Posts Tagged ‘Birth Trauma’

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

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Forceps

This weekend, a story came to my attention that left me emotionally devastated.  You can read the story in its entirety here.  The story highlights the birth of baby Olivia, who, following a rather tumultuous attempt at a vaginal delivery, was delivered via forceps.  Because of forceps’ placement and doctor’s skill, or lack thereof, Baby Olivia’s skull and spine were broken, leaving her on life support for 5 days before she passed away.  Reading this story, I can only imagine the horror and anguish that this family feels.  I can only imagine that the mother, whose body must be broken and battered from a botched forceps delivery, and whose daughter is lost to her, now has to cope with both physical and undeniable emotional pain.  I can only imagine how the father, who witnessed the botched delivery, and lost his little one, will live with that emotional anguish.

I can only imagine, and reflect, on my own experience with forceps delivery.  Like the mother in this sad story, c-section was pushed to the back burner.  Olivia’s mother, in fact, asked for a c-section, prior to admittance to the hospital, and was told that “she’d be left with a scar.”  After 3 hours of pushing, I too was told that a c-section would leave me with more physical baggage then a forceps delivery.  I think, too often, that people underestimate the very real dangers of forceps delivery…in part because we are not warned of the horrors of such a delivery.  I have yet to read a story of, “my wonderful forceps delivery.”  I have yet to meet a woman, who delivered via forceps, with a glowing review to such a delivery.

Like Olivia’s parents, I maintain that forceps deliveries should be banned.  My thoughts are, if you get to the point in a vaginal delivery where your body is just not ready/responding, then go for the c-section.  In fact, my thoughts are, if you need any sort of intervention, including induction, you may as well go for the c-section.  Although my thoughts may be unpopular, they are rooted in my own experiences, and in the experiences that I hear about from others who struggle on a daily basis with birth trauma.

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

A Gathering

About a month ago, I was asked to facilitate a support group specifically geared towards those suffering with bowel disorders.  This group is the first of its kind in my area and I am humbled and honored that I was chosen to lead this gathering of individuals with similar issues.  Honestly, even with the outreach to individuals telling them about this group, I was hesitant to think that we may have a large turnout to this type of meeting.  It is an unfortunate truth that many individuals afflicted with bowel disorders remain silent…not because they necessarily want to, but more because society stigmatizes the ability to talk freely about issues such as these.

With great pride, I am pleased to announce that between 15 and 20 individuals showed at the first meeting.  Brave individuals who summoned the courage to share their stories, listen with an open heart and mind to others, and work with me to shape future gatherings into meetings that are both productive and encouraging.  I am truly blessed that I have been given the opportunity to facilitate these meetings.  I am excited about the possibilities of shattering societal stigma, beginning with the small group dynamic, and spreading out into the general public by raising awareness of these very personal issues.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Getting the run around….

In reading about other individual’s experiences with elective cesarean, I have counted myself lucky that the opposition from medical professionals that many mothers face in obtaining the right to choose this type of delivery is something I have only READ about.  Until now.  This past weekend, my OBGYN doctor called me with a heads up that “we may have a little problem with your planned c-section.”  My doctor, (who is a huge advocate for my planned elective cesarean that is supposed to take place in 3 days), has received an e-mail from the hospital I am set to deliver at asking him “why is she (meaning me) choosing this mode of delivery electively at 38 + weeks gestation?”  Furthermore, the hospital is claiming that the amniocentesis appointment that has been set for months for the day before the scheduled c-section is not set up. (even though I have paperwork confirming the appointment). The claim is that there is no appointment, therefore, no ability to process to lung development, therefore, no elective c-section.  In addition to these claims from the hospital, my OBGYN has informed me that many mothers going in for an elective c-section recently at this hospital have been faced with “inconclusive” findings during the amniocentesis, therefore, the elective c-sections for these mothers have been cancelled, resulting in a later rescheduling or more likely, the need for the mother to go into labor prior to having a c-section.

I find this completely unacceptable for the hospital to pull this little stunt 3 days prior to my planned c-section.  Not only do I believe that elective cesarean IS the better choice for delivery, I have medical indications that support my right to demand an elective cesarean section without trial of labor.  These indications include:

1.  Previous BOTCHED vaginal delivery in which I was in labor for over 30 hours, pushed for over 3, and delivered a sunny side up 8 pound 14 ounce baby girl with forceps.

2.  A third degree tear, dislocated hip, and severe postpartum hemorrhage immediately following delivery.

3.  Resulting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with related Anxiety Disorder directly related to trial of labor and vaginal delivery.

4.  Resulting permanent damage to rectal sphincter and fecal incontinence directly related to trial of labor and vaginal delivery.

5.  The medtronic Interstim for fecal incontinence device that I have placed on my sacral nerve does not support the trials of labor and delivery, a c-section is indicated as a better mode for delivery.

6.  The current SPD, symphysis pubic dysfunction, that I am dealing with will only get worse with a trial of labor and delivery, a c-section is indicated as a better mode for delivery.

Because of all the above indicators, my anxiety level is through the roof just thinking about a trial of labor, that could possibly result in a vaginal delivery.  Also, the closer I get to my due date, the more likely my elective planned c-section will become a c-section that results after I go into labor, which is not an ideal situation for me, emotionally or physically.  I know with certainty that my OBGYN is on my side with this, and he is currently trying to sort the whole thing out with the hospital.  Later today, I have an appointment with my OBGYN doctor and I hope it brings good news.  It’s just a shame that I need to spend these next couple of days worrying over a choice that I should have the right to make without the hassle instead of mentally preparing myself for the joy of meeting my son via the certainty of a planned elective cesarean delivery.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Comparing Pregnancies

It is amazing to me how much pregnancies can vary.  With exactly 5 years between the pregnancy of my daughter and my current pregnancy, I have found that although I have hit the trimester milestones in the same months, my pregnancies couldn’t be more different.  With my daughter, pregnancy was pretty much a breeze.  Sure, a little morning sickness, some aches and pains, extreme cravings….basically- the hallmarks of a “normal” pregnancy.  With my son, extreme morning sickness, symphysis pubic dysfunction, inability to move without the aid of a wheelchair/cane, sickness leading to hospitalization, are just some of the maladies I’ve experienced throughout the duration of this pregnancy.

In truth, part of me (all of me really) hopes that the “suffering” with this current pregnancy is over the minute this little boy is delivered.  If that is the case, it would be in sharp contrast to the delivery of my daughter, where the “suffering” really began upon delivery and leached into a LONG physically and emotionally painful postpartum period.  Knowing that I’ve done all I can to be proactive for this upcoming delivery, and knowing what I know now about what “ideal” postpartum care should look like, I feel that I have done my part in the process for a successful delivery and postpartum period.  I feel prepared and educated and therefore, happy to know that I am in control of the direction of my postpartum recovery.

I know it is not reality to think that the logic “easy pregnancy=tough postpartum”  equates to “tough pregnancy=easy postpartum” but hey, it’s OK to imagine that might be the case, right?

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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