Archive for February, 2012

Due Date

Today, February 29th, we are afforded an extra day that only comes around once every four years!  Just so happens that the last time February 29th occurred, it was my due date.

As a first time pregnant woman, the due date was extremely important to me.  Even though it is a “guess” having a date to hang onto during those last few weeks of pregnancy was crucial to getting through the swollen ankles, sleepless nights, and balloon like feeling my body was experiencing.

However, as most of you know from reading my story, my daughter was not born on her due date, not a week after, not even 8,9,10, or 11 days after.

At 10 days post-dates, I was induced.  At 12 days post-dates, I had her. 

So, my advice to all pregnant ladies…..don’t count on the due date being the day you birth your little one. 🙂

And, my advice to all who know pregnant ladies who are going past their due date….don’t keep asking her when she is going to have the baby…by asking this you are NOT adding pressure to her cervix, but you are adding stress to her overloaded mind.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Anticipation

A huge part of PTSD is anticipatory anxiety.  This is a diagnosis that entails the anticipation of a trigger being so bothersome that one avoids and panics over situations that may or may not happen in the future (but to the person seem imminent).

I am finally able to say that I am rid of my anticipatory anxiety. How do I know this? Because this is what used to happen…

Prior to this year, each time the calendar would flip to February, I would begin to obsessively fret over the upcoming anniversary of the birth trauma.  March 12, my daughter’s birthday AND my worst nightmare.  March 12…the build up was agonizingly terrifying.  Extreme nightmares, numerous panic attacks, involuntary facial tics, uncontrollable emotions, just to name a few of the PTSD symptoms exacerbated with anticipatory anxiety.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to be internally fighting for control of my triggers (and losing) while trying to put on a happy face for my family.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to cry all morning, grieving my loss, wallowing in my situation, and then trying to act functional when she blew out her candles later in the day.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to remember how far I had to go to get back to “normal” and reflect on the fact that I was not where I want to be.

This year-it’s time to celebrate.  My daughter will be 4.  I am well.  Let’s blow out those candles and make a wish!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My “Birth Position”

So, contrary to the name of this post, I’m not here to talk about the various positions in which you actually can GIVE birth, but I would like to talk about my position ON birth.

Even though MY personal experiences cause me to champion for an elective c-section birth in a hospital with lots of numbing drugs, I fully support others positions to have a non-medicated, home, vaginal birth-or something anywhere in between.

My birth position is that women should have the choice, prenatally, and during birth, to have their babies the way that they want to have their babies while preserving the mother’s health and the child’s health through a balance of the mother’s informed wishes and competent medical professional opinion.

My birth position is that women should have ALL of the information-risks/benefits on all aspects of birth prior to the actual birth of their child.  This information should be given freely and without judgement.  A mother’s birth plan should not be judged by the competent medical professional they are working with.

My birth position is that wherever the mother decides to give birth to her child, she is surrounded by competent professionals that both can support her position AND give her the medical information necessary if emergencies arise.

I recognize that birth trauma can arise from hospital births, home births, non-medicated births, medicated births,medically assisted births, and anything else that causes the mother to feel helpless and full of fear. (remember, it’s in the eye of the beholder.)  It is not up to me to tell another which birth would be less traumatizing, it’s only up to me to share MY story and help other mothers with birth trauma explore the options right for them.

So, there’s my position ON birth.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Come ON Dora!

Yesterday, I sat down and watched an episode of “Dora the Explorer” with my daughter in which Dora was going to become “a big sister!”  (No significance for my own personal life right now, just happened to be the next episode in the netflix queue.)

Anyways, the story starts out by Dora’s papa rushing to tell Dora to “come home right away, because Mama is going to have the baby.”  Home?  Come ON Dora, home?  How come Dora isn’t going to visit Mama at the hospital?  How come Mama has to have a homebirth?

Dora, of course, needs to follow her map to find her home.  She needs to go through the Spooky forest and the Nut farm.  (At least spooky and nutty somewhat describe my views of this episode)

When Dora arrives home, she finds ALL of her extended family there.  She then goes into her parents bedroom to find her perfectly poised mother sitting up in bed.  Come ON Dora, perfectly poised?  How come Mama doesn’t look like she has just gone through the wringer?

When Dora looks at the bassinet, she finds, not one baby, but twins!  Come ON Dora, twins?  A homebirth AND a perfectly poised mother seconds after a twin birth?

Come ON Dora.  Let’s get real here.  In no way am I saying that I want a children’s show to be graphically displaying the perils of childbirth, however, it would be nice if this show could somewhat emulate what becoming a big sister will be like for my daughter.  (when the time comes)

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Merely Surviving

Often, I look back at the time when I was truly engaged fully with PTSD.  This time was not a happy time for me.  This time was not a productive time for me.  This time was not a time to thrive.  I was merely surviving.

Today, I picked up my daughter’s preschool pictures.  This caused me to reflect upon the amount of professional pictures I have had done of her since her birth.  hmmmmm, three times, maybe?  Let me just say, had I not been traumatized, had I not been merely “surviving” I would have had the birth, 3 month, 6 month, 1 year, 2 year, 3 year pictures.  I would have had the Christmas shots, the birthday shots, the family shots. I would have picked out the outfits, set up the appointments, agonized over which delightful picture to choose, etc.

I missed out.  To tell you the truth, I don’t know how I pulled together 3 times at a professional studio.  There are so many things that I missed the boat on during my time with PTSD, because I was merely surviving.  Does this make me sad? Absolutely!  Does this make me mad? You bet!  Do I feel guilty? NO. (This answer is achieved through hours and hours of therapy)

As the 4 year anniversary of my trauma approaches, I know that I am now in a place where I can thrive, not merely survive.  Hey, maybe I will even get in a picture with her?  We need a good family photo 🙂

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

Vagina Monologues

“My Vagina, My Vagina, Me.”

This was the refrain that the audience engaged in throughout the show “The Vagina Monologues.”  An excellent, thought provoking, and barrier crashing endeavor, “The Vagina Monologues” strives to tear down the shame, stigma, and embarrassment surrounding violence against women. (and their vaginas)

It was probably about 8 years ago now since I sat in on this performance, but I can still remember the awkwardness of the word “vagina” coming out of my mouth.  Even more awkward, was listening to my boyfriend (now husband) saying over and over “my vagina, my vagina, me” throughout the show.

I’ve come a long way.  I can not only say vagina, I can talk about vaginas, blog about vaginas, and fight for vaginas!

MY VAGINA, MY VAGINA, ME!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

Sunny Side Up

While looking at my medical records, I have made important mental notes about terminology with which I wish to impart my knowledge of in an effort to understand the causes of my trauma, the nature of my trauma, and the results of my trauma.

My daughter presented as occiput posterior.  Commonly known as “sunny-side up,” this presentation of the baby is when the baby is face down but facing your front.  The baby’s back of the head, the occipital bone, is forced against the mother’s tailbone. You can read more here: http://www.babycenter.com/0_posterior-position_1454005.bc?page=1

Sunny-Side Up is not an ideal way to birth your child.  Unfortunately, the care I received during labor was not ideal either, thus compounding a sunny-side up situation.  My daughter was determined to be sunny-side up, yet I was still encouraged to push on for 3 hours, while she was in this position. Labor with a sunny-side up child is pure torture.  Instead of having some semblance or relief in-between contractions, it was actually worse between because that is where my daughter’s unrelenting head met my (now) relenting tailbone.  My hospital records indicate my doctor was out of the room during this time (in the rest area-according to my mother).  After 3 hours of the most painful pushing, the doctor tried to manually turn her by forcing both of her hands into me and twisting. (didn’t work).  Through the use of forceps, my daughter was then delivered.

The consolation…the doctor told me “you should add a pound for a sunny-side up baby, because that is what it feels like you just pushed out.”  So, does 8 pounds 14 ounces get to equal 9 pounds 14 ounces?  I don’t know if this was supposed to make me feel proud or angry at the fact that I should have OBVIOUSLY had a c-section.

Although there is nothing funny about sunny-side up positioning or traumatic childbirth, the following article from Jezebel has an excellent section about the sunny-side up experience in labor.  You can read it here: http://jezebel.com/5867731/natural-childbirth-the-best-thing-i-ever-failed-at?tag=mother-load. 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Story Toppers

About three times a week I attend a water aerobics class.  Because this class is during the day, I find the average age of the clientele in this class to be about 65.  (But, boy, these Grandmas can move!).  Because of the geriatric nature of my watery exercise regimen, I am often bombarded with the phrase “Oh, but you don’t have to worry about that, YET!” while engaged in a social discussion regarding “senior” medical matters prior to or post workout.

One of the favorite topics of discussion seems to be the colonoscopy.  Phrases and snippets addressed to me include: “So and so isn’t hear today, she’s preparing for her colonoscopy…you just wait till that…” “Ughh, I hate the prep work, you’re so lucky you’re young.”

Little do these ladies know, a colonoscopy is the least of my worries.  I think I could wow them all with the amount of enemas I have needed to do, the amount of “awake” rectal testing I’ve engaged in, and the fact that I lost my anal wink at age 27 due to the stress of childbirth.

But the story that tops them all, the story that makes a colonoscopy look like a trip to Disney World, is the defecography.  I never even knew a test like this existed.  To my great “delight” I had the necessary procedure when trying to determine the exact nature of my leaking sphincter. 

Step 1-Give yourself two enemas at home.

Step 2- Drink a glass of Barium (i.e. liquid sidewalk chalk) without promptly throwing it up

Step 3-Have a catheter placed to drain you of all urine

Step 4- Flip over, have a device that looks very similar to a caulk gun push a caulk like substance up your rectum

Step 5- Climb up a ladder onto a toilet bowl that is placed in the center of the room

Step 6-Try to relax while two people hold in place 2 x-ray plates around your body

Step 7-Poop out the substance (this is especially lovely with your audience)

Step 8- Enjoy the video recording of your bowel movement for years to come!

Top that, Grandma.  (Just kidding, I love Grandmas)  And, as unpleasant as this test was, it WAS necessary, helpful, and diagnostic.  It also gives me a story topper to whip out during my aqua aerobics class, but, maybe, I’ll just keep it to my blog.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

The “F” word(s)

Two words you often hear in conjunction with PTSD are fight or flight.  These two “f” words are powerful indicators of the physiological response that one experiences while being triggered. For me, this response was caused by a myriad of triggers, and the involuntary response of fight or flight proved devastating each and every time.

Fight or Flight.  Your body’s response to adrenaline, your body’s response to a perceived “true” danger that is now physiologically circuited in your body system as if it were truly happening then and now.  Believe me when I say this, even if I wanted to “talk” myself out of this response, the involuntary nature of the body would not allow me to.  When you experience trauma, that trauma can be caught in your neural networks, creating a pathway of a fight or flight response whenever your body perceives, (a trigger), the trauma.

My fight or flight response generally consisted of an immediate panic attack, complete with screaming, and huddling to the floor in a fetal position.  The nature of my response included fight (the panic), flight (the dropping to the floor), and another “f” word I would like to introduce as “Freeze.”  The arrest of all “sensible” activity whilst being triggered caused the “freeze” component of my life.  The inability to do more at that time, the inability to pull out of it, the inability to move forward.

Other “F” words I can associate with PTSD….frustrating, friendless, f***Kd

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

6 months

As of this past weekend, I have had my Interstim implant in for 6 months!  It is amazing how my life has been completely turned around for the last half a year.

The decision to have the implant was really a no-brainer.  I had exhausted the other “non-surgical” routes with little success.  The non-surgical routes of exercise, diet, and physical therapy are all components that serve to strengthen my Interstim now, but did little to appease the nerve function that I lacked prior to the implant.

Just for reference, the surgical route prior to Interstim was a scary prospect.  Before Interstim, my choice was to have my sphincter cut, then sewn back together tighter….repeat surgery every 5 years.  The prognosis of a successful surgery was limited, and there was a very real chance that more harm could be done.

With the sphincter cutting surgery as my only option, you can imagine my relief when my rectal surgeon recommended Interstim.  The surgery itself is low risk, and the prognosis of success is pretty high.  There was no hesitation for me to embark on this journey 6 months ago, and I cannot wait to see where it leads me!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

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