I didn’t see it coming.

So I am going to spit this blog post out as quickly as I can, because I really want to put it out there that I did something weird, tried something new, and it WORKED.

If you’ve been reading my pregnancy updates, you’ll know that the main difference between this pregnancy with Middle and my last pregnancy with Poppyseed was my comfort level.  I floated through my last pregnancy with very few woes.  Unfortunately, around 18-20 weeks with this pregnancy, I started to feel a lot of, shall we say, discomfort.

It all began with a large bruise on my upper/inner left thigh that I originally blamed on Crossfit.  Then I noticed that bruise was “spreading.”  I eventually noticed that it wasn’t a bruise at all, but veins that were bursting underneath the surface of my skin.  By the time I got to about 24 weeks pregnant, I was concerned enough about all of these dark blue veins to ask my midwife about them.  She reassured me that they were a normal pregnancy issue and recommended I begin supplementing with Vitamin C and bioflavanoids. A few weeks later I began to notice large veins bulging from my left knee.  And let’s not forget the day I was getting ready for my daughter’s birthday party and suddenly felt like someone was popping me in the calf and foot with a rubber band.  I looked down and could actually see the veins bursting under the surface of my skin.  First they’d turn red, then blue, and then the blood would spread under the surface of my skin.

I won’t share too many pictures, because honestly it’s pretty embarrassing, but here is a quick shot of my left leg.  This is pretty much happening all the way up my left leg, even where the sun don’t shine.

I've had more than one friend say, "Wow, your pictures don't do this justice" after seeing my leg in person.

I’ve had more than one friend say, “Wow, your pictures don’t do this justice” after seeing my leg in person.

If it had just been an issue of my leg turning black and blue, that would be one thing.  But it was painful.  Really really painful.  Every morning I woke up and looked at my legs.  They’d look totally normal and feel great.  But then I would swing my legs off the side of the bed and walk into my bathroom, and immediately the tingling/popping/burning would begin.  I’d feel my calf fill up with blood first, and then my knee would bulge, and lastly my, er, left side of my groin would start to swell.  Clothing (especially underwear) was really uncomfortable, walking was painful, and the only way to provide relief was to just simply lie back down.

I told my chiropractor, who sort of scratched his head.  So I switched to another chiropractor just to get another opinion.  She shook her head and told me she hated it for me but didn’t have any suggestions.  In fact, she didn’t even want to adjust me until I went to a vein specialist to make sure I didn’t have a bigger problem than just pregnancy-related varicose veins.  So off I went to the local vein center, where I met with a really nice physician who basically just said, “Honey, the weight of your uterus is just crushing your veins.  It’s cutting off the blood flow each and every time you stand upright, causing your veins to burst one at a time.  The only solution is to give birth, and maybe get some good compression socks in the meantime.”  I followed his advice and got the socks, which DID help quite a bit, but wearing those suckers in the heat of Texas summer can be tough!

As the weeks went by, it just got worse and worse.  I had to take breaks and lie down on the couch every few minutes.  I couldn’t really work out anymore.  Simply taking Poppyseed to the park was really hard.  I even had to lie down in the back seat of my car on a few occasions, just to relieve the pressure a bit before walking into buildings or gatherings.

Finally a friend recommended that I try something new and go to a “craniosacral therapist.”  I only know a few people who have tried this (for various reasons, none of which for the problem I was having) and to be honest it sounded pretty hokey.  My understanding was that you go to an office, lie on a table, and answer weird questions while a supposedly educated therapist very lightly touches you on your head and spine.

IMG_5315

Yeah, this pamphlet managed to explain exactly nothing to me. But the waterfall graphic is kind of nice.

I found some information on craniosacral therapy that basically described it as a natural rhythm in your body that can be disturbed and lead to problems.  Frankly I read a little bit and decided it sounded like hocus pocus.  I wasn’t convinced of a thing and didn’t really feel like putting the time into researching it further.

But friends, I was DESPERATE.  I was willing to try anything.  So three weeks ago, at 35 weeks along, I found myself pulling up to a lady’s house (yes I said house, not office) and filling out some basic paperwork.

The experience went kind of like this.  We spent 5-10 minutes talking about my problem.  I tried to explain (in a modest fashion) my discomfort.  “Well, every time I stand or walk, my entire left side gets really swollen and painful.  Basically all my blood pools into my calf, knee, and even my privates.  It didn’t happen during my first pregnancy, and it is only getting worse, so I don’t know what to do.  I’m even beginning to worry that I won’t be able to push my baby out when I’m in labor because I already feel so much pain and pressure down there as it is, without the issue of a baby trying to make its way out.” 

The therapist had a pretty direct and no-nonsense personality.  Oh, and did I mention that the appointment was at her house?  I literally knocked on her front door and laid down on a table in her home office.  She did have some legitimate physical therapy diplomas hanging on her walls, some very organized looking files and books, and pictures of her four kids on the wall.  But it was definitely the first time I went to a “medical appointment” at someone’s house.  Her teenage son was home actually, and at times during the appointment I could hear him on the other side of the house making a snack or answering the phone.  Kind of odd, right?!

She had me lie down on an exam table.  She made sure I was comfortable by propping me up with various pillows and then asked if she could just sort of take a look at me.  I think the way she phrased it was, “she wanted to zone in on me a bit.”   She simply stood at the foot of the table and lightly pressed my feet for about a minute.

“I see that you have some tightness on your left side.  Do you mind if I place my hands over your hips and groin to get a better feel?” she asked.

“Not at all” I replied, all the while thinking to myself, “Of course you supposedly sense tightness on my left side.  I just TOLD YOU I was having problems on my left side.”

I laid there for an hour while she barely touched me.  She would put one hand on the top of my hip and the other underneath.  She asked me a few questions that were nearly impossible to answer.

Therapist: “How would you describe your uterus right now?”

Me: “Ummmm…. I guess I’ve never thought about that before, I’m not sure.”

Therapist: “I understand.  Just try to focus on how it feels right now and see if you can describe it.”

Me: (trying very hard to “zone in” to my uterus) “I guess it feels….. full?  I mean really I don’t have any complaints about my uterus…. I get a positive feeling from it I suppose.”

Therapist (she seemed somewhat amused at my struggle to describe my uterus):  “So, our bodies are actually really good at communicating with us, but it takes a lot of practice to learn to listen to them.  For the next several days, I’d like you to pay close attention to your uterus and try to make a list of words to describe it.  It will be hard at first, but as you practice communicating with your body you will learn to hear what it is telling you.”

Um…… okay.

I have to admit, when I was there on her table I was pretty into what she was doing.  It was easy for me to relax and just sort of go with the flow.  She was very professional, and I did ask a few questions about what she was doing and she did her best to answer them.  Overall I had just sort of decided before I knocked on her door that I was going to try not to be a skeptic and make the best of it.  Yet I did wonder if I was wasting $70 and an hour of my time.

Every five or ten minutes, she would ask me if I felt anything.  I tried to answer her honestly, but if you’ve ever been 35 weeks pregnant then you understand that it’s just hard to describe how that feels.  I’d often feel some pressure, but it just seemed to be the baby moving around.  At one point I was lying down with my eyes closed, feeling pretty relaxed considering the surroundings, and I suddenly felt really light headed.  But she didn’t say anything at that point in time, so I didn’t say anything either.

I asked her what she was able to feel.  She tried to explain that she was able to feel pulling between several muscles and ligaments, but I didn’t really follow all of the medical jargon.

After an hour, she told me to sit up carefully.  I did as instructed and swung my legs off of the table.  I stood up and looked at her and thanked her for her time and help.  She asked me point blank how I felt.

“I feel good.  I feel relaxed.  I can’t wait to see if this helped, thank you so much!”  I politely smiled and handed her my debit card.

The truth was that at that moment I was waiting.  I was waiting on the familiar feeling of burning, blood pooling, and pain.  It was the first time in months that I’d stood up and NOT felt that.  But frankly, I wasn’t ready to admit it to the therapist!  It seemed too crazy!  No way did all of that light touching actually DO something, right?

As she swiped my debit card, she told me that she felt like she loosened up my left side and hoped that I would feel an improvement.  I told her I couldn’t wait to see if she was right and then let myself out.  The whole time I walked to my car I wondered, “Am I just under the placebo effect here?  Why isn’t my leg burning?  Is this for real?”

I didn’t really believe it until the next day.  But readers, that lady was FOR REAL.  I am not kidding, she really did loosen something up.  I don’t know what she did or how she did it, but I have not felt any pain or discomfort since I left her house.  I seriously didn’t want to say or post anything until several days had passed, but at this point it has been almost three weeks.  I am amazed.  I wish I had gone as soon as the problem began.  I’m hopeful that once I have the baby, I’ll be able to get someone to help me with Poppyseed and stay off of my feet for a week or two.  Maybe during that time some of my damaged veins will heal and the bruising will finally fade.  But at least there is no more damage being done by doing things like simply walking around with my toddler!

If you live in the area and want to see her, just send me a message or comment and I’ll send you her contact information.  The downside to seeing her for the first time at 35 weeks pregnant was that she left the following week for a training on the west coast and it happens to last 5 weeks!  So by the time she finishes and gets back to Texas, I’ll (hopefully) have delivered this baby.  But the neat thing is that the training she is attending is focused on craniosacral therapy in obstetric patients, so she is about to be even more knowledgeable about helping pregnant women.

Also, the more I’ve talked about her to friends in the area, the more I’ve heard that she has been extremely helpful with babies who are having nursing/latching issues due to tongue and lip tie.  In fact, my friend Chelsea blogged about taking her 3 month old son to a therapist in the DFW area here, and you can read about her crazy/similar experience if you click on her blog post!

I’m just saying, I don’t know how all of this hocus pocus stuff works, but hey, it WORKS!

 

Related posts:

About Lola

Comments

  1. You describe the pain I had perfectly…. with all 3 pregnancies. Wish I had known about this!!!

    • I know, I thought of you! I wish I’d figured it out sooner for both of our benefit. You should still go find a CST in Tulsa though, because you probably have underlying things going on if you had that issue! Lots of girls at my box go to her regularly and swear it’s reduced their injuries and improved their form. Crazy.

  2. Awesome! I’m in the massage therapy field and know quite about craniosacral therapy (even had some done as a teenager for headaches/neck tension), but I would have never thought about it for treating pg related vein issues! I may hire a friend who specialized in CST as I have circulation issues too, mainly just my left lower leg (made worse by pregnancies – currently 29 weeks with #4 – but managed with compression stockings). Glad I read this post!

    • Absolutely! I was shocked at the difference it made. Shocked I tell you! I have already scheduled my postpartum followup. I am fascinated with CST now.

Leave a Reply