Posts Tagged ‘Birth Trauma’

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

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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

A Surprise while Sneezing

Last week, while reclining in a nice comfortable chair, I sneezed.  Not only did I sneeze, I simultaneously sneezed, passed gas, and forcefully pushed parts of my rectum out through my sphincter.  Was I surprised? yes. Embarrassed? yes.  Realizing that this is just another thing I get to deal with as a result of my previous birth trauma? yes.  Just another simple joy that has come along with this pregnancy.  Although initially surprised at the unwanted protrusion that now permanently makes itself known, I was not at all caught unaware that this would most likely happen.

The birth trauma that I sustained during the birth of my first child is permanent.  My sphincter was and IS damaged.  As you well know, if you have been following my blog, the physical therapy, diet modifications, constant supervision by medical professionals including my OBGYN, physical therapist, and rectal surgeon, helped me “cope” with this reality during the initial few years of my recovery.  A little over three years postpartum, Medtronic Interstim helped to CORRECT this reality, allowing me function, clenching ability, and the shot at a “normal” sphincter.  So it really is no big surprise that now that the Interstim is off, as per pregnancy safety regulations, that my symptoms of fecal incontinence, saggy rectal tissue, and pain have returned full force.

Adding to the difficulty of turning the Interstim off, my body has also been dealing with symphysis pubic dysfunction.  With both of these factors affecting my body on a constant, unrelenting basis, my ability to have any sort of normal function in regards to fecal regulation has ceased.  I am right back where I was prior to having the Interstim placed.  Incontinent and in pain.  However, by no means am I playing the pity card here.  This was my choice to carry another child, my choice to get pregnant, my choice to turn my Interstim off.  Unfortunately, it is also my reality for the next three months as I wait for my baby to be born.

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

Just another reason…

The first thing my physical therapist pointed out to me when I was diagnosed with symphysis pubic dysfunction, SPD, is that the mode of the baby’s arrival would be important to consider.  Already knowing that I plan to have an elective c-section based on my past experiences, she quickly added on that a c-section is the best way to deliver a baby from a mother suffering with SPD.  Thinking about this, it makes perfect sense.  Why try to force a child’s head through an area in your body that is in extreme pain?  Why try for a vaginal birth when the reality of a vaginal birth for women with SPD is the action of splitting the pelvis further apart, possibly even breaking the pelvis, and causing life long problems and discomfort?  Why not opt for the truly safer option for women with SPD, the elective cesarean and bypass the pelvic floor and further damage to that area completely?
Why, when based with the evidence of a professional, and based upon a mother’s own pain with SPD, is a vaginal birth even considered?  Well, me being me, I checked out literature and forums surrounding this very topic.  The topic of c-section with SPD versus vaginal birth.   With despair, I noted that many women, women suffering with SPD, now also are suffering with disparaging answers and discussions on forums regarding their possible choice to have a c-section.  Why is society so adamant that  vaginal birth is best?  Clearly, when a woman is suffering with SPD, c-section should be the most obvious and logical choice.  Unfortunately, the forums I encountered suggested ways to still push for a vaginal birth with this condition.  Ways that encouraged mothers to avoid a c-section at any cost. Ways that clearly were not optimal to a woman in labor.  One such suggestion was measuring how far you could put your knees apart prior to labor without essentially cracking your pelvis, creating a ribbon loop, and using the loop during labor to not surpass that width.  As a women suffering with SPD, I can assure you that the width would not be that far, thus making labor and delivery much more difficult to achieve.  In addition, delivery of a baby vaginally by a woman with SPD increases the chances for SPD in the next pregnancy.  For that matter, any traumatic vaginal birth where there is damage to the pelvis or pelvic floor results in an increased likelihood for SPD in future pregnancies.  I know this to be true as my current SPD condition is a result of my weakened pelvic floor by way of my prior forceps traumatic delivery.

I’m all for choice in birth.  However, when society dictates a decree about vaginal birth at any cost, I hesitate to agree.  There should always be an open-minded discussion regarding the mode of delivery.  One that considers the mother’s physical and emotional needs as well as the baby.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Blogging for Others

Since starting my blog, I have become much more interested in others’ blogs, thoughts, and posts.  One blog that I regularly subscribe to is http://healmyptsd.com/.  A blog that highlights one woman’s inspiring story regarding her own PTSD, regularly features others’ stories about their individual struggles and triumphs with PTSD, and  encourages all who visit that there are ways to “triumph over trauma.”

I petitioned the writer of the blog, Michele Rosenthal, for a chance to add my story to her postings, in an effort to reach out to others by way of a different venue.  I am honored to have my guest post on her blog.  You can read it here:  http://healmyptsd.com/2012/09/birth-trauma.html.

If you are, or someone you love is, suffering from the debilitating effects of PTSD, I encourage you to read my story, Michele’s story, and other stories of survival, hope, and success.  As I always say, talking about experiences that are often stigmatized in our society is the first step to a change in how those experiences will be viewed by our society in the future.
Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Celebrating my 100th post!

This is my 100th post.

I thought I should probably make it somewhat meaningful, possibly a celebration of how far I have come, or a glance at what I have become.

Or both.

Well, I have come from a place of despair, of darkness, of hopelessness, of fear.

I have become a fighter, a survivor,….. an advocate.
In March 2008, I gave birth to one of the most precious blessings in my life.  4 1/2 years ago I experienced both the best and worst day of my life.  At the same time this beautiful light entered my life, my own light went out.  I suffered both physical and emotional consequences I could not have even imagined.  My world stopped making sense.

Through my struggles my family remained by my side, supporting me in my therapies, medical testing, and surgeries.

Slowly, with time, support, and extensive therapy, I began to emerge, a stronger, better, LOUDER, advocating individual.  I fight for women’s choice in birthing options, access to timely and correct prenatal and postpartum care, and recognition of the very real devastating effects of physical and emotional birth trauma.

I am happy to announce that I have been able to take the next step in my life journey.  I am expecting.  A thought, a dream, that I could not entertain for months, years, because of the physical and emotional ramifications of my first delivery.  I am so very happy to be able to share this with you, my readers, with the very real hope that I am offering YOU hope.  Things can and will get better.  It is possible.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren (and baby bump)

You Never Know

You never know.  This has been a mantra of mine since deciding to share my experiences, and share my story.  The other day, I was catching up with a friend and I handed her my card  that outlines my blogging website and my mission.  The person beside me, a man, overheard my conversation and promptly asked me for the information, citing his daughter’s agonizing recent experience with her own childbirth.  I was happy to oblige and give him a card that I know will contain information critical for his daughter in these early postpartum days.  I commend this man for speaking out.  Yet, once again, I am overwhelmed to think of the amount of women who suffer in silence, and who do not break their silence because of social stigmas.   It is because of these very occurrences that I continue to speak, loudly, everywhere, without hesitation, because….you never know.  You never know who is listening.  You never know who you may help next.  You never know.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

I’m in the Office

I’m in the office.  The doctor’s office.  That flyer regarding Medtronic Interstim for fecal incontinence that the doctor distributes?  It highlights my words, my experiences.  What an awesome outcome from my work as advocate.

“I could feel again. I could clench again. I could CONTROL my bowel movements again.” — Lauren

As I’ve said time and time again, advocacy is my way of dealing with my birth trauma, with my fecal incontinence, with my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  OK, Advocacy and a whole lot of therapy, time, medical interventions, medications, and support helped me overcome the many obstacles that plagued me.  However, at this point in my journey, support and advocacy are all that remain in my mission to lessen the stigma of birth trauma.  It has been so very exciting to see my words in print by way of Medtronic Interstim advertising materials.  It is encouraging that my words and my experiences are being distributed to those who may need the inspiration and information.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Happy Assiversary

Today I celebrated my “assiversary.”  Yes, 1 year ago, August 5th, I had my permanent Interstim implant placed squarely in my upper right butt cheek.  1 year ago, my quality of life significantly enhanced, 1 year ago, the symptoms of fecal incontinence were erased.  And so, I celebrated. With 30 or so of my closest friends and family.  We laughed over appetizers of Nutella, chocolate covered raisins, toilet bowl bread bowl, and turtle chocolate candies. We dined upon sloppy joe, sphincter rings (onion rings), and roughage (salad and watermellon).  We talked about how far I have come, how much their support has meant to me, and how grateful I am for Interstim and the technology.  We overused phrases like “you bet your ass I’ll be there!” “that’s a big ass cake!” and “what a crappy time this is!” And we laughed and smiled at the success I have experienced in the past year.  Thank you for all who were a part of my special day.
Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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