On certain days this past week, I got debilitating pain in my lower abdominal area as I recovered from the birth of Caylee. It was the easiest of my deliveries, the quickest time in the hospital, but this was and continues to be the most grueling of all postpartum experiences.
Changing positions while lying down, getting up out of bed, maneuvering in a chair or rocker, even a lazy boy — all of these triggered a pain that radiated across my lower abdomen. Very often, I had to scoot my feet across the floor so as not to aggravate the pain as I went to the toilet, picked up Caylee from her crib, or changed her diaper.
On top of this unusual abdominal pain that came and went at random times, I had to deal with the episiotomy healing, the sore breasts from nursing, and the overall fatigue. Gosh, I am still dealing with these things!
Yesterday, I broke down. I cried out to the Lord for help, and I cried in front of my other children, the household help, and over the phone as I spoke to Edric. I was both frustrated and confused because I had never experienced this kind of pain after all of my previous births. There would be the usual contraction pains of the uterus as it shrinks back to size, but that would subside in a few days. All my births, including this one, have been Lamaze. I would be up and about soon after birth. This pain, on the other hand, began about three days after I got home and it didn’t dissipate. Every now and then, it was reminiscent of my endometrial pain.
During my conversation with Edric, I mouthed out all kinds of statements in my delirium, like “I just want to get better. I just want to be able to be a wife to you, and a mom to the kids. I can’t homeschool or be productive. I don’t see hope for relief. Is God upset with me? Does he want me to die? What if it doesn’t go away? I don’t know what to do. I feel so lost. I just hate being a burden to people, to you, to anyone. I have no appetite. Food is not appealing to me.”
Edric listened with quiet strength, trying his best to understand and comfort me. He assured me that he was there for me, that he would take care of me. He reminded me that God is sovereign.
He also asked if he needed to rush back home from work to see me. I told him to stay and attend to all his meetings. He did insist that we go see the doctor today instead of Thursday like I had originally scheduled to. I told him I didn’t want to see my doctor at first because I couldn’t imagine getting myself to the clinic in the state I was in.
The only way I thought I would make it is if I was put on a stretcher and carried to the clinic. That’s what I felt like yesterday morning. Plus, there was the added complication of what to do with my ten day old, Caylee. I didn’t want her to be exposed in the hospital or a clinic. And I wouldn’t be able to carry her around anyway, not in this state.
My other problem was a lack of appetite. I had to force myself to eat meals since I was losing weight too quickly, and my body was weak. And if I didn’t eat, I knew I wouldn’t produce enough breast milk.
During my lucid moments, I told myself, God loves me. I knew he was present, and he had not abandoned me. But pain certainly plagued me with doubts about all of the above.
Ironically, I was reading through the book of Job every morning. (Actually, I play the audio version of my Bible so that Caylee gets to hear it, too.) That book always terrified me because God allowed Job to be tested by the evil one. He permitted him to be afflicted beyond Job’s capacity to bear. It humbled him, and it also made him question God’s purpose and intent.
However, in the end he acknowledged that God doesn’t need to explain himself to any of us. His wisdom and his sovereignty are far greater than we can ever imagine, so we can’t presume to know the reasons for why he allows what he does. We can’t judge him based on our circumstances. The good news is that God restored what Job lost and more, but He allowed Job to go through that period of refining. In the end, Job surmised, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” (Job 42:5-6)
Well, what has God been teaching me?
Sometimes God brings us to a point of utter dependence and frailty so that we must rely on him and the resources he provides. We cannot take credit for making it through certain seasons. He reminds us that we are needy, we are but dust. Pain makes us humble. It makes us long and hope for eternal life. It makes us appreciate the people in our lives who care, who reach out in concern, who pray for us. It makes us grow in faith because we must hold on to the truth that God is good, that he has the best plans for us even as we go through life’s storms.
During my check-up today, my doctor assured me that everything was going to be okay. What a relief! It was an answered prayer.
She told me to:
1. Drink more water to avoid getting fevers related to dehydration.
2. Walk around when I can to get my body’s systems kickstarted again.
3. Sneak in some extra rest in the mornings from my rough nights by sending Caylee outdoors with a sibling or household help.
4. Realize that I am older and things are really harder at my age. It’s just a fact.
What I also included to help me:
1. Avoid cold foods and soups. Everything I eat and ingest must promote internal warmth (as recommended by my friends, Mich and Berlyn.) They suggested Lapu Lapu soup, Chinese herbal tea, Cacao, and the like.
2. Use a hot compress to alleviate the abdominal pain.
3. Take Arnica pills, a homeopathic remedy for internal bruising (Thanks to my friend, Andi.)
4. Take Manuka Honey for my digestion and energy.
5. Eat prunes to promote regular stool movement so gas doesn’t get trapped inside me, adding to the pain.
I think I have made it through the hardest days that I will have to endure in terms of recovery, so the next week should be a lot better. 😊
From my quiet time this morning, I also want to quote Job who understood physical affliction to encourage all of you out there who may be dealing with pain …”But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes…” (Job 19:25-27)