Archive for The Purpose

Cringe

Sometimes, I cringe.  I cringe when I hear stories about birth trauma.  I cringe when someone contacts me with yet another story of doctor incompetence resulting in physical and emotional harm. I especially cringe when the doctor that woman tells me about was the doctor who delivered me into my own personal hell.  I wonder if this doctor knows the impact she has on some of her patients.  The impact of her decisions, especially poor ones, on the individual women who she assisted during delivery and cared for postpartum.  The physical and emotional scarring from a doctor who I view as callous and without empathy.  I wonder, how many women have left her practice due to her incompetence, and then, I wonder, how many still remain?  I cringe.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Speaking UP!

Living with a bowel disorder is not easy.  In fact, it can be downright awful at times.  Besides the obvious physical discomfort, emotional stress is rampant.  As an ambassador for those suffering with fecal incontinence and a support group facilitator for those with bowel disorders, the theme of negativity around incontinence is a prevalent one.  In fact, I urge you, if you are NOT suffering with incontinence, to imagine a day when you may be.  Can you imagine how incontinence would impact your daily life?  I wrote about my experiences in-depth in this post here.  Can you imagine how leakage, urgency, physical pain in the rectal region, would change your outlook on your day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute happenings?

Remaining positive when dealing with your own bowel disorder is difficult.  Oftentimes, bowel disorders lead to increased isolation, as the individual suffering refuses to share such personal information, and/ or feels uncomfortable leaving familiar areas.  Often, people go years, even decades, before opening up about their incontinence to anyone, including health professionals.  This suffering in silence wears down a person, physically and mentally.

It’s time, as a society, to stop being afraid of talking about fecal incontinence.  Let’s not allow “pooping your pants” to be a punchline.   It’s time to create a safe space to identify, share, and discuss incontinence.  Only then, will people truly seek the treatment they need, and deserve.  And, guess what, I don’t mind starting the conversation.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Mother’s Choices

Last week, I made a choice.  I made a choice to be done with breastfeeding.  I made a choice to use formula and baby food.  I made a choice that feeding my baby my milk for the first seven months of his life was long enough for me.  I made the choice.  Furthermore, I had the right to make the choice.  However, I felt bad about that choice.  And, that caused me to wonder.  WHY?  It is my belief that to formula feed and to breast feed are both valid and equal options.  Additionally, I have never had a disparaging thought towards mothers who exclusively formula feed.  So, WHY?…Why did I feel bad about giving up the breast? The answer lies in the way that our society values one choice over the other.  The prevailing thought that “breast is best” radiates in most mainline social media.  The though of being judged, the idea that other mother’s would view my choice as “lesser,” caused me to feel poorly. (for the record, I’m over it.)

The parallels between breastfeeding choices and birthing choices are undeniable.  It is no secret that the information out there glorifies vaginal “natural” birth as well as breastfeeding as the ideal standards of baby care.  I’ve said it once, and I will say it again, the idea of a choice as lesser is detrimental to women who will be making these choices.  There is a plethora of information out there that suggests pros and cons to vaginal birth, c-section, breastfeeding, formula feeding…however, the information is often difficult to locate in a non-judgmental forum.  Nonetheless it does exist and it is up to us, as mothers, to research the pros and cons to these choices in order to make the best choice for us and our baby.  It is also up to us, as mothers, to not judge the choices that others make in regards to birth and feeding.  Breastfeeding, Formula-feeding, Vaginal, C-section,….ALL EQUAL….ALL PERSONAL CHOICES….ALL A MOTHER’S CHOICE.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Click

Click. Click. Click.  The noise of two pieces of metal coming together.  The sound of a fork scraping a plate at dinner, keys jangling, money jingling.  The sound that could instantly put me in a tailspin, a panic, a mind shattering experience when my PTSD was in full force.  The sound of forceps.  The sound of trauma.

The sound of metal.  The sight of forceps-like things…salad tongs, cooking utensils.  The sight and the sounds, in combination, left me in the fetal position on the kitchen floor, holding my ears in a booth at a fancy restaurant, in tears at a guest’s house for dinner.

These reactions were not pretty.  PTSD is not manageable without treatment.  My treatment for PTSD, although long and arduous, was successful.  But, I still cannot believe what I did this week.  What I COULD do, and what I DID do.  I did a Google search on “forceps deliveries.”  I clicked on videos.  And I watched.  With the volume up, and the picture large, I watched a forceps delivery.  And I almost puked.  NOT because of any remnants of the PTSD, but simply because of the barbaric nature of this form of delivery.  I watched as the forceps were placed, placing an instrument that is much too big for the vagina, and will more than likely tear the vagina, in the vagina.  I watched the doctor use some other medical device to further expand the vaginal opening by slicing the flesh around the vagina. I watched the doctor apply an extreme amount of traction to pull a baby from a mother’s unwilling body.  I heard the mother moaning and screaming.  I heard the click.

And, I think to myself.  My cesarean section was a piece of cake compared to the butchery of a forceps delivery. The elective cesarean section, the “major surgery” that I had ,was controlled, defined, and calm.  Each “click” was accounted for, each slice meaningful, each stitch done with the precision of a skilled doctor in a controlled environment.  It will always baffle me WHY forceps are used in a non-emergency vaginal delivery.  Although it baffles me, it apparently does not baffle the birthing community.  It seems many women still view a forceps assisted “natural” vaginal birth as a better option than a cesarean delivery.  The idea of women being stigmatized when considering their options between forceps and cesarean at the moment their delivery may deem necessary sickens me.  I feel that women should always have an informed choice and it is my mission to advocate for that choice.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

The first step to Wellness

Navigation of treatment is one of the many obstacles that an individual faces when dealing with trauma.  In both physical and emotional trauma, the simple confession, if you will, to oneself of one’s situation needs to be the very first step.  Admitting to yourself the need for help is one thing, but sharing your problem with another is often extremely difficult.  Unfortunately, when dealing with stigmatized trauma, such as mental illness and incontinence, the essential step of sharing one’s difficulty is often never mastered.  It may not be achieved for years.  However, once you are able to discuss your physical and emotional traumas with another human being, you have made a great leap into treatment.  Talking about your worries is crucial to treatment.  My treatment model followed the following path over the course of 3 + years:

1. Admit to myself that something was not “right” with my incontinence. Talk with my husband, Talk with my mother. See my OBGYN.-Unsatisfied with results. See a new OBGYN-Unsatisfied with results.  See another new OBGYN. Diagnosed with fecal incontinence. See a Gastroenterologist. Begin Physical Therapy.  See a Rectal Surgeon.  Have extensive testing on the sphincter.  Discover exact defect.  Enter specialized Physical Therapy.  Admit to myself that something was not “right” with my brain.  Talk with my husband.  See my OBGYN.  Get prescribed medication.  See Cognitive Behavior Psychologist.-Unsatisfied with results.  See EMDR specialist. Diagnosed with PTSD with related anxiety disorder.  See a Psychiatrist for medicine management in conjunction with EMDR psychotherapy.  Leave work due to PTSD, anxiety and incontinence. Rectal Surgeon prescribes new treatment for fecal incontinence.  Have Interstim therapy implanted. Discharged from Physical Therapy.  Discharged from Psychotherapy. Titrate off of medication.  Cleared to go back to work.

As you can see, for me, admitting WAS the first step on a journey that would take over three years to travel to wellness.  However, I continue on my wellness journey daily and to date it looks like this:

Start a blog, continue blogging, become a patient ambassador for Medtronic Interstim, become pregnant with second child, turn off Interstim implant, experience setbacks with incontinence and pelvic floor weakness, attend Physical Therapy, have second child, experience wellness with incontinence once Interstim turned back on, facilitate a local support group for bowel disorders, get a part time job.….be engaged daily with a life that seemed unimaginable in the immediate aftermath of trauma….

You can do it too.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

 

 

It’s been TOO long!

As I sit and write this post, the thought of “it’s been TOO long,” resonates in my brain.  Yes, it HAS been too long since I last posted.  The excuses pile up…Yes, I have been busy with the baby.  Yes, I have been busy with the  general end of summer, beginning of fall, type things.  Yes, I have been busy sending my oldest off to kindergarten.  Yes, I have been busy getting a part-time job and engaging in my various other volunteer activities.  Yes, I have been busy.

On a very basic level, the fact that I CAN be busy….the fact that I CAN think of other things besides my past  trauma, my past physical and mental impediments, is exhilarating!!!!!  It is such a rush to realize that I am no longer tied to my past emotionally and physically to the point that the past is all I can think about.  The fact that my past no longer keeps me busy.  The fact that the present and future rule my world and I am not bogged down in irrational thinking and physical pain.

However, my mission will always be to shed light on birth trauma, in whatever way I can.  I am truly inspired by some wonderful individuals that post and write about a cause on almost a daily turn, a cause that I feel passionate about.  I am ready to get back in the swing of blogging.  I owe it to my past to pay tribute to a truly terrifying and difficult experience and to honor a hard-fought recovery.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

The Loss of a Birth Plan

Trauma.  That word evokes feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, injury, shock, disbelief, anger, sadness, despair.  Trauma does not equally impact individuals. One person’s trauma may not be another person’s trauma.  Our perception of a trauma is very important.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is  about not only the trauma itself, but the individual’s perception of the trauma.

In terms of birth and birth trauma, it is very important to note that every birthing mother is is different.  Quite recently, I have been completely involved with individuals who are very close to me with birth stories that are wildly different from mine.  With every birth story I hear, I remember that I must withhold judgement about individual birth choices, as well as remember that violations of those individual choices can result in emotional and physical trauma.

In our society, women are often held to the “ideal” standard of an uncomplicated, unmedicated, vaginal birth with no postpartum complications.  Women base their entire birth plans on this way of bringing their child into the world.   Other women focus on delivery by way of cesarean section, basing their entire birth plans of this way of bringing their child into the world.

Unfortunately, having the type of birth you want is not always possible-be it by way of the vagina or via cesarean section.  Sometimes medical professional’s personalities as well as very real medical circumstances cause an individual’s birth experience to be somewhat or completely out of  her control. The reality of birth is that circumstances can change in an instant, causing birth plans to shatter, and idealization of what we, as mothers, thought was going to happen, to go out the window.  Unfortunately, this is a hard reality to hit up against in what can really be a women’s most vulnerable time.  In the instant of birth, you are often the most exposed, most exhausted, most emotional being that you ever will be.  It is no wonder that when your beliefs are challenged at this time, when the plans are rapidly changed, when your control over what is happening to your own body is taken from you through circumstances you have no control over, that women DO feel violated, alone, and often helpless.  It is important to note that it does not matter what choice women made for their birth plan, or whether that would be your choice or not, it is still HER choice, and still HER violation when it changes.  And you know what, it does not matter if it HAS to change, that feeling is still there….that feeling of loss, helplessness, and despair.

When all is said and done, women often can look back objectively and realize medically WHY things happened the way they did…but that often does not erase that feeling of loss that whatever birth was envisioned did not occur.  It may take medical intervention, both physically and mentally to process the experience and heal from any physical and mental wounds that may have occurred.  Any experience IS traumatic to individuals when they perceive it be, and it is not up to society to decide what kind of birth a person should have as well as decide how a mother should perceive the deconstruction of the birth plan during birth.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

I Need Time

Recently, I came across an article, “I’m Having a Baby, Not Hosting A Party-Stay Out Of My Hospital Room!”  while researching the time of c-section recovery for the mother.  With a large, loving, local, extended family, I know that visitors are going to be itching to come and see the new addition to our family.  Like the author, Rebecca Eckler, I also feel that “Of course I want everyone to see the baby…but I don’t really want visitors…   Like the author, I am having a planned c-section.  Like the author, people know about the date and location of delivery.  Like the author, I’m worried.

Perhaps ,unlike the author, I am worried about having visitors post delivery mainly because I don’t know how I am going to be, or what I will be feeling, emotionally and physically.  After my daughter was born, I experienced the ramifications of both physical and emotional trauma.  I was unable to navigate all of the immediate postpartum emotions and physical discomfort with a clear head.  I was in shock, physically and emotionally, for the allotted time of “recovery” at the hospital.  I had many visitors to the hospital postpartum, well-meaning friends and family, excited to see the baby, yet unaware of my inner and outer turmoil.

Part of my years of PTSD therapy explored the possibility of having another child.  At first, the firm answer of “NO WAY” was the only sane answer I could come up with in regards to the question of “will you have another child?”  As time passed, and I became much more emotionally healthy, I realized my dream for another child was one that I could not ignore, one that I did not want to lose simply because of the trauma inflicted upon me.  The dream of having another child was a dream that was my right, a dream that I could fulfill by continuing to attend therapy and eventually be discharged with a healthy psyche.

Having another child, and facing my trauma, the trauma of a delivery, head on is not something that scares me anymore.  I realize that because of the enormity of what I am about to experience, I may be overly emotional immediately postpartum simply because of the nature of the experience.  I know I will be able to reclaim, in the physical and emotional sense, what was lost to me during that initial traumatic delivery.  I am going into all of this a much more educated and medically supported individual.  I have a team of medical professionals that are helping me to succeed physically and emotionally with this pregnancy.  I have me, a much stronger, better, advocate for what I need.

I’ve never thought of myself as a selfish individual, but I need to ask myself the following question in an effort to preserve my sanity, my spirit, and to protect my physical and emotional wellness.  “What do I need during those first few days?” I need time.  I need quiet.  I need peace.  I need to make peace out of the broken pieces of my first delivery by having this delivery, this experience, be different.  How much time do I need?  How will I achieve this quiet reflective time necessary for the reconciliation of and reclamation of my spirit?  How can I truly be at peace?  The answer lies in the events yet to happen during and after delivery.  The answer lies in the control that I feel postpartum.  The answer lies in my ability to let visitors know that I may need more time, just because, prior to them visiting the baby.  The answer lies in people respecting that time that I need.  Not only people respecting that time, but people appreciating that I am taking that time to heal, to make peace, to be joyful, to feel whole again.  The biggest question of all, the one that I cannot plan for, is how much time will I need?  I am unable and unwilling to answer that question at this time.  I just don’t know what it’s going to be like.  However, I do know that I will advocate for whatever it is I need to remain a healthy and happy individual.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

10 weeks

To date, there are about 10 weeks left until my planned, elective, cesarean section.  I cannot tell you how excited I am and pleased that elective cesarean is an available option for me.  To know that I am able to have another child, that I am able to commit to another pregnancy and delivery without an overwhelming sense of impending doom that the trauma I experienced before could happen again, is a complete joy.  Thankfully, the choice of elective cesarean, the choice of how I will bring forth my baby into the world, the choice of how my body will deliver new life to the world, is mine to make.  This choice is supported by my doctor, and my hospital.  This choice is, for the most part, supported by my family and friends.  Unfortunately, this choice is not readily available to all mothers, not promoted by many mothers and medical professionals, and downright denied to some pregnant individuals.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about elective cesarean and the thoughts and attitudes surrounding this mode of delivery.  Articles and comments that are part of our mainstream culture that discuss elective cesarean often focus on this delivery option as one of huge risk (to both mother and child), one that should be done only in extreme circumstances (a medical emergency that arises during a “natural” vaginal birth), and one that should never EVER be done electively.  These articles on elective c-section often focus  on the mother’s selfishness, the baby’s overwhelming ability to bond or breastfeed, and society’s disgust at the choice of operation vs. “natural” process.

Although the overwhelming amount of readily available literature regarding elective cesarean focus on the negatives, as an educated women, I am able to offer you two very excellent resources that talk about elective cesarean as a more streamlined and socially accepted choice.  The best resource that I have found on this subject is the book, Choosing Cesarean: A Natural Birth Plan, by Dr. Magnus Murphy and Pauline McDonagh Hull.  Another equally compelling resource for elective cesarean, a resource that provides current up-to-date trends and support surrounding this always controversial topic is the wonderful Facebook page, Cesarean by Choice Awareness Network.  Created by another individual who rallies for women’s choice in the mode of delivery, this Facebook page promotes civil discussion and inspires those individuals looking for answers and real information about elective cesarean…without societal bias of “natural” vaginal birth.

I urge anyone even remotely interested in the subject of elective cesarean to become informed, not just by the biased media that is most readily available, but by the literature and groups that are beginning to gain more momentum in the movement for women’s choice about how to birth their children.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Vaginas and Eyes and Ears, Oh MY!

As I begin to really talk to people openly about my choice to have an elective c-section for the impending arrival of my baby, I can’t help but feeling the weight of the world’s “natural” order on my mind.  In our society, it is a commonly voiced belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth” often supported by the statement “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” and ended with “it’s just natural.”

Although I respect your opinion if you hold this belief near and dear to your heart, I must present the other side. My blog, and my mission, is to break down the barriers in our society that allow women to feel judged, stigmatized, and depressed.  It is my job to present another side, another perspective, for women who continue to feel victimized by the pervasive thought in our society in which they somehow “failed” as a mother, as a woman, by either “succumbing” to a c-section or electing for one.  Women often are made to feel ashamed of the inability or lack of desire to birth “naturally.”  Many natural birthing movement attitudes view c-section as a last resort, an unfortunate choice, a traumatizing alternative that will result in feelings of inadequacy, emptiness, and total lack of womanhood.

My responsibility is to offer a different perspective.  For example-the belief that “women’s bodies were meant to give birth (without intervention)” should and can sit side by side with the statements “people’s eyes were meant to see (without intervention)” and “people’s ears were meant to hear (without intervention).”  Why oh why do we only hold true the first statement?  Why is it socially acceptable to accept “medical” intervention to advance one’s sight or hearing?  Do people with glasses and hearing aids feel less of a person because they have somehow “failed” to live as nature intended?  Wouldn’t it be odd if, as a society, one was expected to “trust nature” and continue to walk around blindly or without the ability to hear if there were medical advances and professional individuals around to implement those medical advances?  Of course society does not expect those with deficits in eyes or ears that can be medically corrected to just “go with what nature intended.”  However, women who have either emotional or physical barriers present prior to the delivery of their baby are often expected to entertain the “natural” order of the body prior to “succumbing” to medical advances such as medicated birth and c-section.

The statement, “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” is inherently true.  You know what else is true?  Women have been dying in childbirth since the beginning of time.  And so have their babies.  Furthermore, more women and babies died in childbirth in the “beginning of time” because medical advances, information, and professionals who know how to implement and utilize the technology we have now did not exist.  I truly believe that I and/or my child would have perished in childbirth if I had been birthing in an era of even 100 years ago.

Lastly, the proclamation of “it’s natural” is one that suggests anything other than a vaginal, non-medicated birth as “unnatural.”  I would like to add that “natural” isn’t always efficient or life-affirming.  Evolution is “natural.”  Evolution allows for natural selection, survival of the fittest, the inability for all of us in society to “naturally” give birth.  Is it right to give a label to woman of “unnatural” who would otherwise perish in childbirth if not for medically assisted birth?  I view the labeling of my upcoming elective c-section birth as “unnatural” to be disconcerting.  This societal label thrusts women who opt for c-section as outcasts, non-societal norms, that need to be treated with pity and disdain.

Based upon my words above, it’s easy to see how I feel about these statements.  However, I still remain open to the thought that it IS natural for women to have their own beliefs and ideas about childbirth.  I fully support a woman’s right to choose their own birth story in an educated and supported context. For more on my birth position, read here. I struggle with the fact that our society, as a whole, supports statements that make women feel less, make women feel “unnatural”, and make women feel as if their body and mind have failed them somehow.  And that, my friends, is why I continue to advocate for the other side.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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