Archive for The Trauma(s)

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

Hemorrhage

One of the major traumas that I endured during the birth of my child was postpartum hemorrhage.  You can read all about it here: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/796785-overview#a0101.

To the average reader, postpartum hemorrhage is when you bleed after delivery.  In my case, after I delivered my child, she was quickly whisked away to be suctioned by NICU nurses (she had swallowed meconium) As I struggled on the table to glimpse my new baby, I began to feel completely drained.  This was the beginning of the postpartum hemorrhage.  My body just wouldn’t stop bleeding.

I feel the need to be totally honest in my posts, and, if I lose some of my readers here…I apologize. At this point of my trauma, I left my body.  Whether you believe in this phenomenon or not, I truly believe that this happened.  From my out-of-body vantage point, I saw things I couldn’t have possibly seen while laying there bleeding.  I felt calm, relaxed, and at peace-even though I saw my ravaged body lying on the table, heard the nurses shouting “she’s bleeding!, and watched the frantic scurrying of the medical personnel at my bedside.  From my out-of-body location, I could actually see my child, while holding my husband’s hand, and looking down at her. (This all “occurred” while I was bleeding on the delivery table)

The thing that “snapped” me back in was the administration of medication rectally.  I found myself lying there broken on the table.  No more bleeding, but severely weakened.

I’m not asking you to judge my experience.  I just find it amazing that the body seeks to protect, even in the most challenging times.  Had I not “gone outside myself” the fear that I would have experienced at that point could have been overwhelming.  I am grateful that my body knew what to do.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

The Business of Being Born

So, for a long while, people have been urging me to, and asking me if, I have watched the movie “The Business of Being Born.”  You know, the one with Ricki Lake, where she goes on her crusade for a “natural” birth.  Truth be told, this movie has been sitting in my Netflix queue for a LONG time.  I think I have always wanted to see it, however, the triggers that it may have held prevented me from pressing play, until now.

Last night, I watched it.  It was terrifyingly one-sided.  Much as I expected it to be.

As an aside, it is important to note, that my personal crusade is not for c-sections, it’s not for non-instrumental birth, it IS for women’s choice, consent, education, and the ability to have all options recognized and respected in the birth realm. 

“The Business of Being Born” paints a picture of women who choose the route of c-sections as being weak.  At one point a statistic was recited about c-sections in new york and the woman interviewed’s response summarily said, “that’s so high, I thought New York women were stronger than that.”  Ahem, stronger than what?  Making an educated decision for yourself IS strong.  Deciding what you want to do with your body IS strong.  This IS feminism people, women’s choice!  I am not degrading or demoralizing natural birth.  Because that is YOUR choice.  Get it, it’s choice that should be the issue.

Another huge scare tactic they put in the movie is the fact that women will not be able to achieve the natural oxytocin high that comes with pushing a baby out of your vagina without drugs.  This in turn will cause the ability to bond with the child to be difficult if not, non-existent. (Their words, not mine.)

Well, I have to tell you.  Had I given birth to my baby without drugs or intervention in an effort to achieve this natural high they are raving about, I would most likely be dead.  And, probably the baby too.  How natural is that?

We need to stop being so one-sided on issues giving women the choice.  I wish this movie presented the facts about natural birth and the natural act of cesarean birth in a more positive choice promoting manner.  Throughout the movie, the producers are touting the fear based agenda that the medical community and the community of women buy into about not wanting a natural birth.  However, this movie could serve to instill a fear base in viewers regarding cesarean section.  Is that any better?  Creating a flip-side fear community?  I would love to see a movie that presents all aspects of birth impartially, because there are many women who need to know the facts, not just someone’s agenda. 

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

I’m OK too

Recently, I commented on a blog that also explores the very real diagnosis of PTSD after childbirth as well as the issue of birth trauma.  The post that I commented on, “Thank God the Baby is ok!” can be read in its entirety here. http://www.tobreatheagainbook.com/2011/12/thank-god-baby-is-ok.html#comment-form

I tend to agree with this posting.  So many times while relating my story to others, (family, friends, and medical professionals), I hear the phrase “At least the Baby’s OK.”  Whether it is in those exact words or some other phrasing with the same meaning, I inwardly cringe.  I know this is a well-meaning statement.  I know the people saying it to me are trying to show they care.  I know that there is a thrust in our society to look for the best of the situation.  However, I have to agree with Kerissa from “To Breathe Again” (see link above) when she states “Baby’s matter. A lot. But mom’s matter, too.”

Knowing my baby was ok and is ok does matter.  In fact, as a mom ,it was really important to me that she was ok.  In fact, I hoped that she was more than ok.  I hoped that she was healthy, beautiful, smart, joyous, etc.  All those hopes that mom’s have for their kids.

To best explain why the statement “At least the Baby’s OK” rubs me the wrong way, it is important for you to understand my perspective of that day.  The day of my daughter’s birth. The day of my trauma. It was the most wonderful day and the most horrifying day simultaneously.  I separate those two events, even though they happened at the same time.  If I am relaying to you my story, I am telling you my trial, my horror, my hell.  I am not connecting that trauma to the wonderful person that entered this world and blesses our lives daily.

I appreciate all of the support for my journey.  Yes, my daughter is ok, she’s more than ok.  And guess what?  Through hard work, therapy, some totally awesome medical interventions,  and lots of tears, I’m ok too.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Too Personal

I’ve been told by some people that they won’t read my blog because it is “too personal.”  Yes, vaginas, sexuality, rectal scarring, anal winks, pooping, mental illness, yes, it’s personal.  But sometimes, it is easy to confuse “too personal” with shameful, dirty, and stigmatized.

I write my blog to free myself of the stigma that surrounds my circumstances.  It’s not easy to be suffering with issues that no wants to talk about, read about, hear about, listen to, etc.  To date, there are many medical issues that have reached the acclaim in our society that make them easy to talk about, empathize with, and join together for a common cause.  However, I am sure that there were people that needed to champion those causes and efforts prior to them becoming easy to talk about over a cup of tea.

I believe that I am one of a growing number of women who are no longer going to be silent.  Medical interventions, successful therapies, and political awareness only come about when there is a movement to have our voices heard.  Birth Trauma and the physical and mental devastation it can leave in its wake is an issue that I am not ready to concede is “too personal.” 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

The Crap He Puts Up With

This post is dedicated to my husband….and the crap he puts up with.  Figuratively….and Literally. 

While engaged in full-blown PTSD, my husband was always there, fully supportive of the shell of my former self that I had become.  Immediately after the birth of our child, but prior to any real diagnosis, my husband recognized that I needed help, support, and unconditional love.  And, he gave me all these things without question.  My husband did ALL of the housework, ALL of our life maintenance (bills, shopping, answering phone calls, making appointments, filling our cars with gas, driving, etc), and most of the childcare.  Yes, I fed our child, however, my husband changed her, brought her to me when she needed to be fed, helped me play with her, attended to her in the night when she was crying, etc.

A typical day for me during full-blown PTSD looked like this:  My husband waking two hours before me to work on the house, grocery shop, or do bills.  My husband waking me up gently (alarms were a trigger for me), my husband handing me the baby to be fed, my husband burping and changing the baby, my husband urging me to shower, my husband ironing and washing my clothes, my husband making my breakfast, my husband getting the baby ready for daycare, my husband handing me my ready-made lunch and placing my work stuff into the car (which he always made sure had gas), my husband driving my daughter to daycare (even though it was right across the street from where I worked-leaving her was a trigger) before he brought himself to work, me going to work in a haze, me leaving work, me picking up my daughter, coming home and feeding my daughter, me sitting in a comfortable chair with her until my husband came home from work, my husband making dinner, playing together as a family, my husband helping me with bedtime routine, me sitting in my chair, my husband cleaning up the house, both going to bed, my husband helping me through nightmares, twitches, and teeth grinding while simultaneously attending to the baby in the other room. REPEAT DAILY.

That’s a lot of figurative crap to put up with.  Not to mention the literal.  Fecal Incontinence is not pretty, and yes, there is a lot of literal crap.  Was I doing the laundry?  Was I emptying the trash filled with used incontinence pads?  Was I purchasing the pads, enemas, and fiber supplements? No, it was my husband.

Now, I would never claim my husband is a saint, but, I know he’s a better person than most to be able to navigate the trials of PTSD and fecal incontinence with grace and courage.   It is my hope that everyone could have someone just as wonderful to help them through their own trauma, however; the reality is some marriages cannot sustain the angst that sickness and trauma thrust upon the parties involved. Our marriage has survived and strengthened through this major medical trauma in my life, and I am truly grateful that my husband was able to remain by my side holding not only my hand, but my heart throughout the duration.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

How Many?

So, I have been wondering….how many of us are there?  How many women suffer from fecal incontinence as a result of childbirth?  How many woman suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of childbirth?

In reading one of my favorite blogs, cesarean debate, I was motivated to comment upon one of Pauline’s entries.  Pauline’s tireless campaign for women’s choice to have an informed decision about a cesarean birth is well thought out and conveyed through her blog.  Her most recent entry, entitled “Why do I keep writing this blog? Because of e-mails like this…” really moved me to comment.  See blog entry and my comment here :  http://cesareandebate.blogspot.com/2012/01/why-do-i-keep-writing-this-blog-because.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CesareanDebate+%28cesarean+debate%29

I would encourage my readers to talk about my blog in an effort to direct women, their partners, and the medical community towards my story.  It takes courage to talk about something that is not the norm in our society.  Courage is always fostered by having support.  The support of others with similar stories, the support of the medical community, and the support of those advocating for a change for women and their choices regarding birth.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

 

2,414 Dollars

While perusing the internet today, I found an interesting chart that outlines the cost difference between a cesarean section and vaginal birth.  Furthermore, it outlines the differences in cost between a “vaginal birth with complications” and cesarean birth, which is the exact number I have been looking for while trying to understand a possible justification as to why I was privy to a forceps assisted birth versus a cesarean.  The chart that I am referring to can be found here: http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/New-York.pdf

In New York, in 2008, the cost of a vaginal birth with complications was estimated to be $10,393.  The cost of a c-section$12,807.  This being the year and state location in which I delivered my child, I find the difference in cost to be $2,414.  Was this the magic number that pushed medical professionals to opt. for something cheaper and quicker?

Do I believe that I was not given a C-section due to cost?  Well, here are the facts. According to everything I have read, a c-section should have been a strong consideration for me.  I had a 12 day post date child, who was estimated to be 9 pounds 9 ounces, had a “sunny-side” up position, had a prolonged pushing stage of labor (over 3 hours) and had been in labor for 36 hours.  I was not given that consideration.  I was told that forceps would be a good choice for me.    Based on the situation, I would have to believe that cost could have been a consideration for the medical professionals treating me.

There are also charts outlining the cost differential in other states and they can be found here: http://transform.childbirthconnection.org/resources/datacenter/chargeschart/statecharges/

It’s interesting and informative information-check it out!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Empathy

Throughout my ordeal, the one thing I have longed to hear from the medical professional whose actions and inaction caused my plight  is “I’m sorry, I understand.” Because of legalities, bedside manner in this regard has essentially gone out the window.  As OBGYN’s are flooded with lawsuits and threats of legal action, true empathy is rare to find vocalized in the medical community.

I am not saying that everything was my OBGYN’s fault, however, I am saying that her empathy could have been a powerful beginning to my healing journey.  For my OBGYN to relay the understanding of the loss that a 27-year-old must feel when she no longer has rectal function and control would have gone a long way with me.  Instead, I received a firm statement of “this is normal” from my OBGYN when I conveyed my inability to control my bowels.

In advocating for others, I hope to be that voice that “victims” can hear when the medical community remains silent.  So, here it is from my mouth to your ears “I am sorry for your situation.  I totally understand.  I will do everything I can to help you on your healing journey.”

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Rocks on the Tracks

Today, as I drove my daughter to preschool, I was stopped at some railroad tracks to wait for a train.  The sound of the train as it rumbled over the tracks brought me back to a statement that my husband made to me while I was fully engaged in my PTSD diagnosis.  After a particularly restless night, fraught with nightmares, flashbacks, and cold sweats, my husband stated to me that “my teeth sound like a train running over rocks on the tracks.”

One of my symptoms of PTSD was an extreme grinding of my teeth when I “slept.”  And yes, it was loud, painful, and relentless.  Sad to say, I kind of just let myself grind without intervention until my dentist pointed out that he could tell I was grinding grooves into my teeth.  Solution-A mouth guard that I could wear at night.  Problem-the “plasticy” smell triggered a panic response in my body. Through therapy I discovered that the “plasticy” smell related to the oxygen administered to me via facemask during delivery and was able to work through this trigger.

My point-nothing with PTSD is ever simple, and usually there is not a quick answer.  Therapy has eliminated totally the need for a mouth guard at this point, as my grinding as ceased.  Just know- PTSD is a long, challenging, loud train ride that requires a skillful conductor and a lot of support to smooth the bumpy tracks.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

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