If you’ve never experienced baby magic, or scoffed at the idea, I’m here to tell you the effect is real. I felt the magic in December, about six weeks after my surgery, and will never forget how it relieved my pain.
Recovering from major surgery is not a fun endeavor and it takes a long time. Aside from staying well-hydrated and rested, my most important task was to avoid pain. My surgeon said, you can’t have pain because it will interfere with your sleep; and if you don’t sleep you won’t heal. Sleep is when the healing happens.
So I created a regimen of taking extra-strength Tylenol four times a day and stuck to it. I was told not to wait until the pain flares up, but to anticipate the pain and head it off at the pass.
And pain, well, I had in quantities. It was this referred shoulder pain that first alerted me that something was wrong. I’m talking sharp, shooting pain on the top of both my shoulders that made it difficult to use my arms. That pain was bizarre, but after my abdominal pain started, I knew they were connected somehow. In fact, my first Emergency Room visit was over this referred pain. It was horrible.
Then there was the abdominal pain I felt as my newly stitched-together colon was learning how to do its business. Eating small amounts of soft foods was still a challenge for my poor system and I could feel my intestines trying like champs to pass my meals.
I also had pain in my upper thighs and my back. There were times, in addition to taking Tylenol, I used a hot pad to soften my screaming muscles.
Pain had become my silent, but annoying friend.
By the time the baby arrived, I had started chemo and had been drugged for a week. Immediately following the removal of the infusion bottle, five days before Christmas, my intestines went crazy. My bowls acted like a washing machine on the spin cycle. Back and forth the waste flushed around as if there were no tubes enclosing them. At one point I imagine the excrement flowing freely among my organs, like waves washing in and out. This symptom laid me out for two days.
Later that week, I vomited after dinner and thought, boy did I overeat. I was miserable for two days prior to Christmas. And Christmas Eve was when our daughter, her husband, and baby were due to arrive! The house needed to be put in order and cleaned. And the suspicious rug needed to be 86’d. If it was emitting toxic dust then I didn’t want my grandson breathing around it.
We weren’t even sure the little family would make it from DC because a huge snowstorm was due to hit over the holiday was just getting started on the east coast. They did get out of DC, but they had to hustle to make their connection in Toronto, and wonder of wonders, the flight left in reasonable time. Miraculously, at 11:30 on Christmas Eve, they walked in while I was still prone on the couch, watching White Christmas.
And there was the baby. 1 year-old Ryan Soren shone like a golden light in our apartment, his blond hair standing on end like a mini Boris Johnston, who didn’t enjoy the journey but liked the destination. He walked around with Frankenstein arms, waving the tv remote control, reaching for ornaments on the Christmas tree, radiant in his enthusiasm and desperation to touch the kitties. I was totally delighted.
I don’t remember if I took pain killers before bed that night but I want to say no. I was trying to wean myself, but the previous night’s barfing might have been a prompt.
Next day, on Christmas, little Soren looked super cute in his Christmas-themed pyjamas as he opened presents of yet more cute baby clothes. He was like a Christmas present on his own, why didn’t he just open himself? Still, the kitties wanted no part of him, no matter how much love and desire he threw at them. And I couldn’t get enough.
I spent the whole day feeling grateful to have this whirling dervish in my life. And, that my daughter is so happy with her baby, and with her husband. And, that they flew all the across the continent to see me, the post-surgical cancer patient, during the biggest Christmas snowstorm of this century. I felt so lucky to have these people with me on the schmatziest holiday on the calendar.
I hate the word, “blessed” but now I feel cornered to use it. I felt blessed.
That night, after everyone returned to their AirBnb, I got into bed and laid there for a while, thinking, what a beautiful day it was. So easy, so relaxed. The baby went down early and slept long while we dined, allowing us the ability to hang out and talk like adults. That’s how good he is. A totally chill baby.
And as I lay there revisiting my beautiful Christmas Day, I stared at my bare legs and had a sudden realization: I had no pain in my body. Where was the new pain in my thighs, the varied pain I still feel in my abdomen, the back pain, and most astounding of all, that burning pain in my shoulders. It was gone, kaput, AWOL! I felt no physical discomfort at all. And, I couldn’t remember when it went away.
This was bizarre. In 48 hours I went from being sick to my stomach to enjoying total physical comfort. Did the munchkin sprinkle healing fairy dust to make me well? Did the Christmas spirit fill me up so much it pushed out the pain? Christmas miracle or just a coinkydink? Who knows, but that’s what happened.
My abdominal pain still comes and goes, but the other pains have not been felt since Christmas.
I’m just going to chalk it up to baby magic.