If you've seen me in the last four months or so, odds are you've seen this big black bag, too. It's my Medela Pump In Style, and it's the reason we're not dropping insane amounts of money on formula. It has been my best friend since Audra's birth and it follows me everywhere, at least when I can't schedule everything within four-hour increments to allow me to get back home in time.
Nearly my entire family came to visit me here for Thanksgiving - my parents, grandmother, sister, and niece drove from Illinois. My brother-in-law was the only immediate family missing, since my brother and his girlfriend were able to fly in from Texas as well. Only my parents had met Audra before, and so everyone came in to see her. I was giddy basically the whole weekend - due to having used up all my vacation time during my leave, I wasn't able to make it home for Christmas this year like I traditionally do, and it would have been next year before anyone in the family outside of my parents saw Audra otherwise.
I swear to you, I don't think I held that baby more than maybe half an hour a day for three days. She wasn't used to so many new faces passing her around and getting her to go to sleep at night was a bit of a struggle, but she soldiered on. She's a brave baby, that one. She accepts snuggles until the bitter end.
Anyway, while my family was in town I wanted to show them Greenville's amazing downtown. Falls Park and its waterfall are a huge draw, so I wanted to be sure I got them at least near the Liberty Bridge to get a good look at it. We started at Mast General Store, where mom bought Audra HER VERY OWN SMARTWOOL SOCKS for Christmas (and me this sweater in the Silver color - this is my favorite sweater and I have it in purple and want it in every color ever made forever and always), hit up O.P. Taylor's to show my niece our favorite toy store, stopped by Dark Corner Distillery where I may or may not have bought their pumpkin spice mixer and butterscotch 'shine (which I believe means I have bought every single one of their products EXCEPT for the Stumphouse Whiskey and the two college-themed 'shines. I'm sorry, I just don't care about South Carolina football that much. Please don't kill me.)
We had lunch at Smoke on the Water, a mainstay for us when my parents are visiting, and my mom, sister, and I were able to wander into The Petite Parade, a baby-store in downtown Greenville that is seriously a place I dream about being able to afford when Audra's a little older.
My mom, concerned about the chill in the air, bought Audra this little hat:
She wore said hat for the entire rest of the weekend.
Afterward, we spent our time in Falls Park where my niece immediately ended up getting a sock wet and I was able to stand on the bridge for about ten seconds before my fear of heights chased me back off.
Notice that in that long and rambling description of every. single. location. we went to that day, you didn't see anything about me ducking out to use the pump at any given time.
I had this idea that I would be fine to go about six hours, despite the fact that I try very hard to never go longer than four.
That first six hours would probably have been just fine, except that lots of visitors came by my in-laws' that night, so while I was able to pump at my house around 4:30 that afternoon before we went to my in-laws, I didn't while we were there because I am very, very Midwestern. It is deep within our nature to not want to be a bother or draw too much attention to ourselves.
So while my schedule normally is timed with a 6 am, 9 am, 12 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm, 9 pm, and then one 3 or 4 am pumping... well.
Friday went like this: the 3 am middle-of-the-night, 6 am, 9:30 AM, 4:30 pm, 9:45 pm.
Notice some numbers missing there?
That night, I began to be in rather a lot of pain. It was sharp and stabbing and radiated out into my inner organs and I told Jason it was definitely worse than I've felt before. Because we needed to be up and ready the next day, we got Audra back to sleep and I was ready for bed fairly early, by 10:15 or so. I just felt so terrible, worn-out and run down and hardly able to move, and hurt so much. All I wanted to do was go to bed.
When I lay down, the pain started to worsen, and realized that not only was I in pretty seriously 6 or 7 on a scale of 10 pain, but I was cold. Very, very cold. Despite wearing pajamas and being under four separate blankets in the bed. My legs also hurt like I had run three or four marathons, and I kept shifting and stretching them, reflexively trying to find a position that would make them hurt less. I couldn't. Everything hurt. I was so cold I was shaking. I could not stop shaking. At some point I started to cry, more out of frustration than anything else.
I did not call to Jason or tell him about this. I just lay in the bed, trying to figure out what to do. I didn't want to be an inconvenience to anyone, when my family had worked so hard to see me. I was mad, too; of course this would happen this weekend of all weekends. Of course. And explaining what had happened to my family the next morning was not something I was looking forward to.
Meanwhile, Jason was at the computer desk just killing some time before going to bed. He told me later that our dog Indy kept walking circles - tagging Jason, then heading into the kitchen towards our bedroom, then coming back again. Over and over. Jason thought he was just being restless, and was surprised to head into our bedroom to go to bed and find me lying there, still shaking, bawling like a little kid, yet completely unwilling to ask for help, because he had worked all day and I didn't want to bother him.
How I survive anything at all sometimes astounds me.
The last time he found me in pain like that was when we had to run to the ER a few years ago and I called him and, crying so hard I could barely breathe, said, "Um, I think we might need to go to the hospital?" but refused to commit to saying that we actually really did need to.
Because, you know, it's a bother to have to go somewhere like that and maybe I could just power through it.
In short, for having no pain tolerance whatsoever I am remarkably willing to just sit around and cry like a baby rather than be the reason anyone has to end their plans early.
I tried to explain what was going on, but was mostly just snuffles and sniffles and "I HURT I'M SO COLD I HURT" all over the place, which was just super helpful when Jason was trying to figure out exactly what it was that hurt and how much. Jason grabbed me a mug of hot water to drink, tried to get me warm, all to no avail. I shook like a dying fish no matter what we did. Eventually, he ran a super hot, basically scalding bath with some herbal bath salts from our last trip to Bryson City. The man is a Problem Solver, and he was going to Solve This Problem.
Which, turns out, the bath totally did.
I soaked in that bath for nearly forty minutes it felt like, eventually feeling some warmth filter back into my aching bones. I was still in a lot of pain overall. I went back out, was able to pump, and then went to bed shortly after midnight still shaking-cold but feeling significantly better. I'll just sleep, I thought. I'll get a good night's sleep and I'll feel better.
And I did! I felt better enough to take selfies with the baby Monday morning.
I woke up at 2:30 in the morning covered in sweat. Just coated with it, my skin burning up under blankets that hadn't been able to warm me at all two hours before. I ended up wandering the house for a while to cool back down, went to bed around 3 and then woke up for the day at 5 am, because even when I can sleep in, it just doesn't happen. Other than the residual ache, I've been basically fine ever since. I was able to hang out with my family without being too obviously run-down. It seemed to go as fast as it came on.
From what happened, I learned a valuable lesson.
Don't test the limits of motherhood too much, or your body will try to eat itself.
That's what I learned.