Mommy Thumb

So apparently I have Mommy Thumb. Yes, that’s actually a thing. Just another fun way your body might rebel against you, even after you’ve evicted your baby from your womb.

The medical term is De Quervain tendonitis – inflammation in the tendons that run from the thumb to the wrist. I self diagnosed myself after making an appointment with Dr. Google. Yep, I’m that good.

As many as 50% of new mothers suffer from Mommy Thumb, which can be caused by repetitive baby lifting and/or supporting a baby’s head and shoulders while breastfeeding. Side note – how did new parents ever survive before the Internet? I am on there at least 57 times a day investigating all kinds of baby-related things.

Anyway, I started icing my wrist, taking ibuprofen and trying to lift Isabelle the “correct” way and support her with pillows instead of my wrist when feeding her. Most of the information I read also recommended stopping the activity that is causing the pain, but I don’t really think Isabelle would appreciate it if I stopped picking her up or feeding her.

I think it’s getting better. At least it’s not getting worse. I really don’t want to resort to having to wear a brace – one of the other recommended treatments for Mommy Thumb. It would be really embarrassing when people asked, “What did you do to your hand?” and I had to respond that it was a breastfeeding injury.

And my left wrist isn’t the only thing that hurts. My right wrist hurts a smidge too (so I’m icing that one as well when I have time). My back and shoulders ache from hours of holding my baby when she refuses to be put down. My knees and big toes hurt from the special pivot-swing move I do when rocking Isabelle side-to-side in the bathroom with the vent fan on and the lights off because it’s the only thing that will calm her down when she’s freaking out.

I expected when I started running again that my body would ache as I dusted off muscles I hadn’t used in a long time. But I didn’t expect to be sore from taking care of my daughter. Of course, I am of “advanced maternal age,” so maybe this is par for the course when having a first child at age 35 and I just need to chalk it up to getting older.


Mommy Thumb be damned! Look at this face!

Mommy Thumb be damned! Look at this face!

But my bout with Mommy Thumb and other injuries got me thinking about sacrifice. About accepting – even embracing – discomfort or pain for a higher purpose.

Prior to being a mother, I experienced this through running. Sometimes the minor aches and pains following a difficult long run would be a sweet reminder of the effort, that I had worked hard and succeeded, that I was on the right path. Other times, the pain would be more severe – plantar fasciitis or a stress fracture that sidelined me for weeks or even months, putting training on hold and smashing race dreams. Still, it was always worth it. I loved running so much – because it centered me, transcended my worries and stress, and made me strong – that I accepted the hardship that came with it. I recognized that not every day would be easy, that sometimes even with the best laid training plans, my body would fail me, that I would face disappointment again and again.

Sometimes you hurt for the things that you love, for things that are more than worth it. Ten weeks into this motherhood gig, I am just starting to wrap my head around how much my life has changed and will continue to change. That Isabelle’s needs come before my own. That this tiny perfect girl is utterly dependent on her dad and me for her care and trusts us to protect her.

There is this amazing moment that happens sometimes when I pick Isabelle up when she is crying, and she instantly stops, teardrops still quivering on her eyelashes as she stares at me and sometimes even smiles. It’s as if she’s thinking, “It’s you. I knew you would come. I knew you would come take care of me.” She already knows me. She knows me.

That knowing pulls me and binds me to her like a powerful magnet. It lifts me up. It fills my heart. It gives me purpose. It strengthens my faith. It transcends everything – the sometimes never ending days, the fussy nights, the aches and pains.

Mommy Thumb certainly won’t be the last discomfort I face as a mother. In the years ahead, I know I will make sacrifices, I will hurt, I will doubt myself many times over. But it will always be worth it. And today, even if Mommy Thumb made my hand fall off, I would find a way to feed my daughter. For her, no matter what, I will always, always find a way.




  1. Grandmom
    July 8, 2013 / 2:33 pm

    Janice, another fantastic story. Isabelle is worth everything you have to go through. She is and absolute
    delight and so lucky to have you and Tim as parents. Both of you are wonderful with her. I did chuckle a lot while reading this. And her photo is adorable.
    Lots of love, Grandmom

  2. Debbie
    July 8, 2013 / 7:25 pm

    Hi Janice,
    Love the picture of Isabelle…..she is precious! Loved this entry and ADORED the last one (think I never got to comment) about birth and a marathon! I read it a few times. You right so well and I enjoy reading your work so much. Sure hope your Mommy Thumb gets totally better real soon. And…….I live by Dr. Google! I literally don’t know what I would do without him 🙂 Love to you, Tim and the little thumb wrecker!

  3. Debbie
    July 8, 2013 / 7:27 pm

    Oops! Looks like I should proof read…….you WRITE so well is what I meant…LOL

    • janice
      July 9, 2013 / 12:05 pm

      Thanks Grandmom and Debbie! And the thumb is starting to feel a little bit better.

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