Posts Tagged ‘childbirth’

You might scare her…

Sometimes, and often by well-meaning individuals, I am silenced from telling my birth story to others.  When in the room with certain individuals and a newly pregnant mother-to-be, I am sometimes told, “Don’t tell her your story, you might scare her.”  Aside from being condescending to my entire being, that statement is one that is pretty much in tune with the way things can be in the birth world.

The truth is, I “might” scare her, but more importantly, I “might” educate her about very real issues that were a result of childbirth for me, and, potentially, could be a result for her.  Too often, we paint childbirth as a time to be strong, to be courageous, to be natural…when we really need to paint childbirth as a time to be educated.  Not only do we need to be educated about the choices we “want” to happen, but the choices that “may” happen during the course of a child being born.  It is not enough to research and only validate one set birth plan.  It is not enough to think that nothing else will happen, simply because you are “strong.”  You need to be educated, educated in all possibilities, not just the ones that you think, or desire, to happen.

Sometimes, people like to qualify my birth experiences, often pointing to different points in my birth story as the “why” to “what went wrong.”  The truth is, I was not educated enough before going into the birth of my first child.  Sure, I had read EVERYTHING I could about childbirth, had attended birth classes faithfully, brought a list of questions to each Doctor’s appointment, engaged in conversation with my colleagues, friends and family.  But, that wasn’t enough.  Because the pervasive societal push is for natural, unadulterated, childbirth, omitted in mainstream literature are the gritty, nasty, true, and possible emotional and physical ramifications of a birth gone awry.  Too often, these stories are looked at as outliers, and sometimes even, scare tactics, where mothers are blamed for choosing too many interventions, or babies are blamed for malposition.

Yes, I might scare you, and if I do, good.  Maybe then you’ll seek to find out more.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Living with Chronic Disease

At our most recent support group, we discussed living with chronic disease.  Our guest speaker, a mental health professional that focuses on chronic disease, was extremely helpful in guiding our conversation.  I guess it’s difficult for me to think of my condition, of fecal incontinence, as chronic disease.  However, as with most bowel disorders experienced in our support group, the waxing and waning of symptoms throughout my life would define it as such.

Chronic disease and it’s impact on mental health can be severe.  As I have shared before, mental health professionals and therapy were pretty heavy components in my healing journey from both the physical and mental ramifications of the birth trauma.  In dealing with a condition day after day, a condition that is chronic, one needs to supplement their mental fortitude with strength from others as well as within.  It’s not easy for me to know that I will be fecally incontinent for life.  However, the facts remain that my sphincter is damaged, and without medical intervention, like the Interstim, I would be completely incontinent of feces.  The fact remains that to this day I have good days and bad (mostly good), as well as a medical device that contains a battery that will have to be changed throughout my lifetime.  The fact remains that I continue to have diet modifications, as well as, pelvic floor exercise suggestions that I am supposed to follow on a daily basis.  The fact remains, I am living with a chronic disease, that, although manageable, can alter both physical and mental outlook.

So, what do you do when you realize that you are living with a chronic disease?  According to our speaker, the number one realization that you need to make is that your mind and body are connected.  So, even though your mind isn’t “causing” your physical body ailment, your mind can alleviate some of you physical symptoms, or in turn, make them a lot worse.  Emotional distress can be the very thing that contributes to chronic disease symptomology getting physically worse.  By recognizing this fact, often in treatment, one can pay attention to emotional stressors, thereby problem solving and potentially increasing tolerance for the emotional distress so as not to have it manifest itself physically.

Too often, our anxiety about a chronic disease creates a negative feedback loop that, in turn, creates real physical problems, exacerbation on the underlying chronic illness.  It is only in recognizing this phenomenon that we can continue to heal our minds, in an effort to live with minimal disruption of chronic disease.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

My “Adult” Movie

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of engaging in a video shoot for Medtronic Interstim device for fecal incontinence.  This video will serve to bolster Medtronic’s website for fecal incontinence by providing a real face, and story, to the issue.  In coming to my hometown, Medtronic was able to interview me, my doctor, and my family, and capture the impacts on all of our lives from this phenomenal device.

After giving authorization, my family was included in the taping of this promotional video.  In basing this video in reality, I thought it important to give the go ahead for my family to be portrayed.  When trying to explain to my 6 year old daughter what the purpose of this video was, I found myself stumbling over concepts she may be too young to understand.  When asked the question by my daughter, “Will this video be on TV for us to see?”  I was able to give the easy answer of “No, it will be on the computer, on a website.”  When asked the question by my daughter, “Will my friends be able to watch me?”  I was able to answer, “Well it’s like an adult movie.”  In summation, my daughter concluded, “Oh, OK, so we are making an adult movie for the computer website…cool, can’t wait to tell my teacher.”

UH Oh.  Adult movie, computer website.  I am seeing here that she requires more clarification.  I show her my scar and proceed to tell her that the video is about “mommy’s surgery” and we will help tell others that need the surgery that they can get it and be happy and healthy families.  Phew, bullet dodged.  Although, frankly, sometimes talking about incontinence does have the same stigma as talking about “adult” movies.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

This is Me

I am a woman.  I am a daughter.  I am a sister.  I am an educated individual.  I am a wife.  I am a mother.  I am an advocate.  I am me.

I am me.  But, does everyone know the real me?  Sometimes I feel as though I keep a major part of my life locked away, accessible to only those who I know will not judge nor stigmatize.  Since the obstetric trauma, in March 2008, I feel as though I have compartmentalized pieces of myself.  In starting my blog, in August 2011, I became an advocate.  Though largely anonymous, my blog seeks to expose people to the very real ramifications of birth trauma, both emotional and physical.  My journey in blogging led me to becoming a Patient Ambassador for Medtronic Interstim therapy, and a facilitator for our local bowel disorders support group.  These two endeavors allow me to continue my advocacy in a somewhat sheltered and “safe” environment.  Safe from judgement, safe from ridicule, safe from potential embarrassment.

I’m ready for more.  Too often, very real medical issues are glossed over in society because of an “ick” factor, a stigmatization.  I am ready to be a face of birth trauma, of fecal incontinence after childbirth, of PTSD after childbirth. This is me.  I am a real person.  I am a young women.  I suffered obstetric trauma.  I became incontinent of feces.  I suffered PTSD after childbirth.   I got the help I needed.  I attended therapy.  I became an advocate.  I am a woman of triumph. I am ready to share.

I am ready to share with all.  I’m ready to really “expose” myself in the hopes that I may reach people who may never have the courage to seek the help they need without having a very real person to relate to.  I am ready.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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

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

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

 

 

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 Perfect Birth

Birth without trauma.  Birth in which the mother and baby are healthy and happy.  Birth which leaves no lasting ramifications, either physical or emotional.  A Perfect Birth.  That’s what I have now experienced with the birth of my son.

Going into birth this time, I was ready.  Ready, educated, and excited.  My pregnancy before this delivery was rocky, to say the least.  Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction, two hospital stays due to illness, and a last-minute run around regarding getting the delivery I wanted (and needed) posed real issues for me.  However, the delivery, a delivery that myself and my doctor agreed to be most beneficial to mother and baby, was such that it set up “a perfect birth.”

My son’s birth story:

I went into the hospital at 11:30, with the understanding that the c-section would take place at 1:00.  I was 38 weeks, 2 days and with no indications of imminent labor, I understood that my surgery could be “pushed” for emergency patients.  I was made comfortable while waiting for my turn, and an IV was inserted, and any questions I had were answered.  A little after 1:00, I was wheeled into the delivery room.  I walked myself to the bed and was told how to sit for an effective spinal.  All the while, the medical professionals present were kind, understanding, supportive, and reassuring.  My spinal was placed without incident and then I was instructed to lie down.  Once numbed, I was happy to see my husband arrive by my head.  And then, the incision, the surgery, and less than 8 minutes from first incision, my baby boy’s screams as he was born.  Perfect baby boy, who was immediately shown to me and then checked out by the nurses (with my husband by his side and in the same room).  Once wrapped up, my husband held him by my head as they stitched me up.  All the while I felt cared for, informed, and respected.  A complete opposite to my previous birth experience.  My husband, baby, and I ventured to recovery together where I was able to effectively breastfeed and bond with the newest member of our family.  Later that evening, my daughter joined us and our family of four was “officially” all together.

Since the birth, I have managed my pain and was off all pain killers within the first week.  I am able to walk now with the symphysis pubic dysfunction drastically diminished.  I have nothing but positive memories of the birth and my daily interactions reflect positivity.  I am looking forward to noting my progress at my 6 week check-up.  The baby is doing wonderfully as well.  Over eight pounds at birth, he continues to thrive, both feeding and sleeping as well as a 3 and 1/2 week old should.

The support I have had for this birth experience was immeasurable.  Thank you all.

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

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