I just wanted to share my story.
I just had my first baby on Thanksgiving of 2017. I experienced numbness on my upper right thigh from childbirth. I believe it was either from the epidural or my positioning during childbirth. The numbness began right before the pushing phase of my labor after 4-6 hours of contractions--I received an epidural during the beginning of my contractions because I was induced (I did not want to be but that is another story).
The numbness in my upper right thigh, beginning during the pushing phase of my labor, caused a complete lack of sensation in my thigh and inability to lift my left leg. My doula and the nurse had to hold my numb leg throughout the entire pushing phase of my labor.
The inability to feel and lift my left leg continued for 5 weeks after my labor. During that time, my range of motion was extremely limited. The effects were so bad that it involved me falling multiple times at home during the first 5 weeks. I would step down with my left leg at a certain angle and due to complete loss of sensation, fall down hard. My last fall was the worst and I broke my toes because I fell on my toes twisted in a 90 degree angle. It was so incredibly painful for 2 weeks and I had to visit the podiatrist for a leg brace.
I was scared to hold my baby because I would fall without warning. Walking up and down stairs, or even a single raised step, required assistance from another person. I could not carry much.
However, I am in my 6th week of pregnancy and I can finally FINALLY lift up my left leg. I am not 100% recovered but I would say I am 70% there. But during the past 5 weeks, I felt completely helpless and did not know when or if I would ever regain sensation back in my thigh and be able to raise my leg, walk normally or hold my baby without fear.
I have read from forums that some women regain sensation a month, 3 months or even up to a year after childbirth. I also read that many women received the same advice I received from the doctors at the hospital after becoming aware of this issue. The advice is to go the neurologist, get a bunch of (likely expensive) tests done, and then get referred to a physical therapist. I combed through the internet for women with similar stories to mine and decided to forgo this route since I knew what the neurologist would have told me--that I had "temporal nerve damage" and then refer me to a physical therapist. I did not want to waste my time, especially during the newborn stage of my baby's life where I was too consumed with breastfeeding, my baby having jaundice, and generally taking care of the baby.
I am writing this so other women with the same issue as I had with this temporal nerve damage will have some information to make informed decisions on how to proceed. I want to let you know:
1. I eventually did regain 70% of sensation in my leg 6 weeks after my delivery date. This seems to be either average or on the short side upon my review of other women's stories on forums.
2. I did feel despair and did not feel I could do much. All I could do was gradually build up strength by doing 10 squats per day 3 days a week (but this is not a strict guideline and I am not even sure if it was the squats that helped me regain sensation).
3. I do not think it is a good idea to hold your baby while you have temporal nerve damage and/or if you have numbness in your thighs/legs because each time I fell badly, I was walking in my hallway or room, holding nothing and it came out of nowhere. There were no extenuating circumstances so the message is that during this time, you need to reach out to your parents, your family, your SO, your friends or nanny to carry the baby because any one of those falls could have been with the baby and I believe it may have been fatal. It is just not worth it. I was wrecked with guilt because I still carried my baby (up until I broke my toes, which was the last straw and put the fear of God in me) around the house because I wanted to take care of her. Looking back, that was a silly, if not stupid decision to make.
4. I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice, but I do not think it is necessary to go to the neurologist just to have them diagnose you with "temporal nerve damage" if your symptoms sound like mine and so many of these women because you have enough going on during the first month of your newborn's life. But I have to say the normal caveat that everyone says--"Go to your doctor if you experience issues."
5. My husband thought we could sue the hospital for this happening to me, well bad news, the epidural waiver specifically lists temporal nerve damage and numbness in your leg as something you must waive before receiving an epidural.
6. Knowing what I know now about my temporal nerve damage and all the trouble it caused me, I still would have gotten an epidural because the forced induction made my contractions unbearable. However, I am saying this now because I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have read that women who have not regained sensation even a year after childbirth or still feel weak. I may belong in the latter category. If I do belong in the latter category, I feel that receiving the epidural was not worth it.
You have no idea how important your legs are until you lose the ability to use your legs in its entirety. Not being able to move around easily, especially with a newborn, and being unable to take care of myself has just been the worst.
In conclusion, I am sharing my story so the women (and their partners) reading this have more information about this issue, and to let you all know that there is hope. It may feel hopeless and especially frustrating in the first weeks after giving birth when you need your legs the most to take care of your newborn. At least for me, I regained sensation and feel like my leg is slowly getting better. The last 30% may take another month or two. Fingers crossed but 70% is good enough for me at this point, especially compared to the 0% that I was feeling for the initial 5 weeks.
Good luck ladies.
It is now January 2018.