Linda’s Story, Arizona

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Where do I even begin…Let’s start at the very beginning. For you to truly understand the context of my recovery you should know my story from the start. My husband and I started trying to conceive in 2015. After a year of trying to get pregnant without success I visited my doctor who ran tons of tests for about 6 months. They never found a reason as to why we couldn’t conceive, both my husband and I were healthy. I must add that that those years were some of the hardest years, it took a toll on me emotionally. In July 2017 I underwent a laparotomy surgery to remove dermoid cysts located in both ovaries. This type of surgery required a c-section type incision just to give you an idea. I recovered very well, with minimal pain. We continued to try to get pregnant and finally 3 years from the start of it all we finally conceived. One of the happiest days of my life was finally seeing that positive line pop up on that pregnancy test. The new journey began!

Pregnancy was quiet uneventful for me, aside from the normal aches and pains that come towards the end. Those 9 months were some of the happiest months, just knowing that I would finally have what I had been dreaming of for years made me all giddy inside. On December 15th 2018 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl weighing in at 8lbs 7oz. I arrived at the hospital at about 5 am, she was born 3 hours later with only 20 minutes of pushing. My birth was pretty much everything I imagined it to be. I decided to go unmedicated, and I am so proud that I was able to do that. My nurses and doctor were amazing through my whole labor, I couldn’t have asked for a better team. After my daughter made her way into the world she was laid on my chest, and let me just say, It was the most amazing feeling in the world. As I laid there with her, soaking up how beautiful she was, I was informed by my doctor that I had sustained a fourth degree tear. Man, I will never forget those words. In that moment I didn’t care at all. I was just in bliss after going through the most amazing experience of my life. I was stitched up in the delivery room, it took about an hour to finish. I am so thankful I was allowed to stay with my daughter the whole time, as I now know that not all mamas who sustained the same type of tear are able to do so. After my Doctor finished the stitching I was transferred to my maternity recovery suite. I was quite famous in the hospital that day, every one knew I was that one mama who had an unmedicated birth and tore all the way through to her bumhole (just to put it lightly for you). I had nurses coming in to tell me how amazing I did and I even had a few call me a “badass” It really made a worlds difference in my labor experience. My OB made a visit later in the day, he explained that I had sustained a fourth degree perineal laceration. He believed that I tore to that extent because I had a short perineum, he preceded to inform me that my type of tear went through my anal sphincter and informed me on what I should and shouldn’t do while I recovered. I was given stool softeners, Tylenol and percocet and told not to strain and avoid constipation as that could make the stitches break. I was discharged the next day and home we went, with our happy little dream finally in our arms.

Back at home things did not go how I envisioned at all. I was in immense pain. I could not sit properly to breastfeed my daughter and to top it off she would not latch and was losing too much weight. Throw in the postpartum hormones and I was a mess. Things were hard, really hard. The physical trauma I had sustained while giving birth was finally hitting me. I googled everything and anything I could find about my type of tear and boy was I terrified. I was so scared about having issues like fecal incontinence or any type of break down with stitches. I found a website that states that 60-80% of women were asymptomatic after 12 months. I worried so much, I cried every day for about a month, I wondered what my future would look like. I don’t know if the universe hates me or what, but to top it all off with a cherry on top I developed pubic symphysis dysfunction right after labor! You know what that feels like? It feels like you are literally going to split in half with any step you take. I could not properly walk for about 2 weeks. My husband had to almost carry me to the restroom or anywhere I needed to go.I basically lived on my couch for the first month. I could only lie on my side as the pain of my tear and PSD did not allow for any other position. I was devastated! It was beyond hard to care for my daughter and I am so glad I had my husband and family’s help those first weeks. I laid there for days on end crying along with my newborn. She cried because she was in a whole new world and I cried because I had what I always dreamed of but my world felt like it was falling apart. Those first three months were probably the hardest for me. I was so happy but miserable at the same time. How could someone be both? I recovered from PSD after three months of pelvic therapy and the pain associated with the tear was pretty much gone by 8 weeks postpartum. I questioned the universe and God why this had happened to me? Why me? During pregnancy I feared tearing but I never imagined that I would suffer the worst possible tear. It only happens to 1-3% of vaginal births so why was I so lucky? There’s no real reason to explain my tear. A lot of these types of tears happen with forceps/vacuum deliveries, shoulder dystocia, and I had neither. I unhealthily obsessed over this. I think that’s one thing that made recovery so hard. I wished so badly that my tear hadn’t been so severe. I hadn’t read about too many positive long term outcomes so I thought I would never get better. (Seriously google it)

Here I am almost 9 months later and I can say I am doing much better than I was in the beginning. I do still have some minor issues that remind me of my trauma. Intercourse is quite uncomfortable, due to having a very tight pelvic floor associated with my physical/emotional trauma but I am working on that with a wonderful pelvic floor therapist. I did develop a mild bladder prolapse a couple months after labor, and that was very hard for me to hear. Still trying to mentally come to terms with it. Although I know anyone can suffer from pelvic organ prolapse after a baby, I can’t help but to blame my tear. I hope that with time I continue to heal, I can say that I am physically feeling better and I consider myself very lucky because of it as I know other women have even harder recoveries and complications. The hardest part for me has been the mental aspect of it all. The never ending thoughts and constant wishing things would have been just a little different. The not knowing if I will ever have another child again because It would probably cause more damage. I struggle with letting go of my situation and I know that prevents me from moving on but in reality I don’t think I will ever fully move on. I will never fully be the same as I was before. I am learning to love my new self, and learning to deal with my new struggles. This is my new “normal” and at some point I will just have to make peace with that. Even after all of it, every single bit, every single tear, every single worry, every bit of pain I would do it over and over again a million times if I had to! Every single part that led me to my daughter was worth it! I will forever be thankful that my daughter is healthy and a happy thriving baby. I am thankful to be a mother. I could honestly write a book on this, but I hope this small part of my story helps someone out there who needs it. I am only 8 months out, but hope that one day I can look back and say “ Dang, look how far I have come”. I believe that everything happens for a reason even if you never find out why.

Linda G. ~ Arizona

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