Birth Diaries: 'Just Hours After Giving Birth To My Son, I Lost My Ability To Walk'

'At first I felt a bit stiff, but I had just given birth so it was expected.'

In HuffPost Birth Diaries we hear the extraordinary stories of the everyday miracle of birth. This week, Louise Jordan, 38, shares her story. If you’d like to share yours, email amy.packham@huffpost.com.

My waters broke late morning. Well, they semi-broke, I wasn’t entirely sure if they had or not. Doctors at the hospital were worried I might have meconium in my waters, so I was induced pretty quickly after arriving at the hospital. The midwives told me an induction was the most painful way to give birth. Brilliant.

They told me when to push, when to stop. They told me when to breathe, and when to pant. It was all very quick and after 30 minutes of pushing, my son, Austin, was in my arms. That’s a bit of an anti-climax to my birth story, I know, because everything went swimmingly until after the birth.

Later that day, I got up, had a shower, and moved onto the ward, no problem. In the afternoon I remember going to the loo and feeling a bit stiff – but I’d just given birth so it was expected. It was in the middle of the night, when I swung my legs out of bed to get up, that I realised something was wrong. I couldn’t move, and the pain when I moved my legs was excruciating.

I couldn’t swing them back in – I felt like I was paralysed.

I assumed it would pass, like a cramp or something. A nurse walked past doing the rounds, so I asked for help and she got me back into bed. I remember lying down, with my son in the cot next to me, wondering what to do. I couldn’t twist to reach Austin and every time I tried, I got an intense, shooting pain in my hips.

At that point I started to panic. I was attached to a heart monitor, so the alarms started going off – I’m assuming because my heart rate was increasing. Nurses rushed over, and moved me to a high-dependency unit. They didn’t know what was wrong. I couldn’t go to the loo, and I couldn’t look after my son.

Over the next few days I had every test under the sun. Scans, X-rays, you name it. I had to keep being transferred to different beds to move to another ward, and I was in so much pain each time. All the midwives were fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but I just wanted to be well and at home with my baby.

A consultant came round and told us we needed to get physio involved. I couldn’t make it down to the physio department in the hospital from upstairs in the maternity ward. Unsure of what it was, they told me I needed to try and start walking – bit by bit.

I was sick of it, I just wanted to go home, but they said I wouldn’t be able to until I could walk up and down the stairs. Slowly, with the physio team, things started to get better. I asked them to wheel me to the stairs a week later and – with three people helping – managed to go up and down the stairs.

Once I’d accomplished that, they sent me home with crutches and I was then monitored through my health visitor. At my six-week check, doctors suspected it was an infection in the hip bone, but nothing was ever confirmed.

In those few weeks after returning home, I had to teach myself to walk again. The district nurse would come round and check on me, but it was me who really put the effort in to push myself.

I would carry Austin in a pouch on my front and I practised every day, moving step by step. At the time, we had a small galley kitchen and I would take one step to the other side, gradually building myself up. And the next day two steps. Then three. I could tell each day that things were improving.

My husband had to go back to work, but would help me in the evenings getting in and out the bath, up and down the stairs. I was lucky my parents live close – and they came over every single day to help.

It got better. Slowly. I went out for walks and leaned on the buggy if I needed a break, making sure a friend was with me to monitor. After four weeks, I was able to walk again. After a couple of months, I was pretty much back to normal – teaching fitness classes – although to this day I still get aches in my hip a bit if I stand for long periods of time.

Two months later, the hospital got in contact to ask how I was doing and couldn’t believe I was back to teaching fitness. Even I couldn’t believe it.

It gave me a new perspective though, not being able to walk. It made me realise things can be taken away from you at any point. I was inspired to set up a fitness brand, BoostFit, that works with women and charities and gives back a lot more – rather than going back to teach my usual classes.

As they say, it all worked out in the end.

My birth advice?

Trust your instincts. So many people will love to tell you how amazing and beautiful birth is and how you should love every second, and others tell you a horror story. Your story will be you story.

As told to Amy Packham.