Having three cesareans never bothered me until they did.
To bring light to a very important area of women’s health during Women’s Health month I am sharing more about my personal journey in this three part series blog. Far too many women are suffering, and most of them are doing so in silence. I hope by sharing my story I can help change that and let women know that they are not in this alone.
I will never forget being rolled back to the operating room in that German hospital after being in labor all day. One nurse was trying to get me to drink something from a brown bottle and the other was trying to get my compression socks on.
The entire experience was scary.
From the moment I walked into the hospital wondering how in the world my baby was going to come out of my vagina. I was terrified! The baby that my doctor told me over and over again just that morning “was very big.” I had so much fear around birth, from pain to the language barrier, to the fact that this was my first time. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. It’s crazy to look back and not quite understand how I did it two more times after that first experience. Having cesareans never bothered me until I started having symptoms that were hard to ignore.
Disappointed with my body
I never realized how disappointed I was with my body until I started paying attention to it again. For years I never touched my scar or really ever looked at it. Then I started leaking and thankfully at this point in my journey to healing I had already found MUTU. This was never a symptom of mine before, but I knew it wasn’t normal so I made an appointment with a women’s health PT right away. The first thing we worked on was getting more mobility around the area of my scar. Everything was so tight and stuck. It was no surprise to my PT that I had a grade 1 bladder prolapse. Again, this is nothing to be scared of but instead, be sure to have the resources to be in control of this symptom. It was a little mind blowing at first that I had a prolapse especially since I had never delivered a baby vaginally. I am living proof that no matter how you had your baby rehab is so important!
Working with my women’s health PT
I spent the next many weeks working one on one with my PT and she did a lot of myofascial release on my scar and we got things more mobile and everything was starting to feel better! I wish someone would have told me much sooner how to care for my cesarean scar. Like most women, I was cleared at my six week appointment to go back to normal activity, and that’s exactly what I did. I ran and did crunches with a goal to lose the 60lbs I had gained with each pregnancy. Never really taking the time to properly heal my body. I had major abdominal surgery three times in a little less than five years and was literally never given any guidance on how to properly heal my body.
Lower back pain
Through the years I suffered from chronic lower back pain and it was miserable most days. You could find me on the couch most nights with the heating pad and ibuprofen. This was my new norm. Even when I would go to the doctor about it I was told time and time again that this was completely normal and what did I expect after having babies. That answer seriously disturbs me now knowing what I know. Had someone told me about my core and pelvic floor and how to rehab them then maybe my poor back could have gotten a break. That’s the thing about our bodies. They are so amazing and they will continue to go through the movements of life even when things don’t work as they should. As moms, we will still continue to pick up those babies, do the laundry, go to the store, cook dinner and take care of our family. Even if our core is weak our bodies will continue to go through the motions. This is often where the pain and symptoms occur.
Baby number three
After we had baby number three and our last I had so many problems. Again another very scary experience in a foreign country in a hospital where I didn’t understand the language. My spinal block didn’t work so they kicked my husband out of the room and I was put to sleep while my sweet Monroe was born. I woke up in the recovery room trying to make myself stay awake, but no matter how hard I tried my eyes would not cooperate. The nurses came in to check on me and something wasn’t right. If I had been able to understand what they were saying maybe I could have felt a little in control. All I knew was that my bed was soaked in my blood, my blood pressure was down and everyone around me was freaking out. That recovery from that cesarean was miserable and that day was so scary!
That surgery was different from the first two. I just couldn’t get back to me. I felt exhausted and patiently waited for a little color to come back to my face. My period came so soon even though I was breastfeeding. It was so bad I was not only packing extra clothes for the baby but myself as well. So many of my nutrients were depleted and I never seemed to be able to get my anaemia under control. I felt like a disaster, to say the least. My answers that time were antidepressants. That’s a whole other topic and another blog post. I look back and just shake my head. That was the solution I was given and we weren’t even close to getting to the root of this. I was miserable and like most of us do I listened to and trusted my healthcare provider. On top of everything else in true military style, my husband was also gearing up for yet another deployment. This would leave me alone in Germany with three kids under five to care for on my own for the next nine months.
Being a milspo
Over the years, between motherhood and being a military spouse, I was simply in survival mode. I dealt with my “issues” the best I could and there was really no time for me and to figure out what I really needed. Two years after Monroe was born we moved back to the states. I finally felt like I would have some time to focus on me and figure out what was going on.
This point and time I was still in constant pain. My back hurt every day, I was bloated all of the time, I had to pee all the time and my periods would sometimes last up to 14 days. I was depressed and exhausted and didn’t feel right in my own skin. Something was wrong but time and time again I was basically given the shrug of the shoulder and told: “Welcome to motherhood.”
I had picked up a new hobby when my husband was deployed of running and even though it caused me so much pain it was my outlet. It was my quiet time where the only thing I could hear was my breath or my music of choice. I was still battling with my low iron levels and they just kept upping my dose of antidepressant. Due to the dose of my antidepressants, I could no longer have an orgasm and that didn’t help our already not so great sex life. I share this with you because if you are dealing with this as well I don’t want you to think you’re alone.
I went to an OB when we first moved to our new duty station and he made it sound like such an easy fix. He could perform ablation and I would never again have a period. In my situation, this sounded beautiful and like the perfect choice. No more doubling up on super tampons and pads or packing extra clothes. Everything was great for about six months after the procedure, and then I got my period back. I was so frustrated and then the problems came back full force. My next answer from my health care professionals was a hysterectomy. The first time I heard that word I cried. That was so scary to me. I was in my early 30’s and a hysterectomy is the answer?
For three years after that first day, I was told I would need a hysterectomy I went to doctor after doctor. I changed my diet, I went to another women’s health PT, I tried lots of alternative therapies and remedies because I was desperate to fight back against my own body and determined to win! My uterus had other plans and gave me hell the entire time. At one point she started growing, as in getting bigger, and again my answer was a hysterectomy. I had a D&C to try and clean things up and to get a biopsy to see if everything was ok. The biopsy was never taken because I had so much scar tissue they couldn’t get past my cervix. I’m no doctor but that fact that my uterus was growing scared me a lot!
Once again I was left with feeling like we didn’t get to the root of the problem and I found myself right back at square one. In pain, depressed and not feeling like myself. This is not how motherhood should look or feel.
I wanted something to blame for all of this and I started really wishing I would never have had my cesareans. Irritated and let down by my own body for not doing its job and being able to deliver my babies vaginally. I regretted having the ablation and was frustrated with a lot of the decisions I had made.
I did end up having a hysterectomy and you can read all about it in this blog. It was incredibly hard to make that choice and do what was best for my body.
I really believe that surgery should be the last option – and for me, it was mine.