Bells Palsy During Pregnancy

Photo-on-3-19-13-at-1.03-PM-3-150x150Certainly pregnancy is never a walk in the park, and mine was no worse than any other experience. It was actually a great pregnancy filled with time, pampering and happiness with my wonderful husband.

But, sadly there is a dark side for most mama-to-be, which is unique to each of us. My dark side came during my 7th-month, and was in the form of Bell’s Palsy.

Don’t know what Bell’s Palsy is? Bell’s is a dysfunction of the cranial facial nerve, which causes temporary paralysis. There are a million reasons why it happened to me, but likely it was a weakened immune system due to pressure on my body (when Iza was breach) in the middle of my pregnancy. The first day, I lost my ability to drink water, then by the end of the day, I couldn’t see out of my right eye. When I looked in the mirror it was as if an alien was staring back at me; my wrinkles on my forehead were gone, I couldn’t raise my lip, and my nose was suddenly tweaked to the side. My eyebrow didn’t raise, and I had a dull pain all along the backside of my right ear.

Over the course of the last 3-months of pregnancy, I had the unique experience of seeing people’s reactions to me. It was hard not to look. My family’s reaction was heartbreaking. Their reactions were in the form of their own contorted facial expressions of sadness and compassion, and I had to see what I looked like in their gasp’s and stares. The mirror was not my friend and I avoided photo opportunities. I tried to avoid people all together, but Kurt had several large art shows and I had to be present for them; stares and more uncomfortable moments. I also had to keep working and a huge job opportunity came up right at that time. White rooms with lots of light were the worst (since I couldn’t close my right eye), and art shows and hip office spaces love white.

It was a wild ride of emotions; and in hindsight I wish I had embraced my condition instead of resenting. It was a life experience which has provided me the ability to explore inner strength.

Photo-on-6-7-13-at-4.03-PM-2-150x150I have tried every form of alternative medicine possible, avoiding steroids and other Western medications while nursing. Acupuncture worked for brief moments. In the morning with Green Tea I can feel my right side of my face rise from the jolt, and in the evenings I can feel the same side droop from wine. There is still a dull and achy pain behind my right ear. I will always notice these things and they will never go away.

Some of the little things you wouldn’t think have bothered me: I will never blow bubbles or whistle again. I will not be able to make fishy faces with Iza when she makes them at me. I will never kiss Kurt squarely and I will never fully be able to smile or drink water out of the right side of my mouth. I will always struggle with my right eye and work extra hard to shut it each time I blink.
It has taken a lot for me to get here with my own acceptance and even be able to write this post, and it is still very raw.

18-months out, I am roughly at 85% where I was before pregnancy and I probably won’t improve further from here. Will I ever stare back at my new self and not miss the old one? Probably not, but hey – we all get older and ‘wiser,’ right? I always said that I was totally vein before and it was the Universe’s way of showing me that my life is no longer my own and knocking me off my high horse. I know I am extremely blessed; I am healthy, happy and can do most things with my baby girl (no blowing bubbles or whistling for me). The rest is just icing on the cake!