Archive for March, 2012

Bike Riding

The first time I was seen by a medical professional post birth trauma was 6 weeks later.  As I sat across from my OBGYN, (the same one who delivered me), she first calmly told me I was too bruised to examine.  She then proceeded to tell me about my “normal” delivery and my “normal” recovery and how it would just take time to get back to “normal.”  No mention of physical therapy, fecal incontinence surgery, PTSD treatment, just a condescending statement that “normalcy” would be achieved with time.  She then, offhandedly, remarked-“It’s not like you need to ever ride a bike again.”

WHAT?  Part of my “normal” recovery from my “normal” delivery would impact my ability to ride a bike?  I often think about this statement.  Was my OBGYN placing a thought in my head, a thought that I could reinforce with a nonchalance of “well, it’s not like I need to.”

Well, since then I have switched OBGYN’s, but the switch for the bike statement in my brain was not as easily achieved.  Until now.  I have found a bike seat that I am ready to try.  This bike seat eliminates pressure on the perineum area and claims to be both comfortable and functional for those with pelvic floor issues.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Sometimes, it’s scary

Sometimes, having a mental illness is scary.  For me, mental illness was scary.  Having a mental illness was frightening.  Navigating the path to getting better was downright terrifying.

Having a mental illness often alienates you from the supports you need the most.  Having a mental illness often cripples your ability to seek effective help without support.  A mental illness skews your mindset as to what is “normal,” healthy, and life affirming.

A mental illness makes life difficult.  Having a mental illness in our society is often seen as shameful, thus those suffering with mental illness are often stigmatized.

Having a mental illness is confusing and devastating.  People with mental illness are often alienated and unsupported.

Having a mental illness causes one to be misunderstood.  “She looks OK?” is a common refrain from those who do not truly understand the depth and pain one with a mental illness can experience.

Connecting mental illness as an outcome of childbirth is not easy.  Childbirth is often celebrated in American society as “the happiest day of your life.”  Because of this belief, it is difficult to connect the creation of postpartum mental illness with this time period in a parent’s life.

It is wonderful to begin to see the collective acceptance of society to some postpartum mental illness’.   It is important to keep the flow of information coming about postpartum mental illness in an effort to make all postpartum mental illness’ part of society’s collective knowledge.  Only then will resources, effective therapies, and society support be commonplace.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My Daughter’s Egg Tooth

So, my daughter is hatching chicks at preschool.  She’s patiently been watching the eggs in the incubator for the last 21 days, waiting for the chick to emerge.  Last night, while brushing her teeth, she told me all about the chicks’ egg tooth.  Apparently, the egg tooth on the chick is really on the beak, and it is what the chick uses to crack the egg. This crack appeared in the egg while she was at school.  Once cracked, the chick takes time to slowly push out of the egg over the next day.  My daughter was looking forward to seeing the emerged chick and broken shell next time she entered the classroom.

I could see the wheels spinning in her head as she processed her next question. “Mom, did I have an egg tooth?”  Before I could answer, she followed up, “Mom, did I crack you?”  Quickly followed by, “Mom, did I BREAK you?” Quickly followed by, “How did I get out?”

Now, of course I would not tell a 4-year-old about the perils of birth trauma, the horrific birth experience I endured, or my battered and broken body. I’m not even ready to tell her about how babies are born without any trauma. So, instead I said, “I love you. Of course you didn’t break me like a chicken shell. It’s time for bed.”

Like most 4 year olds, this redirection of conversation worked just fine, for now.  Eventually, I’ll tell her how babies are born, and much, much, much later, about birth trauma.

Right now, it’s fine with me if her understanding is limited to her egg tooth.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Women versus Women?

Lately, I have seen a lot written about “natural birthers” versus “hospital birthers.”  Women versus Women in a battle for who has a better birth plan, who has a better idea about how we should birth, who has a “safer” way to birth, who has an ideal way to birth.

Ladies, and it is mostly ladies-why are we fighting each other?  We are all looking for the same thing- the birth that is right for us.  As I have stated previously in my post on birth position,  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.

This US versus THEM phenomenon does not need to occur.  In fact, it is detrimental to women’s progress when we keep chipping away at each others’ choices and freedoms.  There is no need to impose your belief system on others as the only true way.  I hope that when people read my blog they realize that this is my opinion, my quest to educate women, their families, and the community about the very real physical and emotional ramifications of birth trauma.

As I have written before, 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.

It is when we reach a quagmire between two opposing groups that real progress stops.  Yes, natural birthers make valid points.  Yes, hospital birthers make valid points.  And, YES, people can educate themselves and make their own decision regarding their birth choices.  Let’s stop focusing on the birth and shed light on the issues that can result from any birth.  Issues like birth trauma, physical and emotional.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Are you a soldier?

When I mention my diagnosis of PTSD to those who don’t really know anything about my back story, I inevitability get the question, “are you a soldier?”  While it is true the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is most affiliated in the public realm with war and soldier responsibilities, it is NOT true that a diagnosis of PTSD can only stem from war.

Because PTSD is a complicated diagnosis, I would encourage you to read more about by clicking the following link:  http://www.mental-health-today.com/ptsd/dsm.htm  As always, remember that the trauma is in the eye of the beholder, thus creating situations for PTSD in virtually all aspects of life, not just war.

Unfortunately, even where PTSD is most affiliated in society’s collective mindset, questions about diagnosis, effective therapy, and successful outcomes still remain.  Because of the stigma attached to PTSD, and the politics surrounding “too many” diagnosed soldiers, often many of our brave men and women are undiagnosed and untreated.

My point is, society has a long way to go in understanding PTSD.  Even in the most connected realm of war and soldier’s PTSD, there still remains many gaps in both diagnosis and treatment.  There are incredibly enormous gaps of understanding PTSD in other areas of society, besides war.  I hope that PTSD, no matter where it stems from, can move into the collective forefront of society’s mindset in the near future.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

“Till it’s gone…”

So many times I have heard the phrase used, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”

This is especially true with trauma.  In my case, physically and emotionally.

Hindsight is 20/20.

If I could kiss my sphincter pre-trauma, I would.  Yes, I am suggesting that if you have the ability to go to the bathroom, if you don’t even have to think about it, then, kiss your ass.  Because, guess what, it does a GREAT job.  You don’t even have to tell it to do a good job.  You don’t even have to go to physical therapy, eat a modified diet, wear protective undergarments, consider surgery-because, it’s working for you.  And guess what-you don’t know what you got till it’s gone- so APPRECIATE it!

If I could kiss my brain pre-trauma, I would.  Yes, I am suggesting that if you don’t have any of your neural networks tied up in adrenaline laced triggers, if you don’t have confusion, agitation, blocked endorphin flow, then kiss your brain.  Because, guess what, it does a GREAT job.  You don’t even have to tell it to do a good job.  You don’t even have to go to endless hours of therapy-because, it’s working for you.  And guess what-you don’t know what you got till it’s gone- so APPRECIATE it!

So, that’s it.  I didn’t know what I had, until it wasn’t there anymore.  Even though the fall-out wasn’t fun, if you’re able to get something back-it’s a truly awesome feeling.  Although it will never be the same, I can modify the phrase by saying- “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone…but if you can get it back, the appreciation and joy you will feel is overwhelming.”

So, excuse me, I need to kiss my ass now.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My Spidey Senses

Remember the character Spiderman? He started off as a normal, average, guy.  But when Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider and achieves “spidey senses”- he transforms into something much more. 

In a way, I feel that a my trauma has given me a “spidey sense.”  That ability, that sense, to see that my birth situation was not entirely right, was not entirely safe, was suspicious.

Had the trauma not occurred, my research, and feelings of advocacy on the topic of birth trauma would probably have been non-existent.  Not because I would have felt that birth trauma is not important.  But because, I would not have had the “spidey sense” to be in tune to the situation.

Often, we become passionate about something personal to us.  It may be something that happened to us, or someone in our family.  It may be something happening in our city, country, or world, that personally affects us.  But until we are “bitten” we are unable to fully engage in the advocacy of change.  The changing of things that are not quite right, not quite safe, things that are ‘suspicious.”

Peter Parker used his “spidey sense” to help others.  That is the way I intend to use mine. 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Let’s Dance, Ellen!

So, I want to be on the Ellen show.  I have submitted my story a couple of times, to no avail 🙂  I know…she’s a busy woman.  I feel like her show could be the perfect platform to thrust birth trauma into the forefront by exposing millions of her viewers to this condition.  The Ellen show has proven to be the perfect venue to talk about topics that society isn’t always aware of or comfortable with.

Because birth trauma is not talked about, people who suffer from birth trauma experience shame, guilt, and sadness.  People who love those afflicted with birth trauma often feel helpless, ignorant, and angry.  We can change ALL of this through exposure.

There ARE support systems, life changing surgeries, wonderful therapies, and experienced doctors out there.  There IS NOT an awareness in our society to bring these resources to the front line of people’s minds.

Ellen, help me to erase the stigma of birth trauma. Ellen, help me to connect people to resources.  Ellen, help me to let people know they are not alone.  Ellen, help me help those suffering with birth trauma know that there IS hope.  Let’s Dance, Ellen!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

 

 

A Runcible Spoon

“They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon,”

 The Owl & The Pussy-Cat by Edward Lear

“What the heck is a runcible spoon?”  This was the question I was asked by my 4 year old daughter.  Overlooking the word “heck” as her word of choice, I asked myself, “what the HECK is a runcible spoon?”

Luckily, a friend with a smart phone quickly cleared up the confusion….A runcible spoon is….nothing, it is made up, it is vernacular associated with the writings of Edward Lear, being first introduced in his famous story,  The Owl & The Pussy-Cat.

This got me to thinking…how many times throughout my medical journey with birth trauma do I listen to “runcible” spoon jargon? I’m not suggesting that the medical community is speaking a made up language, which it turns out a runcible spoon is, I am more talking about the times I say to myself…”What the HECK is a (enter runcible spoon medical vernacular here)?”

While wading through a trauma that is rarely talked about in mainstream conversation, I have had many “runcible spoon” moments.

Some of my “runcible spoon” moments:

Pudendal Nerve, EMDR, defocography, Interstim, anal wink, anorectal manometry, fistula, prolapse

To all the above terms, and many more, I asked “What the HECK is that???”  As an advocate, I urge you to clarify those “runcible spoon” moments in an effort to maximize your care and further your understanding.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Is she OK?

Yesterday, my daughter ran away from me.

We were in the locker room bathroom at a local gym.  She flipped the lock (as I was using the bathroom), ran out, and hid herself. (in a locker)

As what seemed like the longest three minutes ever passed by, where I frantically searched, cried, yelled her name, I heard a scuffling in the locker next to me.

It was her.

It seems fitting that the panic of losing her, the stress of not knowing if she was OK, the fear of never holding her again, all fell on her day of birth, the day of my trauma, and the day where I experienced similar, if not identical feelings, 4 years ago.

I guess we never lose that feeling when we feel our children are in danger. 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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