it. The inactivity – that was not so easy. Honestly it was torture. When you go from very active – even though my activity was at late pregnancy pace (slow) – to inactive, it is not an easy transition.
At the visit, the nurse first took my blood pressure. Wait, no urine sample? I've been holding it for at least 30 minutes unsure if I could pee on command anymore now that their isn't 36 pounds of whatever all that stuff was pressing down on my bladder. This meant I found myself cross-legged and biting my lip waiting for the opportunity to go to the bathroom. Then, she drew blood to see if I was anemic. Listen, I took enough iron during pregnancy that I’m convinced you could stick a magnet to me! (and after years of battling anemia, I found the cure....2x ferrous sulfate daily along with a prenatal vitamin, lots of spinach, eggs and lentils in case anyone out there has struggled with it).
Of course no visit is complete without a trip to the scale. One of these days I’m going to go apeshit in that office and throw the scale through the window. Or, better yet, do what the woman before me did. They weighed her, and she weighed 285 pounds. Her response, that can’t be right.
Exactly. The scale is full of shit. None of us really weigh as much as that damn thing says. That is what I have been saying all along but WHO listens to me – who!? No one.
Then it was my turn. The nurse tells me I weigh exactly one pound less than I did four weeks ago.
And that is all I have to say about that.
Then we head to the exam room. It’s a bottoms off kind of visit. Those are the best because they involve a paper sheet. The best in gynecological couture. I still have not mastered the art of putting on the paper sheet without tearing it in all the wrong places. Hence the paper napkin covering me.
The doctor comes in and asks how I’m doing.
You got time? Because I’ve got an answer. Let’s see. I went to bed last night at 9 pm, Max woke up at 10:54 pm then 12:46 am then 3:14 am and then decided to stay up until 5:15 am at which point I placed him in bed with Chris and said “your turn.” He brought Max into me at 6:10 am to feed then I went to sleep until 8:31 am. That’s right – I spent nearly 12 hours in bed yet only half of it sleeping. So how am I doing? HOW AM I DOING? Right now all I’m doing is going from my bedroom to Max’s bedroom for half the day. And honestly I don’t know how I feel about that.
I know you don’t want to hear this question right now but when are you thinking of having your next child?
OH MY GOD! Woman, ARE YOU MAD? Take it back. Take it back NOW! What kind of question is that!? How about never. Or before I hit menopause. When men can carry babies? When the stork starts doing his job again?? Do I have any options here? She needs an answer. I settle for telling her that perhaps in two years. PERHAPS. Let’s see how this first one goes.
Are you exclusively breastfeeding?
Yes, but between you and me – I am not enjoying it. I know it’s not like it should be a party at my boob every single time but it’s just really draining. She tells me the good news - I might not get my period for 4 to 6 months as long as I exclusively breastfeed. But there are no guarantees.
You could get it in 2 weeks.
Awesome. BEST NEWS EVER. And, for the record, I can’t wait.
I’ll spare you the conversation on birth control, but let’s just say it ended like this.
I don’t want you getting pregnant for at least 6 months.
YOU AND ME BOTH! For crying out loud do not even say the word pregnancy around me.
It would be very harmful to your uterus.
And my mental health.
Of course, this is only because I had a c-section. Other women can jump right back into pregnancy just like that woman with 1900 kids. Or, 19 sets of Irish twins. Maybe someone should talk to her about birth control? Tell her whatever she’s doing, psst….it’s not working.
She looks at my incision and says it’s healing beautifully.
The scar will be much lighter in 6 months.
I wasn’t even worried about that. After all, who’s going to see it other than my husband (who always says he’s just happy to be in the game) and myself. I’m not saying I like the scar. In fact I’ve had all sorts of creative ideas about ways to decorate the scar (how about some barbed wire around it and a sign that says if you can read this you are about 10 miles too close to my private area) but I really don’t care how it looks. Now, if you could promise that the rest of me will be MUCH lighter in 6 months that would make me VERY happy.
Then I ask her to feel something. The other night I found a strange lump in my abdomen. I got all sorts of freaked the shit out. Because the only thing I could think about was: hernia. I immediately got on to the most reliable source of medical information – the internet – and diagnosed myself with 3 different types of hernias all requiring surgery. I had visions of my organs popping out through my now weak abdominal wall and eventually through my belly button. Then I went to bed and cried over myself because I was convinced I would spend another 3 weeks recovering from something else with no heavy lifting or activity.
She poked around and thought it might be a swollen lymph node. But to be sure, she sent me for an abdominal ultrasound. As long as they don’t discover Max’s long lost twin floating in my abdomen, I’ll consider myself ok.
Since I was laying down, I asked her to look at my boobs. You see, for the past two weeks the underside of both of them has been pink and spotted. I figured it might be some weird chafing or reaction to wearing a bra 24 hours a day. Or protest. Something like boobs turn hot and red when angry. Who doesn’t? But as soon as I flashed her she said, looks like you’ve got some mastitis.
The cure: antibiotics. She asked if I felt run down or fatigued. Trick question? I’ve been getting maybe 6 hours of broken sleep every night for the past 6 weeks. At this point what is fatigue.
And for all the athletes out there – ask yourself this before you get pregnant what is fatigue AND what is pain. Because I’ve found that us athletes have whacked out perceptions of fatigue and pain. I cannot tell you how many people look at me cross-eyed and crazy when they see me “out and about” with a 6-week old. You’re getting around well. As opposed to what? Laying in bed all day with a bed pan? Sure it didn’t feel good for a few weeks but it wasn’t life ceasing pain or eyes can't stay open fatigue. The show must go on. I MUST MOVE!
But back to the mastitis, this morning I did wake up feeling a bit more like ass than usual so maybe that was a sign but I just thought this was all part of having an infant. Turns out that your boobs are not supposed to be pink and breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt (haven’t I heard that before).
Next she does some examining.
Your cervix is closed and your uterus has returned to normal.
Well AMEN! But you failed to mention anything about the chains, locks, KEEP OUT sign and the bear trap in front of my cervix for anything – ANY THING – that might try to get within 10 feet of it. And as for my uterus, I am happy to hear it has returned to its normal habitat. Deep within my innards to hopefully not stretch again for AT LEAST a few years.
I sit on the examining table, waiting. Um, don’t we have something to talk about here…how about a little swim/bike/run…hmmph?
Have you returned to physical activity?
Wait a minute. Did YOU just ask ME? I thought this was the appointment where YOU granted ME permission to engage in physical activity. I have been waiting 6 weeks. You told me 6 weeks ago not to do any physical activity for fear that I would burst open the incision and my insides would explode all over the place only to have to be sewn back in again and you’re asking ME if I’ve done any physical activity? Here I had been waiting for all this time for her to announce that I could return to working out. In my mind, I expected something much more dramatic. Perhaps a little fanfare, some confetti dropping from the ceiling, a party horn, maybe even a clown, some trumpets, a parade and the doctor bursting into the room with her magic wand saying YOU MAY NOW WORKOUT!
A bunch of elves appear around me clapping and shouting YAY!!!!!!
Not that I’ve envisioned this moment or anything.
But then she asked me. As if it was all along in my hands. She doesn’t tell me what to do. She asks me what I’ve been doing. I tell her I’ve been active. Physically.
And it was left at that.
So much for any confidence I had in the 6-week guideline actually being grounded in hard core you should follow this science (it’s not).
She asks if I have any more questions. I do. It’s about my abs. You see, I did that little test where you lay on your back, lift your head up and if your stomach rises in a little cone you know that you have diastasis recti. Which is separation of the abdominals. Right now I can fit two fingers in between my left and right abdominal walls. And that really scares me. I’m a little freaked out about what is in there and what could push out. Turns out the uterus pushes out between the abdominal walls as a survival mechanism. So glad the uterus survived at the expense of my abs! Is there any other part of my body that pregnancy would like to claim?
The doctor tells me that they will never grow back. But, if I’m lucky like some women, they will tighten closer together.
I sewed yours up very well when I was in there.
Why doesn't this make me feel any better. You SAW my abs? You very well could have been the last person to see them in tact and you didn’t let me know so I could at least say GOOD BYE to them forever?
Sniff.She hands me a prescription to clear up the mastitis, tells me to come back in 6 months and that is that. I’m good to go. In whatever sense I want to go. And that’s good news because as you can tell I’m getting a little pent up here and feel the need to run a few – seriously I am going – crazy laps. The 6-week sentence has been lifted! And, now we will return to our regular programming of swim - bike - run...ok, a little mommy stuff too because my kid is just too damn cute to not talk about him!