In the past few weeks I have received numerous requests soliciting advice and information concerning being a pregnant amputee. This topic was the impetus for the creation of this blog. When I learned that I was pregnant, I frantically scoured the Internet for any information concerning the pregnant amputee. I came up with no substantial information or help.
I felt as if I were the only pregnant amputee in the universe, and I felt alone. I vowed to share my experiences with others so that they wouldn't have to feel so isolated. Pregnancy is both an exciting and frightening time for any woman. When that woman is an amputee, the fears are compounded and intensified.
I never realized how weight fluctuations would affect the fit of my prosthetic. In many ways, this has become my motivation to maintain my weight. A mere ten pound gain, seen as an inconvenient nuisance for most, can make the socket feel tight as the limb is squeezed inside. Pinch cuts, sores and rubbing can all develop from an ill-fitting socket.
Weight gain during pregnancy is inevitable for most women. As my pregnancy progressed, I remember feeling as if my stump were a sausage stuffed into a small casing when I tried to put my prosthetic. I visited my prosthetist and a new (bigger) socket was made. He made the socket a tad larger than necessary to allow for increased weight gain. Initially I had to wear socks with my "pregnancy leg," but as my size increased, the socks decreased. At the end of my pregnancy I was wearing a leg which fit perfectly.
I remember waking up one morning and realizing that I could no longer bend over to pick up my liner. I started keeping my liners on a post next to the bed, within arms reach. I was careful to make sure that my prosthetic didn't fall over during the night. If it did I was forced to perform acrobatic feats in order to upright it.
Because of my pregnant belly, it took me upwards of 5 minutes to don my leg in the morning. I stopped drinking at about 6 every evening because I knew that once I took my leg off, I wouldn't want to put it back on to use the bathroom. When I did have to get up in the middle of the night, I typically crawled.
During labor, it is typically left to the amputee as to whether or not she wants to wear the prosthetic. I chose not to wear my leg during delivery. I knew that childbirth was going to be messy with amniotic fluid and blood spewing everywhere. I didn't want to risk getting those secretions on my prosthetic or my liner. I took off my leg when I received my epidural and I did not put it back on until Robby was born. I have never regretted taking my leg off.
Scott stayed with me throughout the delivery. At my request, he stayed on my prosthetic side and held my "little leg." Like most amputees, I have sensitive spots on my limb where the nerves were buried during my amputation. Scott knows how to avoid the sensitive and painful areas. I simply didn't trust the Labor and Delivery nurse with my stump for fear that she would grab on a "nervy" area.
For a few days after Robby was born, I experienced an influx of phantom and nerve pain. Apparently this is a normal reaction for an amputee. It would have helped me if I had known to expect the pain in my limb which is why I mention it now. I was told that it would fade within a few days. At the time I didn't believe my doctor, but he was correct. Eventually the pain subsided and my leg felt normal again.
I also wish that I had known that the pregnant amputee is prone to developing bone spurs on the residual limb. The hormonal changes and increased calcium, combined with extra weight demands within the socket create a perfect ground for the spurs to grow. Six weeks after Robby was born I was in the operating room to get the bone spur removed. A bit of a bummer having surgery so soon after childbirth, but the recovery was quick and I was happy to release the responsibility for midnight feedings to others for a few days.
I learned that, despite my fears, there were few unique characteristics to my pregnancy because of my limb loss. I had to work closely with my prosthetist to develop a socket which could accommodate my increased size, and I had make my own adjustments so that I could put on my prosthetic. I spent so much time during my pregnancy fretting about how to manage all of the changes as an amputee, I wish I had enjoyed the experience more instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong. Then again, I suppose that all women spend most of the 9 months worrying their way through their first pregnancy. My fears might have been unique, but the worrying is universal.
- I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.