Parenting With Chronic Pain

It isn’t something I write about often, my pain. Mostly because I don’t want to make this blog about my parenting journey into an eternal journal of whinging, but also in a slight denial aspect that if I don’t say it exists then it might go away any day now. That’s not been a successful venture yet, so I’m led to wonder what can be the harm of being honest in this, my little spot of the Internet. For the past two years, I have been parenting with chronic pain.


When I was pregnant, I obtained a lower back injury which pretty much ended my time in work until after maternity leave. It isn’t to be recommended – not only are you gaining weight like it’s going out of style (at least I was), but you’re also not able to get anything stronger than paracetamol for fear of it crossing the placenta.

So what is parenting with chronic pain?

It’s having your toddler beg you to pick them up constantly, as toddlers do, knowing he doesn’t understand that you can’t but knowing if you do, you will definitely pay for it later.

It’s having to make sure there is a backup person available on days where the medication side effects are too much – days where you can barely stay awake, or where it isn’t working at all so you can barely move or walk. As this is unpredictable, it makes it rather difficult when there isn’t many family members to rely on in the area.

It’s putting your toddler to bed and praying he doesn’t kick you in the back or climb up on your back as he lies next to you, and trying to hold in the swearing and the tears when he does.

It’s dreading solo playground visits because you don’t trust that if your child decides to throw himself head first off the slide (it’s happened) that you can lift him down to safety without your back seizing up.

It’s having to wait until Dada is home for bath time because bending over the bath is hard, and you don’t trust that if the toddler slips you’ll be able to get up from your kneeling position to catch him properly.

It’s feeling guilty at creche drop off on the days you aren’t in work but need that time during the day for things like physical therapy, doctors appointments, everything other type of possible remedy available, or to have a few hours without lifting and hauling a tiny toddler. And that’s on the days when he runs in, happy to go in, not looking back.

chronic pain body is a temple

It’s the guilt at feeling resentful of the tornado that is your toddler, who has absolutely wrecked the living room (again) just after you’ve cleaned it, because you know that the tidy up job includes bending and picking things up, and sweeping – things that others don’t think about but can really take it out of you on pain days. It isn’t as easy as getting the other half to do it; because then it’s the guilt of not doing your bit around the house.

It’s feeling resentful of other mothers who are able to carry children on their shoulders or in slings when you’re left hauling a buggy around with a kid who doesn’t want to be in there – the being up in your arms simply isn’t an option. I am so jealous of sling mamas – the early days with my tiny lightweight baby were incredible but it simply wasn’t sustainable.

It’s wanting to do normal play things that other parents do but that you have to think twice about and then reconsider – things that include a lot of getting down on the ground, of jumping and rolling around, of carrying, of tackling. I have to be cautious. I hate it.

It’s realising most people don’t get it – it’s an invisible illness without a really relatable scale – like mental illness, it’s not as if there is a physical marker like a cast or a crutch to show “she’s suffering”. There is also the feeling that you need to put on a brave face – which is there a lot of the time just to get through the day. These things mixed mean that some can presume that it really isn’t a big issue and therefore don’t understand why you aren’t doing these normal things with and for your children.

It is waking up every morning and hoping that today is different, today is better and one day you’ll be the kind of parent you want to be.

I don’t mean to whinge. Honestly, that wasn’t the purpose of this post. It was more to hopefully reach out to others who may be in the same situation and make them realise it isn’t just them. Meeting Andrea Hayes at her book signing the other day was definitely helpful for me – proof that it wasn’t just me, that there are many more of us struggling with a smile plastered on for appearances sake. Hopefully some morning I’m going to wake up and be normal – until then, I’ll stick that smile on and grit my teeth and try everything I can to do everything I need to do. That’s all I can do.

 

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24 comments / Add your comment below

  1. 🙁 Hang in there, follow all options and do what you can to make yourself better. I’ve a dodgy pelvis which the kids translate as a sore back and it broke my heart to hear my middle boy explain to his little sister one day that I it was acting up that “mammy can’t because her sore back.” , but that was one day. Mind yourself , and have others mind you too x

    1. Yeah that’s the kicker isn’t it, hopefully the pelvis isn’t too bad at the moment. Following everything and anything and willing voodoo magic to work at this point – somethings got to take! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  2. Hope you see an improvement soon. My husband’s had ongoing pain for about a year now. He’s due a treatment next month that will hopefully finally help long-term. It’s so tough parenting a toddler when you’re not in good physical condition yourself 🙁

    1. Fingers crossed his treatment does the trick, I’m due another one next month myself which I’m hopeful for. Thanks 🙂

  3. I am sorry to read this, I hope in time you will be pain free. You are a wonderful mother, don’t ever doubt that. Look after yourself xxx

  4. Your post has brought a tear to my eyes, bringing back memories of when my boys were babies & toddlers. Keep strong, I hope the pain eases for you. I wasn’t able to walk or pick up my boys for a long time, my back gradually got better and physio helped, so much so that I was able to go to a yoga class for retired people (even tho I was only 30 – they didn’t mind me going) . I’m sure your post will help other parents in a similar situation, here’s hoping that your back injury recovers sometime soon xx

  5. Hey, I can really relate to this… I have arthritis, and it’s throughout my entire body. There is almost a nine year age gap between my sister and I, and I couldn’t interact with her the way I wanted : picking her up, kneeling on the floor to play, crawling around, or having her on my back. I am now going through a similar situation with my baby niece, and it’s really disheartening. I worry about the same things you are going through now when I eventually become a parent! I know I am not a parent yet, but if ever you need someone to let off steam to I’m here 🙂 @SassyPant6 xxx

    1. Thank you so much for chatting – arthritis through your whole body must be so tough – I hope that some form of therapy is in the workings that soon will work to make these kind of things not much of a problem but until then, I wish you all the good days!

  6. This really strikes a chord with me. It makes me fell very sad because I’m with you and understand everything you’ve said. I got ill while pregnant so I thought I would be a ‘normal’ mum but it didn’t work out that way. I’m sad that you are going through what I’ve been through. What I can say is that it does get better. My daughter is now 9 and my best friend. She is a wonderfully compassionate girl who wants to fix the world. She wouldn’t have grown up to be this way without seeing first hand what illness and disability mean from me. These are first hand experiences she’s had that make her a better person and a very thankful child. Things do get easier when they start school but their life lessons have started well before that. We have nothing to feel guilty about (I keep telling myself!), we are just different kinds of mothers. Ones who teach compassion and non-judgement ways. xx

  7. HI,I parented for five years with severe sciatica so I completely feel your pain.I found myself exhausted more from keeping up the pretence for the children and refusing for it to take away my family time than the pain itself.I learnt to paint on a smile whilst swearing like a builder!I am now pain free (she says in a whisper) after an operation in September which has given me back my family life.I don’t know how I did it looking back.Hang in there and push for a proper solution..#DreamTeam

  8. Oh no, I can’t imagine living like this. As I type, our toddler is asleep in the sling. It must make life so difficult but I bet you are a pro at working round these things now. Hopefully it’ll get easier as your little one gets older and can understand more. Thanks so much for linking this difficult post up to #DreamTeam and Happy New Year!

  9. Someone pointed me towards this post and it’s like reading about my own life. I was diagnosed with arthritis long before I fell pregnant and during pregnancy was the first time in 3/4 years I’d been pain free but once baby was born, all my usual pain came back with added pains due to the stress labour and childbirth had on my body. I have swollen joints and days where I don’t want to leave my bed but like you said you have to. I hope you’re doing better since writing this x

  10. great post. My brother and SIL both super from chronic pain and they recently had a new baby. Your post definitely helped me understand better their life now and the new challenges they have to deal with.

  11. Your story sounds so much like mine. I sustained a back injury in pregnancy 4 years ago and even though I’ve had surgery I still live with severe sciatic and lower back pain with no reprieve in sight. Parenting babies and toddlers with chronic pain is so challenging but rarely spoken about. It can feel like you are so alone when every other mum around you looks so happy and healthy. Thankyou for sharing xx

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