Postpartum Joint Pain, breastfeeding & more travels

My blood test results all came back within the normal range – however, I am still missing some results, so not all questions have been answered. The doctor wasn’t sure why the results hadn’t come back yet or if those particular tests were ever done. But so far my rheumatoid arthritis factor, insulin and inflammation levels, they are all within the normal range.  That’s a relief to hear that it is unlikely to be rheumatoid arthritis.  So the doctor who called me with the results (not my doctor because she was on leave) prescribed me naproxen to see if that would help alleviate. The drugs made no difference, I took them for a week but no change.  I still wake up in the morning very stiff, sore and in pain in my hands, wrists, toes, ankles and knees.  And then throughout the day my fingers will be noticeably sore at various points unless I keep them moving.  So the current theory remains – postpartum joint pain, crazy hormones, and apparently my body is unlikely to return to normal until after I stop breastfeeding.

Some things people in my breastfeeding support group who had experienced similar suggested – cutting out grains (apparently causes inflammation), vitamin D supplements, chiropractor and naturopathic doctor.  I’m inclined to find a naturopathic doctor.  Part of my brain has been tempted to stop breastfeeding as a result of the pain, but then I figure what if it has nothing to do with breastfeeding?  Then I’d be stopping for no reason, and I’d regret it.  And I’m not going to do that just yet.

I’ve been on work travels again, to Paris this time, and it was another reminder of how much of a pain in the ass pumping is.  Dragging the pump, parts, storage, sanitizing stuff, special bag, hands free bra and cover, through airport security, across the Atlantic and to my host office is tiresome.  Trying to remember to make sure I have everything in my bag, cleaning out the bottles and parts, proper storage and handling, dumping milk I can’t store, it gets tedious, especially doing all this in another country.  One of my colleagues said he was impressed I am still doing it, but I said I’m probably more stupid than impressive.

I’m only pumping three times a day now, I should definitely be doing four pumps because my supply has suffered, so I’m supplementing a couple of ounces a day.  Whilst I have been on my travels Chris has been feeding Aviana milk from my frozen stash.  I managed to build up 6.5 days supply from May to July back when I had a couple of ounces to freeze at the end of the week.  I am hoping I can replace the four days supply with milk I’ve been pumping whilst in Paris – I’m currently carrying with me about 70oz home in my checked luggage.  I’m hoping it all survives the journey, because my days of any over-supply are gone.  I’ve had a little bit of success at increasing my supply with lactation cookies, body armour drink mother’s milk tea, but only managed to get an extra 1-2oz per day, so I’ve been short a few ozs still.  I don’t want to stress over it, so I’m not going to go to extra ordinary lengths to get my supply back up.  The only other thing I might try is consider renting a hospital grade pump to see if that makes a difference; my pump is second hand, so there is a slight chance it’s losing its power and has not been removing the milk enough. Exclusively pumping is HARD!  My hats off to all of you who do it all the time.  I’m not sure I would have survived this long if it hadn’t been for the facebook group ‘exclusively pumping mamas’.

Speaking of travels, this time was harder to leave Aviana than it was when I last travelled in May.  Mostly, because I feel like she notices when I am there or not, but also because I generally miss her more!  I also miss Chris too and get jealous of them having fun together.  My next work trip is in October, but this time I am taking Aviana with me because I have two conferences in the UK, but I would be leaving Chris behind for two weeks!  I will be flying transatlantic on my own with a 9.5 month old, who is on the verge of being mobile.  I swore I wouldn’t fly again on my own with a baby!  Am I crazy?  Probably. No, definitely. BUT it’s a great opportunity to take Aviana back to see family and friends, so I will seize this as a positive opportunity and try not to worry about the possibility of a few (several) hours of hell.

Currently, Aviana and I are not sitting together on the transatlantic flight because we have two different classes of tickets (in economy!).  American airlines have not been very helpful when I called them to see if we could get seats together in the ones designed for infants, but the woman on the phone said “you need to do it online otherwise I have to charge you $50 to do it on the phone or wait to check in”.  Clearly this woman was not understanding the fact that I couldn’t do it online and waiting to check in would probably mean the chances of us sitting together would be zero – and oh, did I mention I am with my 9 MONTH OLD BABY?!?!  She couldn’t understand why I paid for a seat anyway, was her attitude.  Clearly she hasn’t flown transatlantic with a baby before.  I was at work so didn’t have time to complain, accepted it in typical British fashion.  So now I reckon I will be sat in the middle of a row pissing other passengers off with my squirming, crying baby on a red eye.  But I have a plan – I’ve put my seat in the ‘extra leg room’ seat (I get it for free because of my airline miles status)…and am hoping someone traveling on their own who is currently sat next to Aviana will jump at the chance to swap with me to get extra leg room.  IT’S SOOOOO STUPID.

Wish me luck!!!

I need some answers!!!

Unexplained infertility, unexplained Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), unexplained bowel problems – aka Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the bucket for all unknown bowel problems. Now I'm potentially facing unexplained joint pain and stiffness…I really hope that doesn't become the case, because I'm going to be pissed if I don't get answers!

Today I went to the doctor's because I have been experiencing progressively worse joint pain and stiffness for the past 4 months or so. A couple of months ago at my annual medical exam I mentioned that I had been experiencing numbness and tingling in my hands and feet. My doc said it was probably carpal tunnel syndrome, it's not uncommon after pregnancy as the body changes shape to experience this. She told me to try ibuprofen and if that didn't make a difference to come back and see her. I tried the ibuprofen and it didn't work. Without any sign of improvement I decided it was time to go back.

I wake up in the mornings stiff and sore in my hands, feet and more recently, my knees. It's most painful in my hands and it takes about 10 minutes or so to warm my joints up to move properly. I get out of bed and hobble as if I'm an old person. It's not getting better, in fact I say it's just getting worse as I feel sore from it during the day now. This week my little finger on my left hand locked stiff after waking up, it only lasted a few moments. But still, that's pretty freaky. I don't dare pick up Aviana as soon as I've woken up in case I were to drop her, in fact I probably wouldn't be able to lift her anyway.

The doctor thinks it is probably postpartum related because I'm breastfeeding still and my periods haven't returned yet. She's running some tests to rule out other things like Rheumatoid Arthritis, but because I don't have other symptoms she doesn't think it will be that. That would suck a lot if I have that.

Whatever it is I really hope they figure out what's going on because I am BORED of doctors not being able to tell me why I get this crap!!