Jennifer J’s Story, Texas

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I was 27 years old, a lawyer for the state, and had read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”, other literature, and was subscribed to the BabyCenter website for my weekly updates. So in short, at the time of my first child’s birth, I was a highly educated, well-prepared and well-insured mother. I remember reading about episiotomies and possible tearing, but remember nothing that described the possible consequences of that happening.

During pregnancy, it was discovered that my child had a birth defect that required surgery. I was induced at 38 weeks to get him out so that he could start growing and be stronger for a surgery he would have at 6 weeks old. I chose not to have an epidural, and during delivery, the doctor did make a cut to help get his OVER 99th percentile sized head out. That came through and then the little stinker blocked his shoulders off on me and literally “tore me a new one” as I like to joke. The OB stitched me up, and all seemed well for a little while (maybe a month?).

Unfortunately, I apparently didn’t heal all the way up. I started feeling gas come out of my vagina. And then realized when I defecated that stool was oozing through my vagina as well. I ended up with a yeast infection and went back to my OB. They were so uninformative and unhelpful. This was a doctor I had been seeing for years and who I loved, but I got the distinct feeling they were so afraid of being sued, that they didn’t want to fully inform me about what was happening to my body. I cried in the office until I got them to refer me to a colo-rectal surgeon. The visit to that office was interesting. I walked into a waiting room full of octogenarians and I was 27!

The doctor, a man, had me up on the examining table and acted like I was crazy. He couldn’t find anything wrong, I looked completely fine, he said. I refused to accept that. I replied “I don’t think passing gas and pooping out of my vagina is completely fine!” He decided to take another look and called his nurse in to help. He still couldn’t see where the hole was, but thank goodness for me, the nurse found it! He scheduled a fistula repair surgery and informed me that I would likely be incontinent by the time I was 50. Thanks.

That surgery took place three months after my child was born. I pretty much went a year without having sex with my husband because I felt so messed up down there. Today, I am 41, that child is about to head to high school, and I still have some issues with that area of my body. I am grateful that toilet wipes have been developed and that the squatty potty was invented. The colo-rectal surgeon also recommended wiping with lotion on toilet paper which really helps sometimes. I still feel like the fistula opens up, but then perhaps it’s just PTSD. Regardless, I take extra care of myself in that area and it seems to heal again.

I still am amazed that I even thought for a moment that I could be wrong in thinking pooping out of my vagina was not normal! Women need to be told that that is not a normal side effect of a vaginal delivery. They need to understand that the doctor may be trying to save their own hide over making sure you completely recover.

Jennifer Jackson ~ Austin, Texas, USA

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