My husband and I started dating in our teens, and as you do when you’re a teenager, we imagined what our lives would be like in the future and for both of us that included having children. In my late teens, early twenties I got my formal diagnosis of HEDS and POTS, which proved my pain and struggles were real, but also that they were always going to be a part of me.
Something I didn’t consider was how that was going to affect me mentally about having children. I wanted to so badly, but I had such fears about whether I could be the parent I’d always dreamed of. This is something my husband and I openly discussed, he always would respond with ‘We will make the world work for us’.
My fears pushed to the side after we were married, we were ready to start a family. We fell pregnant and as the months went on and we got to see our little life growing, those fears resurfaced.
I started researching to see if I could find any ideas on the Internet. There were things here and there, but I became increasingly aware, it was going to be down to us to figure out what worked for our baby and us.
So I wanted to share with you three of those concerns I had before having my baby and the ways (‘Hacks’) we were able to overcome them.
For me I felt I always wanted to give nursing a try. Whether it worked or not didn’t matter to me, what was important was if I was able to give it a go I wanted to. My big concern was about holding my child to nurse them. My joints are not keen on me holding anything heavy in one position for long periods, so I had my reservations.
I researched into it and as it turned out it seemed most mums who nursed their babies felt back pain, without having any underlying conditions. And the way a lot of them seemed to deal with this was with a nursing pillow.
So we went ahead and popped one on our registry, in a pattern we thought was stunning yet gender neutral, but when baby came, I didn’t find it that useful.
I found that when she was newborn she was too low, then as she grew too big it would slip from under her, it just didn’t work for us, as it seemed to for so many.
So instead we just grabbed our spare bed pillows, and they worked a treat! We could add or take away as many as I needed which allowed her to be supported, so I wasn’t taking her weight in my arms.
Other things we found very useful were to make sure I was sat with very good back support, whether that be in a chair or in bed. Supporting my body from every angle made nursing a breeze.
But it wasn’t going to work outside the home. I mean I am sure my husband would have carried ten pillows on his back had that been what I needed, but it wasn’t practical.
That’s when I found a baby sling. I hadn’t thought a sling was for us, because baby’s weight primarily on one shoulder, which would create problems for my joints. But for sitting in my wheelchair or car it worked wonders. I would be nursing 90% of the time at home. So I figured my body could endure that 10% using a sling. And I’m pleased to say it did.
This was probably top of my ‘Mummy with additional factors’ list. Carrying my child. When you are pregnant your body is carrying baby for you. That isn’t going to be the case when baby is born.
I didn’t carry cups of tea from the kitchen because more likely than not it would spill or hit the deck. I fell, well I still fall, quite often, I’m clumsy, it’s who I am. How on earth was I going to be able to keep my precious, breakable human safe?
This was when I discovered baby carriers. And my perspective changed completely. The carriers are so varied from the kind you use to go hiking, to a super long piece of stretchy fabric, which can be wrapped in a number of ways to suit you and baby.
My eyes were opened and I probably spent way too much time on YouTube learning about all these carriers and how to use them. And I brought several.
When my daughter came home from the hospital she wanted to be held, by me, at all times. Otherwise she would scream and scream, so in order to use the bathroom, I used a wrap baby carrier. It was wonderful, and she loved it! (Heres a picture of us making a pie together, my I had a baby a month ago glamour)
Her weight was distributed in a very similar way to when she was on the inside, so my muscles were there and happy to hold her.
What was fantastic was my arms were free, so I could use my manual chair when we were out and she was nestled safe on me. It meant I could cook, clean or use my laptop, with her blissfully sleeping away on my chest.
Now if there was a word I felt should be tattooed on my forehead it should be ‘pacing’. Every health professional I see in relation to my conditions say it over and over again. And that’s because their right. It is so important in self-management and self-care.
I wouldn’t say I had mastered pacing, but I was really implementing in into my life. But as my child was on their way I wondered how on earth I was going to be able to pace myself when I had this child who was my number one priority.
Two words fixed my one word problem… ‘Nap time’
The instinct when your newborn sleeps is to get everything done that needs doing, cleaning cooking etc. What worked for me, ignore these instincts and rest.
My child needed me to be at my best when she was awake, so the way I maintained that was to do the age old ‘rest when baby rests’. I’m not saying I did that 100% of the time. But I tried my very best to do so.
That’s three of the concerns I had before having a baby and how we overcame them when baby was here. I wish I could go back in time and stop myself worrying so much about these things, but because of them, it has stopped me worrying about the concerns I have for the future. I honestly feel, with the right adaptation, we can do anything any other family can.