When I was about five months pregnant with Marko, my back started to hurt. Right at the very lowest joint of my lower back, hovering around my right hip. It hurt when I was on my feet a lot (which I always was), when I drove a lot (which I always did), and when I carried any heavy weights (which I didn't do). It hurt at work and during choir practice. It hurt when I tried to roll over in bed. It got so John had to help me get out of bed in the morning. I couldn't stand on one foot to put my socks on or lie on my back, at all, ever. And the further along I got, the worse it got.
I asked my Ob/Gyn about it. I asked each new doctor (there were eight) at each visit. One said to ask my mom. One said it was sciatica. The nicest one said that I might try wearing different shoes and that she could write me a referral to a physical therapist. The shoes helped a little. I couldn't afford the therapist.
I asked Facebook about it. My aunt gave me a few stretches, which helped a tiny bit. Some suggested belly support girdles, which I never did try. Some suggested hot pads and hot water bottles and hot baths, which were all heaven. And everyone else told me to try to stay off my feet, which I did as best as I could.
I asked the internet about it. It said, "It's not sciatica, that's a misnomer. It's something else. 20% of women suffer from it. Suck it up."
When I was in labor, the most excruciating pain was in my pelvis. It hurt worse than the contractions, and of course got worse with the contractions. Then I had a baby, and no pain! At least, none that I noticed while staying off my feet recovering.
But when I got up again and started doing things, it started hurting again. Not a lot. Just a little twinge here and there. I adjusted the way I was wearing my Moby wrap, and it mostly went away. But if I walked too long or carried the baby too much, there it was again. Just a twinge. Nothing to worry about or even restrict what I was doing. Just enough to notice.
So I went back to Google and found more things out. Google said I had SPD -- symphysis pubis dysfunction. All the symptoms sounded about right. The discouraging part was where it said, "DO NOT by any means give birth in stirrups! That could cause permanent damage!" Great. SO GLAD Dr. Pushy took the time to do a Google search, find out what I had, and take precautions. Not. It always makes me mad when I find out something from five minutes of Googling that the doctors don't know. But then again, it took me awhile to find it, too, so whatever.
So I went along my merry way until one day a few months ago when I was walking home from the park and my back started to hurt. It's only a two-block walk. I thought, "This shouldn't be hurting. I wonder if I'm pregnant?" And I was. Little sprout was two weeks old and I was already beginning to hurt.
I'm 15 weeks pregnant now and it hurts about as bad as it did at 30 weeks last time. This makes me really nervous, thinking about the possibility of it getting worse. Every time I rake the leaves, do more than a little housework at a time, or take a walk, I'm pretty much out of commission for the rest of the day. I yelp when I turn over in bed, and I spend my time trying to figure out ways to avoid picking Marko up. I can lift him into his high chair, or carry him to bed. But I can't really rock him standing up, or bring him places he doesn't want to go, or let him come "UP UP UP" every time he demands it, without hurting a lot afterward.
I asked one of the midwives about it, briefly, at our appointment, and she said, "Well, you're pregnant now. You can't expect to be able to cart around a 25-pound toddler everywhere you go anymore. It's time to practice letting him walk." Which was good advice. Sooner or later he's going to have to learn to hold my hand and not dart into the street. We may as well practice now. Then the midwife showed me a couple of stretches, suggested yoga, and told me that the patients she's had with back pain in the past all found chiropractic work helpful.
So there I am. I decided to do more research on SPD to see if there was anything I could do myself, or anything I could avoid doing, that would help. And there is a lot of advice out there. The only thing that isn't quite right is that SPD affects that symphysis pubis -- the joint at the front of the pelvis, where the pubic bone is. And that isn't where the pain is for me. My symphysis pubis has always felt fine. And as a result, the advice to keep my legs together all the time to avoid those twinges has never helped at all.
Finally I landed on a page about pelvic girdle pain, also known as pelvic girdle instability, which actually IS, I'm almost sure, what I have. See, the pelvis has three joints: the symphysis pubis in the front and the sacroiliac joints in the back, on either side of the spine. My sacroiliac joints are the ones that hurt. SPD is just one kind of pelvic girdle pain, and I have another.
PGP is caused loosening ligaments in the pelvis. Of course this is completely natural, because the pelvis needs to loosen up to let the baby out. But it gets too floppy and unstable, and so the muscles take over to keep it steady. Those muscles get really, really sore from doing the pelvis's job. That's why a muscle right over my sacroiliac joint, on one side or the other, is always hurting. Heat and massage help, like they would for any tight, sore muscle.
I found two support pages for women with PGP: the Pelvic Instability Network Support page, and Pelvic Partnership. They both had some good tips. And they both agreed on one thing: the main thing that will make me feel better is to go to a chiropractor or physical therapist and get an adjustment to restore the symmetry of my pelvis. If it's relaxing symmetrically, the muscles shouldn't be called upon to do too much of the work.
So, that's a goal for whenever we have the time and money to do it. Meanwhile, I skip my walks (hardly healthy of me), lead Marko by the hand, and demand a backrub every night.
Anyone else suffer from this? I really recommend following the links in this post; I learned a lot.