katielynn221

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Advertising of Birth

Am I the only one who’s noticed a shift in how baby products are marketed to moms/parents?  There’s a larger emphasis on the “birth story”… I JUST saw a Facebook ad for one company that highlighted all sorts of “different” types of birth stories, which is what sparked this post.  The highlights being more focused on the unmedicated water births, with a brief blip of women in hospital beds or going into surgery.

Why do I seem to have a hard time with these ads?  Cognitively, part of me “gets” why I have a hard time with them – because my birth “plan” (ha!) was so far from my control (and I like controlling situations) that there’s this wistful feeling of failure.  And, I know it’s absurd.  I literally catch myself thinking, “had I just focused on drinking more water, maybe my fluid levels would have been higher” (my son’s sensory processing disorder is theorized to have been triggered by the low fluid levels before delivery).  It’s ridiculous, I know, because with my second successful pregnancy, my fluid levels were fine and it had nothing to do with how much water I was drinking the first time.  And, even if it did, there is absolutely nothing I could do about it now.

Or, I wonder, if the hard part of seeing ads like the one I saw today is because of the beautiful “golden hour” scenes of mommy/baby snuggles immediately following delivery.  I missed those, both times.  It sucks.  And, yeah, I’m bitter about not getting those precious first minutes with my newborn boys.  I’m SO thankful their dad did and that they had a great staff of nurses tending to them.  But, I also hate that I wasn’t there to do the skin to skin snuggles because they were putting me back together… at least the second time I got to stay conscious through the whole thing.  It’s hard for me to be OK missing the first hour of each kid’s life when the reasons were because of my own body’s complications (with my first it was over 2 hours, with my second they brought him in during my 2 hour c-section recovery, but towards the end of it).

I know that in the grand scheme of things, it shouldn’t matter.  Unfortunately, the sensory processing disorder therapies and discussions for my oldest frequently bring up the low fluid and birth trauma/extended separation from mommy often.  The frustration being that he’s so incredibly bright and intelligent and just precious, but struggling in certain aspects because of the SPD interference.   Of course, this ushers in the “If only we hadn’t had a traumatic birth experience” thoughts in my head.  It’s totally selfish on my part, but like any parent, I just don’t want him to have to struggle with his environment and with the world around him.

Maybe I’ll find a sense of peace about this at some point.  It feels a bit absurd that after 6 yrs, I’m not there yet.  But, I’m also in the thick of “friends having babies often” season of life, so it’s ALL still around me a good bit (including the friends struggling with infertility, which is just crappy and hard and breaks my heart for them).  I have friends with older kids who have some distance from the baby-phase of adulthood and I envy them a bit.  Until I get there myself, I’ll keep doing yoga and the other little things (like this blog 🙂 ) that seem to give me a little more sense of peace and perspective.  Namaste friends!

 

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5 years later… and endometriosis

On and off for the past year and half, I’ve been dealing with significant shoulder pain (right shoulder).  I tried my primary care doctor, I went last fall, because I thought I had a joint problem in my shoulder, especially when the pain started shooting down my arm and up my neck and basic ibuprofen was doing little to dull the pain.  She diagnosed me with a spasm in my upper trap muscle, gave me muscle relaxers and sent me to physical therapy.  My PT was awesome and I completed several weeks with techniques to remedy the pain.  It helped… somewhat, until I started my period again the next month.  Every step along the way, I asked them if there was any logical connection to the fact that the pain intensified with my period.

The doctor and the PT weren’t aware of anything that could be triggering it… maybe hormones triggering stress that was triggering the muscle tightness triggering the pain?  I was given a battery of exercises, stretches, and ideas to help me manage the pain whenever it flared up and ways to ideally prevent it from flaring up.  However, no matter what I have done since the fall of last year, after getting physical therapy, nothing has kept the pain from creeping back in each month.  Exercising, drinking more water, eating healthier, etc has helped a little bit, but never really has resolved the problem.  I always know when my period is coming, as the pain in my shoulder starts a few days before.

I finally decided enough was enough last week when I woke up, first day of my period, and my shoulder pain was far worse than my menstrual cramps.  That’s ridiculous and clearly there is a connection if both are hurting so badly at the same time.  So, I decided it was time for Dr. Google!  And, thankfully, Dr. Google did not let me down this time.  I immediately called my OB/GYN office (seriously, it was pretty much as soon as they opened their phone lines) and had to explain to the person handling scheduling that “Yes, I’m calling for an appointment with my gynecologist about my SHOULDER, yes, just hang with me here, I read something on the internet that suggests it is a form of endometriosis”.  My husband thought I was a little crazy and I’m pretty sure that the scheduler that I was totally bananas, but the pain has gotten disruptive in my life to the point that I’m willing to have people thinking I’m crazy for the sake of getting a solution.

Thankfully, the doctor who delivered both of my babies, and is a bit of a super hero in my world, knew immediately what was wrong with me and what was causing my shoulder pain.  He overheard me talking with the nurse at the nurse’s check in (you know, where they check your weight, blood pressure, etc), and popped his head in to say “I know what it is, it’s behind your shoulder right?  You’re bleeding in there.”  My reaction – “Oh, Thank God, you don’t think I’m nuts.”

I went into the actual exam room and had a chance to sit down and discuss everything.  Turns out, in addition to the shoulder pain being indicative of diaphragmatic endometriosis, the spotting I’ve been experiencing a few days before my period is also a symptom of endometriosis.  Our game plan is to start birth control pills and skip the sugar pills in the packs so I never get my period.  The goal being: to shut down the tissue that is in places where it doesn’t belong that is causing the bleeding/scar tissue/pain/whatever the hell it’s doing in there that is so awful. (Side Note – I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but that pain is absolutely awful.  I think I have a fairly high threshold for pain – I think anyone who’s had a UI can claim that – and when it flares up I’m extremely limited in what I’m able to tolerate comfortably).

My doctor suspects that the endometriosis may be from the surgery to put my uterus back in my body after the inversion.  It’s also likely that I inherited it, as I have a cousin who had a hysterectomy at age 30 to combat it.  Could be both.  I’ve been doing a little more searching online and have come to realize the pelvic bone pain after my first born during my periods is also indicative of endometriosis.  I assumed the pain in my pelvic bone was due to the inversion some how… the down side of not having a great idea of what is “normal” when you have a rare complication like an inversion.  I’m sure I’ll discover other things that I didn’t make a connection to as I look into it further.  The hope being, the pills will keep surgery at bay for me for a significant amount of time.

This would be a significantly more difficult diagnosis if we were still hoping to have more children.  I had my tubes tied during the c-section with my second, so we already knew we were done.  At this point, I’m far more relieved with the knowledge that I know the reason why I’ve been combating this chronic pain and I have a solution to the problem to try for now.

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Almost 5 years later

Wow.  Here we are, coming up on my oldest child’s 5th birthday and the 5 year anniversary of my (technically, first) inversion.  As much as I’d like to say that it was a distant memory in the past that I never think about, I think about it often.  We are still dealing with some after-effects, to an extent.  Since I had a scheduled c-section with my second (that my body tried inverting during too), I had another vertical incision (in order to clean up my old scar as well).  I can tell, over 2 years after the c-section that my abdominal muscles still haven’t fully reconnected.  Maybe one day I’ll be able to do a complete sit up! 🙂

A little bit more of a serious concern/after-effect has been my oldest son’s struggle with sensory processing.  They suspect that it may have been precipitated by the very low fluid towards the end of my pregnancy, problems with the placenta not detaching and causing the UI, and the resulting anxiety that I dealt with.  There are other factors too, of course, but unfortunately, everything surrounding his delivery didn’t help matters.  So, we are now in uncharted territory for myself, trying to navigate occupational therapy and school – based assistance and setting him up for success for kindergarten next year.

On a happy note, there have been some great things that have resulted in my experiences.  I have staying in touch with my nurse from both deliveries.  I talk a lot to other women who’ve been through difficult pregnancies and/or deliveries so we’ve been able to swap stories and find common ground with those experiences.  I’m grateful for that ability to relate to other people who may have had more recent experiences that they are recovering from and moving on from.

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Delayed Reactions

It’s been 3 years and 3 months since I had a uterine inversion following the birth of my first baby.  During the actual inversion and the hurried dash to the OR, I had no control over anything and was, oddly, at peace with the chaos.  I tend to be a control freak, but I knew there was nothing I could control about it.  I just breathed as deeply as possible when they told me to (to knock me out) and tried to listen to everything else being said around me.

What I hadn’t fully processed, as I’m realizing, was how my husband and family responded to that day.  I remember my phone call with my best friend that day.  She was in tears and processing that “I almost lost you today.”

My little sister had her first baby last night.  She and baby are healthy and great, however, she did have some PP bleeding.  It’s a common complication, but, as her sister, it’s been hard on me.  It’s a reminder that sometimes, things are complicated when having a baby.  It’s not a minor miracle to see a healthy baby and mommy (not to mention all of the struggles some women have just trying to get pregnant and carry a pregnancy to term).

Mom told me today, “Your birth experience still ranks as the scariest and most dramatic one yet”, when we were talking about postpartum delivery complications.  I’m realizing how hard that day must have been for them.

It’s been a tough day for me.  I’m also remembering that I missed the first couple of hours of my baby’s life due to the emergency surgery.  They thought I was having a hysterectomy.  My husband and I said our “I love you” and I got pulled away, leaving him standing there with our 7 minute old.  He had to then call my parents, who were excitedly waiting for the “He’s here!” call, and instead tell them, “CJ’s OK, but you need to come quick, Katie’s in surgery.”  Mom says it was the best and worst phone call they’ve ever received.

I, honestly, didn’t expect today to hit so hard.  It’s a happy day that brought a new family member.  I’m just remembering how delicate and precious life really is too.

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Lactation Failure after Uterine Inversion

Prior to my first, CJ, being born, I was so desperately hoping that breastfeeding would be successful for us.  I took classes, read books, and was looking forward to that “Golden Hour” of bonding immediately after his birth.

Instead, I spent his first hour of life under general anesthesia in emergency surgery.  As they were frantically wheeling me out, my husband was panicking about whether or not they’d need to give CJ a bottle.  In hindsight, I know he was upset because neither of us had control of anything in the moment and the only thing he could possibly regain control over was caring for our new baby.

Thankfully, one of the BEST lactation consultants in town was my LC.  She knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed and partnered with my OB to make it happen.  Her positivity was a ray of sunshine on a day that is forever clouded by a lot of foggy and jumbled memories.  I asked her if the postpartum uterine contractions caused by nursing were safe for me, she praised me for knowing so much about it.  She even told me I had great nipples!  She had them wait for me to get out of surgery to feed him myself and made sure all of the meds and anesthesia were safe for him.  It was great… everything else had been scary and WAY harder than what most new mothers experience, I felt like breastfeeding was going to be the one easy thing for us.

Fast forward 4 months later.  Suddenly, my baby is starving.  I was recovering from a bad cold that had turned into a sinus infection.  I kept nursing through the illness, per all of the books I’d referred back to from my days of preparing for CJ’s arrival.  Nothing.  I tried pumping.  I barely got an ounce.  My supply was gone.

Here’s what they don’t always tell you about breastfeeding.  Sometimes, your body simply stops producing milk, especially after an illness and even more so if you lost a lot of blood during birth.  I’m sure there is some sort of perfectly good scientific explanation for this, but it didn’t matter.  It didn’t change anything.    In many ways, I was lucky to breastfeed at all.  Sometimes, hemorrhaging severely postpartum means your body doesn’t produce milk at all.

If you are struggling with your supply after a uterine inversion, please know that it is common and please don’t be hard on yourself.  I was so upset when it happened to me and so hard on myself for something that I couldn’t control.  I did my best, but the reality was, it wasn’t in the cards for us long-term… and that is OK.  CJ is a happy and healthy child.  That’s all I need – happy and healthy babies.

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Pregnancy After Inversion: Birth Story for Baby #2

Baby RT is here!  He joined us December 11th via c-section and is perfect – all 9 lbs 2 oz of him (big baby!!!!).  It was very odd going into surgery in a planned fashion but nice being able to stay conscious through the whole thing.  That’s more than I could say for my first birth.

In many ways, this birth experience became the “Part 2” to my first birth experience.  I lucked out and pretty much had everyone (doctors, nurses) that I’d had when I delivered CJ and had surgery immediately following.  Considering CJ was born in Feb 2011 – that is pretty impressive!  It was great to have so many people involved who knew exactly how terrifying things briefly got after I delivered CJ and were very invested in a more pleasant birth experience this time.

Planning a c-section this time was the best decision I could have made.  All along, my OB felt very strongly that something wasn’t right about my uterus.  It was too malleable during the correction surgery, and he’d had other inversion patients to compare me to, so I put a lot of stock in his opinion.  This is a big part of why I wanted him doing my c-section, he knew my uterus and how it was unpredictable.

His instincts proved to be right.  During the c-section, while allowing the placenta to detach after delivering my son, the placenta once again tried to pull my uterus with it.  Thankfully, since we were already in a surgical situation, it was just a matter of manually placing my uterus back and manually separated the placenta.  The implications of this, though, being that had I attempted another vaginal delivery, I likely would have had another inversion (especially with a 9 lbs+ baby).

My recovery this time has been SO MUCH easier as a result of the c-section and, an added bonus, my doctor cleaned up my scar.  My incision from the first surgery was a vertical one, so they used the same incision line in order to prevent extra scarring and make things neater.  After 2 weeks, it already looks significantly better than last time.  I am already off of the pain meds and moving around really well, which was not something I would have even considered at this point after my first birth.

We did opt to have my tubes tied during the c-section (yet another bonus to going the planned c-section route).  I’m very content with our 2 healthy boys and, knowing that my uterus misbehaved during both births, I’m not wanting to have another situation where we play the guessing game off “Will my uterus try to jump ship again?”

I’m hoping to do a post comparing my new scar with my old one.  We are still adjusting to life with 2 kids and just trying to sleep on a regular basis at the moment – but I’ll get back to posting updates when I can!

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Pregnancy After Inversion: Touring the Hospital

We took CJ with us to tour the hospital this weekend in order to help him prepare for becoming a big brother and re-acquaint ourselves with everything again.  I think (well, I know) my husband was nervous about being back there and potentially having some sort of panic attack with remembering everything that happened.  I was more worried about any changes that had been made since I was there last time, mainly because I had a really wonderful experience with the nurses and staff and hoped they hadn’t changed how they handle everything with patients.

What we didn’t expect was the opportunity to offer reassurance to another family on the tour.  Another mom on the tour had Pre-E with her first child and, as a result of how things went the first time, she’d switched her practice and hospital.  We actually pulled them aside after the tour and said: Hey, not to be too personal, but here is what happened to me when I delivered and here is how well everything was handled.  I’m glad we met this family, it gave my husband and I a chance to remind ourselves of what a great experience with had with the hospital itself, knowing that they had made the best of a really scary situation was great peace of mind.

The tour, overall, was identical to the tour that I’d had when I was expecting CJ.  CJ did seem to get a little overwhelmed when seeing the baby nursery, which is completely understandable.  He will be 3 in February, so he is still trying to make sense of everything.

We also ran into one of my original nurses – it was actually the “old school” nurse who started my induction with CJ and then hugged me after originally hearing that I’d had a uterine inversion.  It was nice getting to see her again and she was telling our tour about how they are trying some of the “new” techniques with babies during c-sections, including skin to skin time with mom ASAP, which I’d been really hoping would happen.  My main reservation about having a c-section all along had been missing early bonding time with my baby again, since I’d missed that when CJ was born due to the inversion and surgery.

The tour was one of the last “to do’s” on our list, so now we are just tying up loose ends in preparation of Baby RT’s arrival!  I’m definitely ready to meet this little guy :).

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Pregnancy After Inversion: 35 Week Update

35 Weeks!  The end is so close and, yet, feels so far away.  I’m large, uncomfortable, and questioning the physical capacity of my belly vs. baby.  My 32 week ultrasound looked great.  Baby is growing about 10 days ahead of schedule and fluid levels are good.

I’m pretty certain I will wind up in labor before my scheduled c-section date.  Apparently, all pregnant chicks in their 3rd trimesters say that, so I guess we will have to wait and see.  Baby has already dropped though, which is earlier than CJ did.  The OBs don’t seem too worried about me going into labor earlier as far as potential risks from the inversion last time.  It will just be a matter of me getting to the hospital and them deciding when to go ahead and complete the c-section.

I’m definitely feeling “ready” to not be pregnant anymore.  I know the craziness that will come with having a newborn is exhausting, but I forgot how tiring the last month of pregnancy is too!  Oh, the things we forget :).

35 Week Belly Pic (plus a really cute photo-bomber):

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Pregnancy After Inversion: 30 Week Update

Wow, I managed to get a little sidelined with posting pregnancy updates!  Before I get rolling into what’s going on at 30 weeks, I want to hit on a few “milestones” that I’ve missed updating on.

20 Weeks: We had our anatomy scan and everything looked great!  So happy to see healthy lungs, belly, brain, bones, and all of that stuff they check (most of which I don’t know what we are looking at).  My fluid levels and cervix looked great too.  We are excited that we are having another boy – definitely makes prepping for baby much easier since we already have everything we need.

28 Weeks: Since my fluid levels dropped dangerously low with Little CJ, we are going to play it safe with Baby #2 and do ultrasounds every 4 weeks from 28 weeks to 36 weeks.  At 36 weeks, we are going to see if that needs to be upped to a weekly ultrasound or not.  The 28 week ultrasound went perfectly!  Plenty of fluid, healthy looking little guy, and enjoying a “normal” pregnancy so far.  Baby is already over 3 lbs so far (eek!).  It’s good to hear that everything is looking normal, though it still gives me pause since everything with CJ was normal up until this point as well too.

28 Week Ultrasound Pic:

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30 Weeks:  Now we are caught up!  I’m really happy to be in the “30s” for weeks, because I know every day just adds on to the chances that our little guy, whose name initials will be “RT”, will be healthy.  I’ve really been feeling the aches and pains of the third trimester though.  I know I look a lot bigger this time too.  I’m getting a lot of “Wow, you must be due SOON!” comments and I can tell that my belly is sticking out a lot more than it did with CJ.  I know that it is from my ligaments being stretched to the max with the inversion and just general “it’s a second pregnancy and everything is looser” things.  I’ve had to be careful with my tailbone too, which I know is a common third trimester complaint for all women.

I am starting to wonder if scheduling a c-section at 39 weeks is futile, because I really wonder if RT will try to come earlier.  Of course, I’m wondering this as 2 of my friends just delivered their little boys 2-3 weeks early.  This is the hardest part with the unpredictability of child-birth for me.  I like having everything “planned” as best I can and, especially since we are working against complications from the last pregnancy, I really want to mitigate against any risks.

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Let’s go ahead and talk about it – PPD/PPA

I may have touched on this in earlier posts but I wanted to dedicate a full post to Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Anxiety.  Baby CJ’s delivery rocked my world – in wonderful ways, and in some ways that sent me feeling out of control.

Having survived a life threatening complication made me feel like I should be only feeling grateful for each and every day with my son.  And, honestly, I do genuinely feel grateful for each moment that I get with him (and I think most parents share that gratitude for their kids, regardless of any sort of complications).  However, in the midst of my new life as a mom, something was wrong.  Outings regularly sent me into a tailspin that only my poor husband got to witness.

This was the nagging stream of consciousness going through my head:  Is this from the lack of sleep?  He is sleeping through the night now… Was it breast-feeding wearing on me?  Maybe… let’s see if I start to feel normal after weaning (which, unfortunately, was something that happened way earlier than I’d planned on).  OK, still feeling weird after weaning… Maybe it is because I’m still vitamin deficient, let’s make sure I’m taking a vitamin and eating well…  OK, maybe it’s because I’m still out of shape… Let’s join the Y and see if that helps…

Finally, the chat with my OB the first week after I had CJ, when he was removing my staples, kept sneaking in, specifically, after a particularly bad episode of my son crying in the car while I flipped out because formula powder spilled everywhere.  The OB’s words, which were actually more directed at my husband, telling us that he would more likely notice changes in my before I even noticed.  Those comments, along with my husband’s comments about how freaked out things were making me for no reason, made me think, “Something is actually wrong with me.”

My life is great – I have a great husband, a healthy son, I was healthy, we are financially stable, I am enjoying our set up with being able to stay home… Why the heck do I feel so different?  And, it wasn’t a “good” different either.  I also had remembered my mom telling me about family members who’d suffered chemical imbalances after bad hemorrhages, that triggered mental illness.  Before telling my husband that I wanted to talk with the doctor, I reached out to a friend who has always been very open with me about her own struggles with PPD/PPA after having her daughter (and having a bad hemorrhage).  Her words to me were, “Girl, you are textbook – go see your doc now.”  I was also given this link: http://www.postpartumprogress.com/the-symptoms-of-postpartum-depression-anxiety-in-plain-mama-english

I’d always envisioned PPD or PPA looking like it does in those commercials for antidepressants.  The ones where the mom can’t get out of bed, she cries all the time, doesn’t eat or can’t stop eating, ignores her baby, etc.  And, maybe those are true symptoms for other people – but I was none of those things.  Also, my son was 9 months old before I went to see the doctor (finally!) about what was going on.  The link above made everything click when I read this:

  • “Maybe you’re doing everything right. You are exercising. You are taking your vitamins. You have a healthy spirituality.  You do yoga. You’re thinking “Why can’t I just get over this?”  You feel like you should be able to snap out of it, but you can’t.”

Most of the other things she detailed were starting to hit home as well, but that bullet point nailed it for me.  And, it gave me a way to articulate to my doctor how I was feeling.  It turns out, my OB’s wife suffered from an almost identical case of PPD/PPA for months as well after their child was born.  She, like myself, managed to hide it from all of her close friends and family too, but just felt so angry and frustrated with everything all of the time.

I went on a low dose antidepressant for about 6 months, had a lot more open conversations with my husband, and finally started to catch a break from whatever that was lurking around in my head.  The meds can have their own drawbacks, but I was very grateful that I was able to regain a bit of balance back.

I do worry about having a repeat performance of this after I have Baby #2, though I feel better knowing that I know what to look for ahead of time.  I refer back to the page I linked here often as a bit of a reminder (and resource to share with other friends) of what to look for.  I also owe a huge thanks to a few of my closer “mommy-friends” who opened up with me enough about their own experiences and made it OK for me to talk with them about how I was feeling as well.  PPD/PPA are so common, but are still considered somewhat taboo – hence my motivation to post about it here.

Resources:
http://www.postpartumprogress.com/

http://www.babycenter.com/0_postpartum-depression-and-anxiety_227.bc

http://www.postpartum.net/

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