I Feel Your Pain?

August 26, 2008
Have you ever heard of the phenomenon of “sympathy pain” before? Most people if they have heard of it, more than likely associate it with the idea ,of a man experiencing some sort of pain that mirrors that of his pregnant partner. In my mind though, I’ve always viewed this notion as a myth.Probably because I see men ,as just larger versions of your typical attention starved toddler,who kicks and screams to get their way. So the act of them having sympathy pains,I see as a clever way for them to act up and regain the attention of their female counterpart. This theory has always made perfect sense to me,until yesterday when my daughter,Sydney went in to have surgery.

Sydney was born with a tiny pin like hole in her neck. The cause of the hole, had been explained to me since her birth,as something that happens sometimes within the first couple weeks after conception,when you are still in an embryonic state. As an embryo you are made up of tons of little holes that either close up over time or become one of many different openings in your body (i.e mouth, nose ,ears,etc.) In Sydney’s case, one of the little holes just didn’t close up. Her doctor over the years has never shown concern over the hole , he’d check it out a little during routine physicals and send us on our way with a clean bill of health. But the last time we went to see him, he noticed that the hole had some fluid leaking out of it and promptly set up an appointment for her to see a specialist. The specialist said he had see this often and that he could just go in and track the hole to see where it led to and tie it off, and PRESTO!, the problem would be solved.

It sounded simple enough,so we scheduled the surgery ,under much protest on Sydney’s part. She was scared, having never been put under anesthesia before she feared she wouldn’t wake up again,which I think is very understandable. Unfortunately the need for the surgery had to take precedence over her fear ,so I have spent the last couple of weeks soothing her surgery anxiety and at the same time trying to prepare myself for something I knew would leave me in quite a panicked state. I hate it when any one of my babies is distressed, any injury to my children whether it be emotional or physical tend to make the momma bear in me come out and I instantly become aggressively protective. I knew that in this situation though, my protective nature had to take a different form than usual. I still needed to be nurturing ,but more of a calm and confident type,and not so much like a crazy grizzly bear. Calm though, doesn’t come easily for me especially when I find myself in a situation where I don’t have control.So I had my doubts on how I was going to keep my own nervousness in check. Yesterday before the surgery though, I amazed myself at how I was able to put all my anxieties aside and project an image of relaxed motherly calm for my child. I think my metamorphose did wonders for her too.She was incredibly calm and did a fantastic job of being a model patient through all the pokes and prods. She came through the whole procedure with flying colors.

After the surgery,we got to see her right away in the recovery room.While sitting there with her waiting for clearance to leave ,something strange started happening to me. I began to feel an excruciating pain in my neck,as if someone had just stabbed me with an icepick. I tried to ignore it, but it hurt so bad my neck started to throb.Then I started tasting the gas they had given her in my own mouth. I had no idea what was happening to me,but I didn’t freak out. I just tried to brush it off, keep it to myself, and tend to her. Which I did ,but all day long I would continue sporadically throughout the day, having a strange taste in my mouth and pains in my own neck, right at the site of her incision.

The whole thing, weirded me out so much, I got up this morning, and looked up what happened to me on the Internet. I needed to know, if I am a bigger freak than was already determined. The information I found was quite interesting and left me thinking, I experienced a case of mirror touch synesthesia with my child ,and regardless of whether this experience, is just another thing to add to my freak list or not, I’ve decided to view it as a good thing,no matter how bad it hurt.



  1. Oooer …… how very weird. Still, you’re both OK now.
    As far as the sympathetic pains are concerned , I’ve had two children and hardly felt a thing …… missed some things I wanted to watch on telly ….. but it wasn’t too painful for me ………. the conception however! …… ouch!!!

  2. Yes,DP…we are both doing much better today.
    As for you not feeling much empathy for your wife birthing your children….I don’t believe I would tell her that…..It could be painful!!

  3. I’m very glad your daughter came through ok. Children are so resilient.

    I think sympathy pain is common in many people. When I see, say…a video of someone falling feet first from a long distance. I always feel a twinge, or weird flash of one sensation or another in my feet and shins.

    I think the human mind does this on purpose. It serves as a learning experience, without having to actually participate in the act.

    I think effects are doubled in women. Women are after all, the true protectors, and life blood of human kind. Your role is severely underestimated in my opinion.

    Men would be lost, not to mention doomed to extinction without you.

  4. Erebus,your comment was absolutely beautiful.
    Although I have to disagree with you ,I don’t believe that sympathy pain is common. Unfortunately we live in a very selfish society ,that doesn’t view empathy as a valuable asset.So if you can feel pain for others, consider yourself blessed.

  5. Weird, but definitely cool.

  6. I’m so glad she came through well.

    As for that pain ~ I completely KNOW what you mean. Seriously.

    It’s happened SEVERAL times over the years for me, many actually…. um, tons?!

    Last one was my son playing football, I was watching my *little* guy (um, 15 6’1″ 220LBS) on the line and rootin’ for him, he got hit and before I could even THINK – I was down on my knees gasping for air. So was he. It was instantanious. The football team parents are STILL talking about it. Not in a good way either, they think I’m nutty.

    Wait, maybe I am. LOL But it happened if folks like it or not.

    Anyway, I get ya!

    Hugs, love and light!


  7. It is a little different ,Jeffrey Ellis.
    The more I have read up on it,they say the closer connection you have with that person the stronger you will feel the pain. So Monica ,it doesn’t mean you’re nutty at all. I think it means you’re a loving ,good mother.

  8. Thank you for sharing this. I too have experienced this and not only with family members.

  9. I’m glad I wrote about it too,Tony. It’s really interesting to hear that other people have experienced this phenomenon. They say it happens a lot to creative people. Which I think is pretty cool.

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