A Mother Who Can’t Pick Up Her Child

Sarah Erdreich shares how her chronic pain has made parenting nearly impossible:

My daughter is healthy and happy, but my own health has gotten much worse. The early months of changing diapers and clothes, nursing, and lifting her in and out of her crib caused irreparable damage to my wrist and shoulders. I can’t push her stroller much farther than the three blocks between home and day care. I can’t dress her by myself, or tie her shoes. I can’t make the appropriate hand motions to accompany “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” write out the alphabet, or brush her hair. But all that feels like mere window dressing for what I really can’t do: feel at all confident that I can take care of my child alone for more than an hour. On the few occasions that I’ve had to, the time passed in a blur that left me incapacitated and in tears. …

If I had known how tough this would be before getting pregnant, would I have made the same choice? I want to say yes without hesitation or qualification, but that’s not the honest answer. The honest answer is, I don’t know. I love my daughter. That has never been in doubt. But I hate what a toxic combination motherhood and chronic pain are for me. Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to say this: My daughter will never have siblings. Both my husband and I do, and I wish that she could know what that relationship is like. But raising another child would take a much greater toll on my health than I am willing to accept.