I Wish There Was Joy

December 3, 2015

Oh…will I ever “get over” my sorrow over my birth experience?  I really doubt it…

My computer is set to randomly display photos from my library every 5 minutes.  Last night before I went to bed, a sweet photo of my baby popped up on the screen.  It was taken when he was just 2 days old.

Looking at that photo naturally made me want to look at others…which made me go through the pics of me holding my baby for the very first time.  You might imagine that I’d be smiling in those pictures.  You’d think I’d appear happy…even elated.

Nope.

Unfortunately, looking at those specific pictures elicits a feeling of deep sadness.  I haven’t posted any pictures on this blog before, but I’m posting a couple here because this photo (and there are several more like it) shows exactly how I felt immediately after my baby’s birth.

IMG_2363

You can see how dazed I was.  Can you see how utterly spent I was?  My facial expression is completely hollow.  It haunts me.

This picture was taken at 7:44 PM and my baby was born at 7:08 PM.  This was the first time I got to hold him.  I remember the moment very well, but my memories– just like my vision at the time– are a little fuzzy.

I was “happy” to hold him, yet I felt so exhausted that I had zero ability to really FEEL any joy whatsoever.  And I specifically recall that my positioning was awkward and I could barely bend my right elbow to hold him in a way that I could even see him very well, because of the IV lines in my arm.  I remember feeling annoyed at that.

Looking back, I wonder why no one elevated the head of my bed to help me.  Yet, at the time I didn’t have the energy to care all that much.

Last night I thought about these moments some more.  And for the first time since the birth I pondered this thought:

Why did no one in the room act at all happy when my baby was born?

I don’t remember anyone saying so much as a CONGRATULATIONS!  Did I lose that memory?  Was there any joy in the room at that time?  I don’t think so.  If there was, then I don’t remember it.  And that makes me sad.

My hospital transfer was unexpected.  The OB that cut me and delivered our baby was someone I’d never met before.  She was professional, but she was there to do her job.  I really do owe her the greatest of thanks, though.  Because of her…IT WAS FINALLY OVER.

My midwife and doula didn’t get to be there for the actual birth (one of them took the above picture, which was almost 1/2 hour later).  My husband was there for the birth, but after such a long, arduous wait he was rightfully focused primarily our baby’s well being.  In fact, he alerted the medical staff to some concerning twitches.  Shortly after I held our baby, he went to the NICU.

If you read the full birth story (you can search for it in this blog), then you also know that my sister and niece were also absent for the birth because I was transported to the hospital by ambulance and they had to travel by car (separate from my husband.)  They didn’t even get to see baby before he was moved to the NICU.

I recall that my sister could only say how very sorry she was that I had to go through such a difficult birth.  After such a trying day, it seemed that literally NONE of us could feel the joy that should have completely filled the room.

The lack of joy is what I grieved for yesterday.  When I look at the photos, all I see is the emptiness.

In an effort to heal from this, I need to make a list of what I wish would have happened…

  • I wish I could have felt joy while I held him.
  • I wish I was smiling in our first picture together.
  • I wish I had a “first family picture” of the 3 of us, smiling.
  • I wish I’d heard (or remembered) “Congratulations!!”
  • I wish someone had helped me get positioned so that I could have comfortably and effectively held my baby.
  • I wish I could have seen him better when I held him for the first time.
  • I wish I’d been emotionally present and not detached.
  • And I wish for so much more…

As I continue to harbor these painful feelings, but as I try to focus on everything’s that positive instead, I transfer my focus to the first times that I DID feel joy following the birth.  Looking at this picture does bring me peace.  It was taken 2 days later, just before we were discharged from the hospital.

IMG_4163 I have other joyful pictures, too.  Of my husband holding baby.  Of the first time my niece held baby.  I have joyful memories that weren’t captured in pictures.

Am I glad that I have those very first pictures of me with baby?  Yes and no.

I am healed?

Still working on it…

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Encouraged

10-03-15

Have you ever read something on a forum that was posted 1, 3, 5 (or more) years ago and you wonder…

  • How is that person doing now?
  • Did that person’s issue get resolved? How?
  • WHERE is the update?

Today I did a Google search that eventually lead me to this forum thread.  The reason I bring it up is because the OP (original poster) of that thread actually DID come back on to post an update to her status…3 years after her original post.  Very nice!

It was encouraging to read that it took her almost 3 years to “heal and revert back to a more normal stage.”  Since I’m “only” 13 months into my post-partum healing, that gives me lots of hope.

She also mentioned that it can take 2 years after childbirth to heal.  And by the way– I keep hearing that “2 year” time frame being mentioned.  I have no idea what the source for that is, though.  (A quick Google search just now didn’t give me any answers.)

Clearly, it does take a long time to heal from a difficult childbirth.  I know that from experience because I’m still experiencing progress at the 13.5 month mark.  So it’s completely believable that it could take up to 2 years.

But hearing someone say that things took even longer than 2 years brings me even more hope and more peace.  At this point I’m perfectly patient!  As long as my progress continues, it doesn’t really matter to me exactly how long it takes.

Sure– I want very, very much to simply feel normal again, NOW.  Yet, at this point I’m used to feeling the way that I feel.  Some would say it’s the “new normal,” but I’m not saying that yet!  I’m still striving for normal normal!

I do have a happy, satisfying life even though I deal with (mild) prolapse symptoms nearly 100% of the time.  I can easily wait out another 1.5 years of healing.  Patience is my middle name!  Patience = Peace.

I am healed.

The Good & Bad of Episiotomy

10-02-15

I started this post with a different topic in mind, but I ended up changing it to this.  I guess tonight I just want to write down, for the record, that I have a sort of love/hate relationship with my episiotomy.

The love…

Episiotomy SAVED me.  It was what allowed my baby to be FINALLY be born.  It put an END to my childbirth suffering.  It allowed me to REST after an exhausting almost 5 hours of pushing.  It was the BEST thing ever…at the time.

The hate…

Did my episiotomy put an end to one form of suffering, only to initiate a different and worse form of suffering?  How much of my post-partum pain, prolapse, discomfort and mental anguish was actually caused by the procedure that was so necessary and so helpful at the time?

You see the love/hate?

I do know, for sure, that my episiotomy was absolutely necessary at the time.  There’s no question in my mind about that.  Sure– there were things that could have been done differently in the hours and days leading up to my baby’s birth.  Sure– if a different set of actions had been carried out (the subject of another post), then my episiotomy could possibly have been prevented.

But circumstances– as they were– required it.  That was that.  It happened.

I know I’ll never know how different I would have felt post-partum if I hadn’t had the added trauma of episiotomy.  I’ll never know if my prolapse symptoms from early post-partum up to the present would be worse, better, or the same if I hadn’t been cut.

Playing the “what-if” games in my head isn’t a good way to infuse myself with a feeling of peace.  I know that.  However– I find that writing things down helps me LET GO of a degree of the negativity.

If I keep the thoughts floating around in my head, then they remain active.  The floating thoughts impede the emotional component of my healing process.  On the other hand, once I get pesky thoughts out, I have a real chance of surrendering to “what is” and moving on.

I love my episiotomy.
I love that it brought my baby into this world.
I love that it brought my tortuous childbirth experience to an end.
I love that my wound healed without complications (without infection…or worse).
I love that my scar hasn’t given me any trouble.
I love that I’ve never had painful sex because of my scar (like many women deal with).
I love that episiotomy was the only “surgery” I had to endure.

I hate my episiotomy.
I hate that I needed to have it.
I hate that my body was cut into.
I hate that my vaginal tissues were altered.
I hate not knowing exactly what role my episiotomy played in the cause of my prolapse/prolapse symptoms.
If my episiotomy isn’t to blame for my prolapse symptoms then I hate blaming the wrong thing.

To move on and move forward with my healing 100% it appears that I need to RELEASE the negative idea that because a certain muscle in my perineum was cut, then the consequence is “I’ll never completely heal.”

FALSE!!

I don’t know that.  Just because it’s a thought in my head doesn’t mean it’s true.  My body has the capacity for healing in ways that I can’t possibly understand.  It has a resilience that is truly awesome.  It’s constantly working toward being WHOLE.

So I’m going to end this post reminding myself of this:

Thoughts are just thoughts.  They are not necessarily true.
Now, that is a peace-provoking thought.

I am whole.
I am healed.

 

 

Pushing During Childbirth

09-13-15

Yesterday I made a very important discovery.  I think I found out why I ended up with prolapse following childbirth.  As I mentioned in my “About” page, the process to birth my baby required over 4.5 HOURS of pushing, which culminated in having an episiotomy because my baby– although crowning forever-– just wasn’t coming out.

I always thought that it was simply a function of the sheer number of hours pushing that caused my problem, coupled with the fact that at the end, my pushing was desperate and as forceful as I could make it.

In reality, I know that multiple factors probably came into play, but as I read the following article I had a real A-HA moment.

PREVENTING MATERNAL INJURY DURING CHILDBIRTH
Christine Kent, Whole Woman, Inc

Here is the part of the article that really spoke to me:

“Careful examination revealed that rather than weak tissue being unable to support the birthing process, it is often strong tissue offering resistance to the dynamics of labor that cause the majority of maternal injury.”

“Nichols and Randall observed that most birthing women do not have the urge to bear down with their contractions until the fetal head (or breech) begins to distend the pubococcygeus muscle. By this time the cervix is fully dilated and the presenting part can easily descend into the vagina with the force of contractions. The doctors gave very clear warnings of the damage most likely to occur if a woman were coached to push too early,”

And the article goes on to explain in more detail.

YES!

I was instructed by my midwife to push right when I was at 10 cm dilation.  At 9.5 cm, my midwife helped my baby’s head over an anterior cervical lip that was apparently causing an obstruction.

I NEVER, EVER FELT THE URGE TO PUSH.  NOT ONCE!  NOT EVER!

I felt completely uncoordinated with pushing.  I relied on my **midwife’s guidance 100%, and I remember telling her repeatedly that I just didn’t feel like I knew when to start and when to stop pushing.  This went on and on and on, seemingly without an end in sight.

It was postulated that perhaps baby wasn’t tucking his head OR perhaps he just barely fit through my pelvis OR perhaps his hands were up beside his ears (he constantly did that as a newborn) OR perhaps…???

My midwife said my pushes were STRONG and baby’s head made visible progress with each push, but in between pushes the head would go back in.  She specifically told me that it wasn’t because I was weak.  Who knows what the hang up was, but eventually my baby was born immediately after the cut.

But now I have to wonder if my problems were caused at least in large part because I started pushing WAY TOO SOON.

Putting more pieces of the puzzle together gives me a degree of peace, even though it doesn’t change the past.  My body felt literally tortured during childbirth, but now…

I am healed.

(**Note that I don’t blame my midwife for my current problems.  I don’t have any hard feelings toward her whatsoever.  Hindsight is 20/20 as they say.  During my post partum healing, she knew of my difficulties.  She said she thought about my birth a lot.  I know that she was probably second guessing her decisions just as much as I was playing the “what if” game.)