When I found out I was pregnant, I was prepared for a variety of symptoms, ranging from terrible to mildly fun. Morning nausea? Awful. Craving and getting to eat all the ice cream I want? Sign me up.
Somewhat disappointingly, I never really got experience those extreme pregnancy symptoms you see in the movies. Unfortunately, many of the ones I did go through have yet to go away, even though it's been over two years since I've given birth.
Sure, those stretch marks may have permanently fixed themselves on my stomach, but what I'm talking about was and is more internal and debilitating: carpal tunnel syndrome.
I was completely unaware that it's common to get carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy in the first place, and when I developed it, never before had I ever experienced such a severe pain in my hands.
Around month five, I really started to pop and experience a lot of swelling. That swelling, besides being ghastly and preventing me from sleeping or wearing normal shoes, was responsible for pinching the median nerve in my wrist, which caused tingling and painful numbness in my right hand during writing and other detail-heavy tasks like braiding or sewing. Within a matter of weeks, the pain became practically constant, getting excruciating at night. Then, my left hand eventually decided to get on the pain train as well.
For the remaining months of my pregnancy, I had to walk around with braces on my wrists. Although these eyesores mitigated some of the pain during the day, at night, I was up every hour or so, feeling like my hands were on fire.
Thankfully, the birth of my son helped the carpal tunnel somewhat. Within a couple of weeks of his birth, I didn't need the braces anymore, and I regained most of my dexterity. However, I have experienced flare-ups in my right hand every day since.
Anytime I use my hands consistently, I can feel my pinky and ring fingers slowly going numb, sometimes lasting for hours. Even using the computer to type this article has triggered it, and the pain and numbing will only stop once I've been finished typing for a while.
Certainly my symptoms are better now than when I was pregnant, but the possibility of developing carpal tunnel was still something I wish I had known about.
If I ever get pregnant again, it's something I will tell the doctor about right away so that we can discuss preventative measures such as changing my diet, attending physical therapy and acupuncture, and getting massages. Instead of letting it surprise me, I'm going to get a jump on it.