I waited my whole life to become a mom. In fifth grade, my music teacher had everyone introduce themselves and say what they wanted to be when they grew up. I eagerly proclaimed, “I want to be a mom!” My peers snickered and made lots of sideways glances at me (which did a world of good for my social anxiety…), but my dream remained. I longed to be a mother one day.
I spent many years crafting the perfect vision of myself as a mom, which was all well and good until life didn’t follow my plan. Let’s fast forward through multiple chapters of heartache and pick up with my pregnancy with my firstborn. It was exciting, difficult, and incredibly painful.
Searching for Answers
Mom friends talked about hip pain during pregnancy, and I found myself thinking this must be normal. Mom bloggers had stories about their partners having to pull them up off the sofa…so that must be normal, too. I’m pregnant—isn’t gratitude the only option? You get to have a baby; it’s going to be fine. You are fine.
The pain intensified after the birth of my first child. I continued to push through the sleepless nights and hours of bouncing. Six months postpartum, I went to see my first orthopedic surgeon. He quickly chalked the pain up to “postpartum.”
I was referred to a physical therapist whom I saw weekly for the next 3½ years. The PT was convinced it was postpartum-related and would sort itself out. My pain was minimized at every turn.
I’m pregnant…isn’t gratitude the only option?
The pain intensified greatly during my second pregnancy. One day, my husband used the phrase chronic pain, and it was as if the wind had been knocked out of me.
As a working mom of two under the age of two, I had never slowed down long enough to recognize, much less validate, the fact that I had chronic pain. The pain was not only intensifying, it was becoming debilitating.
In 2021, I went to see a second orthopedic surgeon. Walks around the neighborhood with my family were no longer manageable. I spent evenings curled up with a heating pad on the sofa watching cartoons with the littles or soaking in a hot bath. I knew something wasn’t okay and I wanted/needed my life back.
The third surgeon I saw in late 2021 happened to be a preservative hip specialist. I happened upon one of the top preservative hip dysplasia specialists in the world right here in Dallas. I was incredibly grateful. After years of unexplainable chronic pain, I was diagnosed with complex hip dysplasia.
My diagnosis provided a surgical option. The surgery would most likely increase my quality of life and general ability. The hope was it would also help decrease pain, but that was not a guarantee. Yet, what in life is? Parenting comes full force without a manual, without any guarantees.
Parenting After a Chronic Illness Diagnosis
How do you parent and continue the daily grind after receiving a chronic illness diagnosis? Things shift. Things ebb and feel out of control. Questions begin swirling, and there are many unknowns. There is no right answer here. Show up when you can and how you can.
The silver lining for me was understanding the reason behind my pain, and the validation that, yes, my pain was real. This was the permission I didn’t know I had been looking for to ask for and accept help. I am worthy of support; I cannot do this alone; my pain matters.
Asking for and accepting help looks different for so many. Partners and extended support systems take on additional daily responsibilities. You often grieve some of the responsibilities you must hand off. I sobbed while soaking up the nights ahead of major surgery as I rocked my almost-two-year-old for the last few times.
I was grieving the months ahead where I would not be able to carry my toddlers, drive them to Target for aimless aisle wandering, take them to their pediatrician and speech therapy appointments…the list goes on. I grieved each and every one.
I am worthy of support; I cannot do this alone; my pain matters.
Accepting the New Norm
Then came radical acceptance. This is my body. This body that has brought me this far and has grown two ridiculously hilarious toddlers. This body will carry me to the beach and to countless adventures over the years to come.
Parenting is all about the relationship, the connection, and the attachment between child and parent. Is it possible to have and maintain or create a secure attachment to your child from your bed or the sofa? Absolutely, 110% yes. Give yourself grace upon grace upon grace. Show up when you can and how you can.
June is International Hip Dysplasia Awareness Month. Able-bodied parenting is something I will never take for granted again.