My name is Lindsae and I am 35 years old. In January 2020 my husband and I decided that we were going to try for a baby and by February 7th; I was pregnant. My pregnancy was actually pretty easy up until delivery and postpartum. I had slightly elevated blood pressure prior to pregnancy and was on a super low dose of medication pre-pregnancy and on a low dose of zoloft for anxiety. When I found out I was pregnant I stopped taking both medications however my anxiety went a bit overboard so I went back on a low dose of zoloft for the remainder of my pregnancy. At 36 weeks I was hospitalized for 2 days due to high blood pressure but was diagnosed with moderate pre-eclampsia and due to the elevated blood pressure I was scheduled to be induced at 38 weeks.
I arrived at the hospital at 5pm on Sunday October 4th and started on oral medication to dilate my cervix and by 8:30am the midwife was breaking my water. I walked and bounced on a ball and joked with the labor and delivery nurses. At around 1pm the midwifery student checked my cervix and told me that I had dilated to 7cm and I was shocked. I wasn’t in a significant amount of pain but decided to opt for an epidural because I was not excited to experience the “ring of fire” that I kept hearing about. My epidural was placed and I was checked again around 3pm and was told that I had dilated to 10CM! I was so excited. The nurses brought the delivery bed in and literally had my legs up in the air and a nurse checked me and then apologized profusely. I was only dilated to 4.5cm….. I was horrified. I was now basically bed ridden because of the epidural and I wasn’t even halfway dilated. I was put on pitocin which stopped working around 1am and had to be turned down and then turned back up. I sloooowwwllllyyy dilated 10cm and by 5:30am on the 6th I was ready to push. I pushed for nearly 3 hours. My epidural partially failed. I don’t really remember the last hour or so of pushing. I just remember sobbing, yelling that I had nothing left to give and begging for someone to cut the baby out of me. At 8:15amthe room filled with ALOT of people and a little italian OB came and told me that my job was to push and she was going to pull. She used the forceps and after 2 or 3 pushes my son was born. I was told that I had a 2DT and was stitched up.
3 days later I was discharged home. My stitches were checked. I had also given myself a hemorrhoid trying to poop before I was discharged. I couldn’t walk. I was a physically broken human. My son’s doctor (who is also my doctor) came to the hospital and prepared me for an extended recovery time due to the trauma of my labor and delivery. I was sent home on a Thursday and I felt like death. I was the weakest I had ever been and I was in the most pain I had ever experienced. On Saturday morning around 3am I woke up and realized that the tickle that I had in my throat was now a “rattle” when I breathed in, it was hard to breathe and my heart was pounding so hard that my chest was physically moving. I looked at my husband and calmly told him that I needed emergency medical attention and I asked my brother to drive me to the emergency room. I thought I was in heart failure. After spending 5 days in the ICU I was diagnosed with severe postpartum preeclampsia and I was a freaking mess. I asked to be discharged with the pre-pregnancy dose of zoloft that I was on and to speak to a therapist.
After being home for about 5 days the vaginal swelling had gone down considerably and due to all of the laxatives and stool softeners I was on, I was experiencing pretty loose stools. By the following Monday (13 days pp) I started to suspect that I was passing stool out of my vagina. The amount was significant and I tried to convince myself that it was normal and I was fine…but I wasn’t fine. I called a friend of mine who is a midwife and she told me that it would be incredibly rare to have this type of postpartum issue. I called my midwife’s office and asked for an appointment. No one called me back to make the appt that day. The next night I was sobbing and a hot mess. My vagina was raw and the skin was broken and everything hurt. I called the on-call line at 10pmsobbing and it was my midwife who was on call. She apologized and told me that I needed to be evaluated by an OB and that she would get me in the next day. My close friend drove me in and at 2 weeks pp I had to have both a speculum and digital vaginal exam as well as a digital rectal exam. The doctor I saw literally stuck his finger into my vagina, through the giant tear between my vagina and rectum and touched my butthole from the inside. I felt vindicated in that moment and then immediately started sobbing and had a full blown panic attack. He told me that I would need surgery and that he would reach out the OB that delivered my son. I was seen by 3 professionals the next day and by a colorectal surgeon the following monday and was in surgery by thursday.
The first attempt at repair was not completely successful. I had 1 or more buttonhole tears inside of my vagina and the largest was 3cm in length. Prior to surgery I experienced daily incontinence and had to rinse my vagina out with the shower head after every bowel movement. I will never forget rinsing part of a green bean out of my vagina. The buttonhole tear was large enough to pass part of a mushroom and a green bean. I was horrified. I was in therapy, I was on an increased dose of meds and terrified to be left alone. I was afraid that I was going to die at any given moment and avoided bonding with my infant son because I didn’t want him to be traumatized when I died.
Those first 6 weeks pp were some of the darkest times in my life. I am so thankful for my family and friends for taking care of me when I could not take care of myself. I am thankful for the OB who called me several times a week to check in on me. Including evenings and weekends. I am thankful for my therapist.
I am 7months pp now. I still have more surgeries in my future and I still struggle with passing stool through my vagina. Mentally, some days are better than others but there are more good days than there are bad. Birth trauma is so real and I don’t know how women are expected to return to work 6-12 weeks after literally bringing life into the world. I will always share my story and vocally advocate for more postpartum support for women. There should be significantly more education about postpartum recovery.
Lindsae Kish ~ Bangor, Maine