Posts Tagged ‘Postpartum’

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)

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Warrior Mom

It is a universal truth that women have always given birth.  I often think about my actual birthing situation, and how I would have fared 50, 100, 500 years ago.    My conclusion is always the same; without the intervention that I had, I would have died…my daughter too.  There was just no way she was coming out on her own, forceps or c-section were needed.  There was just no way that without significant medical intervention, such as the right medication and careful monitoring postpartum, that the sustained blood loss I sustained during my postpartum hemorrhage would have been survivable in years past.

Obviously, I am truly glad that we both survived.  However, what people need to realize is that I truly believe, and believed then, was that I was, and my daughter was, in a life and death situation.  Today, there are still many “close calls” in the medical field during the birth of a child, but with the right interventions, it is a general belief that women fare a lot better than in years past.  It is important to note that although the “battle zone” in the birthing room may be one that has improved over the years, traumatic situations can still arise both in the moment and postpartum.  In reading recent message boards, comments, and blogs pertaining to PTSD following childbirth, I have found some very interesting pieces of information pertaining to the belief of the “warrior mom.”

For instance, the Aztecs, believed childbirth to be “a battle” and the mother to be “a warrior.”  It is interesting to see that this belief was part of their culture, and women were glorified in their efforts to bring a child into the world.  Today, Katherine Stone, creator of Postpartum Progress, has heralded the efforts of women as warriors in childbirth and postpartum.  She has a wide selection of postpartum “bling” in an effort to recognize women’s efforts and triumphs in seeking help and overcoming obstacles postpartum.  She is instrumental in perpetuating the belief that the Aztecs held dear so long ago, birthing women are warriors, and need to be glorified as such.
This is the personal “warrior mom” badge I chose to represent my own journey.

Photobucket

http://postpartumprogress.com/survival-badge-bling

 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Confessions…

My confession, I love to read. Recently, I read an awesome book, “Confessions of a Scary Mommy,” by Jill Smokler.  This book is an unbelievably honest take on all things motherhood.  It offers laughs, tears, and insights into motherhood in a way that is free of judgement and completely anonymously authentic.  This book provides a breath of fresh air, because it often expounds upon the things new mothers, and all mothers for that matter, are saying inside their skulls.  Things that are not always the things we say or think aloud.  And that, my friends, is the hilarious part, and the part that makes any new mother feel instantly part of this “scary mommy” community.

Not only is this a great book, it stems from a great blog, Scary Mommy.   Most importantly, there is a portion of this blog geared to “moms in need.”  After writing to Jill, she graciously decided to feature a link to my blog on her blog in an effort to reach those mothers who suffer in silence in regards to physical and emotional birth trauma.  Check it out!  Thanks Jill!

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

So, what do you do?

When meeting someone for the first time, often, the following question arises during the initial small talk, “so, what do you do?”  At times, I struggle to answer this question.  At this point in my recovery, I say “I’m happy to be a stay at home mom.”  However, my lips itch with the urge to spill my guts, to answer in a much more truer sense.  The answer I would love to give is the following, “I’m a stay at home mom.  And, I love it.  However, I am also a teacher. I went to school for many years to obtain this degree.  I achieved tenure because of my good reviews and practice in the classroom. I fought hard to find a job I loved, and I did find that job.  I went back to work when my daughter was 6 months old, and I was OK with that.  Physical and Emotional birth trauma eventually caused me to step out of work on a “medical” leave.  I loved being a teacher.  I still am a teacher.  And, I love being a mom.  The best thing for myself was to leave work to focus on getting myself and my family healed and better.  In fact, I am better now.  And, at this point I choose, not my mind, not my body, I choose to stay home with my daughter.  I will go back to work eventually. ”

Being that answer is often too much, too soon, for casual acquaintances, I often keep that to myself.  But, I do want people to know, people who read my blog, that leaving work was one of the hardest decisions of my life.  For my physical body, the answer was clearly that I should not and could not work.  My fecal incontinence caused numerous accidents throughout the teaching day in which I would need to change my undergarments, take frequent bathroom breaks, feel uneasy about sitting in meetings, and  need to remain in close proximity to a bathroom.  For my mental body, the toll was far worse in my work environment.  Being that pregnant women, the smell of cleaner, and assisting with special education student’s  toileting  needs (ex. cleaning up bowel movements) were triggers rampant in my work environment, anxiety attacks, extreme panic, and the inability to focus were parts of my daily routine in the classroom.

Leaving work was really the only way I could get better.  It took a lot to convince me of this.  It took being escorted to the hospital, from the school’s nurses office, when I thought I was having a heart attack.  (A severe panic attack).  It took being in therapy and realizing the only way I would get better was to stop putting myself in the midst of triggers.  It took me swallowing my pride, to leave a job I loved, and was good at, in an effort to reclaim myself.

And guess what, leaving work was an effective way to assist in my treatment for PTSD.  Removing myself from a constant triggering situation helped me focus on therapy, my family, and myself.  It really was the only way.

Of course, leaving work essentially cut our income in half, caused a change in our health insurance benefits, and manufactured the need for our family to live with and adhere to a budget.  A lot of people assume that going out on “medical leave” means you have some sort of disability payment assistance, especially when the medical leave is “prescribed” by the doctor.  Sadly, that is not always the case.  I still, (2 years later), am fighting to reclaim any disability payments I may have been allotted due to my condition(s).  Luckily, I have a lovely organization that can do this for me (for a small fee).  However, it is important to dispel the myth that “medical leave” automatically means that the person is being financially supported in one way or another during their recovery.  This simply is not true.  Hopefully, at some point I will obtain the disability payments retroactively to support my stretch of “medical leave”, but, that remains to be seen.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

 

A Gift from my Daughter

For mother’s day this year, my daughter filled in a book titled “It’s all about my mom.”  By “filled in” I mean that she provided her answers and my husband scribed the words.

Besides being an awesome gift, the meaning of some of her candid responses struck me.

Some answers were definitely given from a 4 year old’s perspective.  For example:  “My Mom’s favorite flower-my daughter’s response: dandelion.”  “My mom likes to-my daughter’s response, get me a sucker at the bank!”

Other answers seemed wise beyond her years.  This answer caused me to pause, emotionally, for a very long time. “My favorite memory with my mom-my daughter’s response: when mom protected me from getting hurt.” 

After ascertaining that my husband had not fed her that response, I pondered her words. Why was this her response? Does she remember?  Does it matter if she was talking about then or now?  I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never know exactly what instance she was talking about.  I am overjoyed that my daughter knows I will protect her, knows I have protected her, and knows I will continue to protect her.  And that, my friends, is the gift that my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A Letter to My Daughter

So, I recently figured out that one day my daughter may read my blog.  And, I’m OK with that.  In fact, I’m more than OK with that.  However, I want her to read this blog when she is older, and I want her to read this post first.

Dear Daughter,

Please don’t ever feel guilty about what happened to Mom.  It’s not your fault.  I love you with all my heart and would gladly be torn apart again and again just to have your joyful face in our lives.  I cannot tell you how much I have worried that my mental illness and physical ailments could have impacted you in your formative years.  However, all my worry is for naught.  You have grown into a happy, productive, smart, and clever 4-year-old.  A 4-year-old unencumbered by Mommy’s trials and tribulations, but instead, supported by Mom and Dad’s strengths and unconditional love.

You are an amazing human being.  You intuitively recognize the times when Mom needs your help and you give me that extra support.  You provide me with the best reminder that something beautifully grand can come from a  devastating experience.  You fill my heart with joy and love each day.

I love you, sweet girl.

Love, Mommy

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Litigation

When reading my blog and hearing my story, interested parties often ask the question “Did you sue?”   The answer. Yes. and No.

We certainly met with the lawyers.  One.  Two.  Three Lawyers and law firms.  All of the lawyers had the same resounding sentiment about my case.  “A bad result does not always equal a lawsuit.”  All of the lawyers based their ability to build a case upon my shaky testimony (My PTSD impacted my ability to relay my side of the story).  All of the lawyers based their ability to build a case based on the hospital records (which were largely inaccurate and reflected good care by the doctor and hospital).  All of the lawyers based their ability to bring a case based on the time left in the statute of limitations (2 and 1/2 years)-we were approaching this time frame when we were deciding to bring forth the case).  All of the lawyers based their ability to build this case on the fact that there really was no “precedent” case available to judge their success with the case.  All of the lawyers based their ability to build this case against OBGYN’s medical malpractice insurance and the fact that it was rarely penetrable unless the case was totally clear-cut.

All of these lawyers were unwilling to take the risk on my case and convinced me not to take the risk because of the 100’s of thousands of dollars I would shell out, the stress it would put me under, and the stigma I would have attached to me in a very public light during trial.

Do I think it was the right decision to not pursue the case?  I guess it really does not matter what I think, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t speak the legal vernacular to understand if there was any way, shape, or form that my case may have been successful.

I do know that pursing a case in my condition (PTSD) would have been a brutal exercise in self-hatred as I would need to relay triggering events over and over in a very public venue.

I do know that when you need to sign that hospital records are accurate upon discharge-you really are in no condition to look over them with a fine tooth comb for inaccuracies (prior to signing) if you are in shock from a traumatic birth.

I do know that with a statute of limitations of 2 1/2 years, often mothers who suffer with PTSD are not able and willing to pursue a case in a timely manner, thus, often losing their chance.

I do know that there is STILL not a precedent case (that I know of in our area) that brings monetary relief for a women inflicted with emotional birth trauma.

I do know that it is extremely difficult to ever crack into OBGYN’s medical malpractice insurance.

Lastly, I do know that it was never about the money for me.  It was about my doctor saying that she messed up…It was about her saying sorry….It was about her admitting she failed me as a patient both during birth and postpartum…It was about making sure this didn’t happen to other patients.

I’m doing what I can on my end.  I’m trying to spread the word that there is help and hope for those suffering with birth trauma.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to understand how my “case” impacted my doctor and the medical community in which I delivered.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Biking-in the water?

My bike seat for land will be arriving at my house shortly, like, this week.  Glorious!  I can’t wait to strap my ham hocks onto the seat that is created to protect my tender pelvic floor.  I hope it works, fingers crossed! If you are so inclined, feel free to read my earlier post about biking.  I also hope that our weather cooperates.  I don’t know how it’s been where you live, but we have hit mid 70’s one day, snowstorm the next.  Wacky!

One place I do not need to worry about biking in the elements is the gym.  I’d like to be very clear, I’m not talking about “the spin class.”  I tried that, once, before I had my daughter.  I couldn’t walk, for days!  Hmmm, bikes at the gym, that aren’t in a land spin class?  Where are said bikes I speak of?  In the water of course!

Hydro-biking is an amazing workout for those with pelvic floor damage.  The hydro-bike allows you to “spin” and workout with limited pressure on your pelvic area.  It is an awesome resource that I am very lucky to be able to use at the weekly hydro-bike class at the gym.  Kudos to my gym for trying something new.

So, for someone who was told they would never ride a bike again, I say, I CAN and I AM bike riding! (with modifications).

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

A List

On my yahoo homepage today I found a link to an interesting article: 8 Things You Should Never Say to a Mom.  While outlining the obvious, “you look so tired” and stating the always taboo “when are you due?” whilst not confirming the actual pregnancy, the article is a good guide for clueless friends and family for conversing with a new mother.

I offer you my own list titled

“8 Things you SHOULD say to a Mom who has Experienced Birth Trauma”

1.  How can I help?

2.  I can (insert chore here).

3.  Would you like to rest?  Do you need help with your appointments?  I can (insert time to babysit here).

4.  I can bring dinner over.

5.  If you’re interested, here’s a name of (a doctor/website/blog) that may help.

6.  I love you.

7.  I am here.

8.  Again, I love you.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

Spring Cleaning

I’d like to point out-I like to keep sentimental items.  Just so we all know.  I keep things that are nostalgic to me, and believe me, I can find nostalgia in a used napkin if the story behind it is good enough.  Luckily, I have a husband that helps me to clean out, tidy up, and keep the important things so our house does not become one that is profiled on the television show “Hoarders.”

My point-keeping nostalgic items is all well and good unless you have PTSD.  Then, these items often become painful triggers and reminders of trauma.  Until now, items from my daughter’s early years have been piled and shut away without regard to organization in various bins and dressers in our basement storage.  Until now, those items were triggering, awful, reminders of all the stuff I couldn’t do, didn’t do, because of the PTSD.  Until now, the outfit that I took her home from the hospital in was a direct adrenaline rush and full-out panic attack.

Until now.  Today-I organized bins with toys and clothes that have been haphazardly piled willy nilly in our basement.  And guess what-no triggers, no tears, no anxiety.  Only nostalgia.  Nostalgia about the good times, the precious times.  I found the outfit we brought my daughter home in.  Instead of remembering the pain, fear, panic-I recalled the joy of a true miracle.

It is amazing to me that I could do this today.  Ask me about doing this 2 years ago, I would have claimed it to be an impossible task.  Just goes to show what therapy can do for you.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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