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Being a Mom is Back-Breaking Work

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

I’ve talked a bit about the back problems I have, which is one of the reasons I went radio silent last week on the blog. Had to get an MRI again, for what felt like a pinched nerve down my butt and legs -- again. It was a pretty bad week for me…

About four years ago I had a microdiscectomy to repair a bulging (herniated) disc that was pressing on a nerve -- and pressing hard -- that left me almost unable to walk for a period of time. It grew to be so excruciatingly painful over time and, unfortunately, physical therapy, steroids, Cortisone shots, etc. didn’t help. I tried everything. But a bulging disc is a bulging disc, so thank god surgery was an option. It proved a success -- I was even back at work a week later! I felt like a new person, and was my old self again in no time -- going out, writing about nightlife, dancing till the wee hours.

But the back problems started up again on my honeymoon of all times, and it’s persisted on and off ever since. Actually it got really bad right before I was pregnant with Preston; I remember waking up every day in awful, aching pain -- then like some miracle, as the pregnancy progressed the back problems slowly eased up. Maybe the extra weight took some pressure off a nerve or joint or something (or maybe it was the class C pain meds); whatever it is, I actually made it through my pregnancy without having any major debilitating back problems or winding up horizontal for any extended period of time. I had the typical pregnancy pains in my hips and pelvic bone, but my back actually held up.

I’ve made it through Preston’s first year relatively unscathed in the back area…until now. He’s tall; he’s heavy; he’s finally mobile (crawling, cruising, learning to walk with our help). My back is shot, to say the least. Since I’ve been down this road before, I knew to schedule the MRI right away to see what was going on. I’ve made it no secret that I want to have more kids, the sooner the better, so I wanted to get this done right away (they prefer you don’t get an MRI during your first trimester).

What it showed is, there’s no bulging disc this time; nothing is pressing on anything, so apparently the only thing unraveling is my mind and my stress levels, according to a chiropractor I saw last week. He thought the daily deadlines I'm under, the pressure of my job, the work/family juggle, the stress that goes with being a full-time working mom, could be taking its toll on my back.

I have an appointment on Wednesday with an actual orthopedic doctor, but in the meantime all I can do is...nothing (or complain to my husband, which I do often). I’m a working mom with a heavy toddler -- I can’t take time out of my life to nurse a sore back this time. When I went through this 4-5 years ago, I was very single so I could spend my weekends laid up on my friend’s couch. Now? Try explaining to an active 14-month-old that “Mommy’s back hurts so she can’t pick you up right now.” Yeah, riiiiight.

Slowing down is not an option at this point in my life. Seeing the chiro helped relieve some of the pain last week, but I’m still on the fence about that kind of treatment and whether it’s just a band-aid to a bigger problem. I’ll hopefully be getting into PT after I see this doctor on Wednesday, and fingers crossed that does the trick. I’m determined this time to stick to the PT, and do everything in my power to relieve this pain. I don't want this affecting my life -- or, let's put it this way, I don't have time to let this affect my life. And I certainly don't want this affecting Preston in any way whatsoever.

And I also don't want this old pesky back problem to get in the way of my plans to have more kids. As I sit here typing this, I’m lying on a heating pad which I’m alternating with an ice pack every 20 minutes (the baby’s in bed; the husband’s at work; the dog’s lying on the floor next to me).

This is the only time in my day I’m actually not under physical stress…I can let my mind wander off too, to whatever crappy TV I’m watching…or Facebook… Maybe this is related to stress… Sure, my kid is heavy, but my life is even heavier lately (we’re opening a restaurant; I’ve got A LOT on my plate at work, and home, etc.).

Have you ever felt that the stress of your life has taken over your body? Or have you ever dealt with this kind of back pain? And what’d you do about it, as a mom?

Oh, and P.S. Shameless plug. I entered Preston into that Gap Casting Call contest, like every other naive mother on the planet. Please vote for him!? Thanks!