Posts Tagged ‘Postpartum’

Automatic

When my PTSD was in full swing, I felt as if my life was on automatic.  Stumbling through the days in a zombie like fashion, I can recall the times between panic attacks as dull, scheduled, the same.  Keeping my routine while suffering with PTSD was very important to me.  Deviations from said routine were anxiety provoking, heart palpitating, sweat inducing experiences that I tried my best to avoid.

PTSD cannot turn on and off.  It’s always there, ready to pop out at any triggering moment.  I found it difficult to acquire new skills, capitalize on my old skills, and create new relationships.  I found it difficult to remember to fill my car with gas, drive new places, create a new recipe for dinner, make new friends, keep up with old friends, do housework, and many more.  In fact, I found it difficult to do anything but sit.  And even that was hard.  Sitting requires relaxing, and relaxing was something my mind could not do unless heavily medicated.

PTSD tears you apart, it tears your relationships apart, it knocks your skill level down, and it devastates your life.  It is not something you can have respite from.  It is something that is locked in your mind, waiting to pounce out when triggered.

Lots of family and friend support, and a competent EMDR therapist will help you emerge from the darkness of PTSD.  Time without therapy does nothing to cure  PTSD, in fact, it only makes it stronger.  Unless you want to be on automatic, with bouts of panic, I encourage you to seek the help you need.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

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Bike Riding

The first time I was seen by a medical professional post birth trauma was 6 weeks later.  As I sat across from my OBGYN, (the same one who delivered me), she first calmly told me I was too bruised to examine.  She then proceeded to tell me about my “normal” delivery and my “normal” recovery and how it would just take time to get back to “normal.”  No mention of physical therapy, fecal incontinence surgery, PTSD treatment, just a condescending statement that “normalcy” would be achieved with time.  She then, offhandedly, remarked-“It’s not like you need to ever ride a bike again.”

WHAT?  Part of my “normal” recovery from my “normal” delivery would impact my ability to ride a bike?  I often think about this statement.  Was my OBGYN placing a thought in my head, a thought that I could reinforce with a nonchalance of “well, it’s not like I need to.”

Well, since then I have switched OBGYN’s, but the switch for the bike statement in my brain was not as easily achieved.  Until now.  I have found a bike seat that I am ready to try.  This bike seat eliminates pressure on the perineum area and claims to be both comfortable and functional for those with pelvic floor issues.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Sometimes, it’s scary

Sometimes, having a mental illness is scary.  For me, mental illness was scary.  Having a mental illness was frightening.  Navigating the path to getting better was downright terrifying.

Having a mental illness often alienates you from the supports you need the most.  Having a mental illness often cripples your ability to seek effective help without support.  A mental illness skews your mindset as to what is “normal,” healthy, and life affirming.

A mental illness makes life difficult.  Having a mental illness in our society is often seen as shameful, thus those suffering with mental illness are often stigmatized.

Having a mental illness is confusing and devastating.  People with mental illness are often alienated and unsupported.

Having a mental illness causes one to be misunderstood.  “She looks OK?” is a common refrain from those who do not truly understand the depth and pain one with a mental illness can experience.

Connecting mental illness as an outcome of childbirth is not easy.  Childbirth is often celebrated in American society as “the happiest day of your life.”  Because of this belief, it is difficult to connect the creation of postpartum mental illness with this time period in a parent’s life.

It is wonderful to begin to see the collective acceptance of society to some postpartum mental illness’.   It is important to keep the flow of information coming about postpartum mental illness in an effort to make all postpartum mental illness’ part of society’s collective knowledge.  Only then will resources, effective therapies, and society support be commonplace.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Is she OK?

Yesterday, my daughter ran away from me.

We were in the locker room bathroom at a local gym.  She flipped the lock (as I was using the bathroom), ran out, and hid herself. (in a locker)

As what seemed like the longest three minutes ever passed by, where I frantically searched, cried, yelled her name, I heard a scuffling in the locker next to me.

It was her.

It seems fitting that the panic of losing her, the stress of not knowing if she was OK, the fear of never holding her again, all fell on her day of birth, the day of my trauma, and the day where I experienced similar, if not identical feelings, 4 years ago.

I guess we never lose that feeling when we feel our children are in danger. 

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Tears and Tears

Tears and Tears.  Words that sound the same, but mean very different things.  Tears (torn) and Tears (crying).  For me, there is a huge correlation between these two homophones.

When you have a baby vaginally, there is a risk that you will tear.  Recently, I came across a website that shows diagrams of vaginal tears in childbirth.  This slide show is an essential viewing point for anyone who wishes to understand visually the physical trauma of a tear.  Feel free to view here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-tears/PR00143

Although vaginal tears are common during vaginal birth, the severity of the tear and the “how to” of the repair differ.  In her blog, Dr. Amy-The Skeptical OB, Dr. Amy Tuteur talks about the ability to midwives to repair tears during vaginal birth. You can read her take on tearing here http://skepticalob.blogspot.com/2012/02/vaginal-tears.html.

As a recipient of a third degree tear in a hospital setting, I am curious about the ability of my doctor to repair my tear during my forceps assisted vaginal birth.  According to the mayo clinic slide show, the repair for my tear should have been a bit more extensive and done with a little more care.  Maybe it should have even been done in an operating room rather than at the foot of my delivery bed.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-tears/PR00143&slide=4

Tears often follow tearing.  For me, the physical pain of the initial tear as well as the physical and emotional consequences that follow such a trauma created lots of tears.  It is my hope that midwives and doctors understand the long-term ramifications of diagnosing and repairing a tear correctly.  My tear was not repaired correctly, nor was I given the postpartum support necessary for the tear I sustained.  Luckily, I managed, on my own, to get to a rectal surgeon, and ultimately, to Interstim, to treat the incontinence issues that began with my tear.

Thanks for reading,

Lauren

Anticipation

A huge part of PTSD is anticipatory anxiety.  This is a diagnosis that entails the anticipation of a trigger being so bothersome that one avoids and panics over situations that may or may not happen in the future (but to the person seem imminent).

I am finally able to say that I am rid of my anticipatory anxiety. How do I know this? Because this is what used to happen…

Prior to this year, each time the calendar would flip to February, I would begin to obsessively fret over the upcoming anniversary of the birth trauma.  March 12, my daughter’s birthday AND my worst nightmare.  March 12…the build up was agonizingly terrifying.  Extreme nightmares, numerous panic attacks, involuntary facial tics, uncontrollable emotions, just to name a few of the PTSD symptoms exacerbated with anticipatory anxiety.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to be internally fighting for control of my triggers (and losing) while trying to put on a happy face for my family.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to cry all morning, grieving my loss, wallowing in my situation, and then trying to act functional when she blew out her candles later in the day.

Prior to this year, my daughter’s birthday was a time for me to remember how far I had to go to get back to “normal” and reflect on the fact that I was not where I want to be.

This year-it’s time to celebrate.  My daughter will be 4.  I am well.  Let’s blow out those candles and make a wish!

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

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

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

Advocacy is the Key

I’ve found that advocacy, ME being an advocate, is the key to my healing.  Believe me, I am not discounting the endless hours of therapy, medical surgical advances, tears, and strife that I have gone through by wrapping it up in a neat little package of being an advocate.  It is because of those things that I can be an advocate.  It is because I recognize the pain, both physical and emotional, that I can relate to, empathize with, and educate those in similar situations. 

Being in my own little corner of the blogging world, I can begin to reach out to others in a way that I was not able to before.  I appreciate all of the connections that I am making with my statements, and urge the followers of my blog to reach out and the name of my blog to others that may be needing support.  The thing about fecal incontinence and PTSD as a result of childbirth is that it is mainly a hidden, almost taboo, subject so you never really know who needs to be reached and when!  It is my hope that my blog can erase the taboo nature of birth trauma and educate the medical community and our peers about a very real problem in our society.

Thanks for Reading,

Lauren

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