It's now been a few months since I began my Physical Therapy for post-partum recovery, so I figured it was high-time I did an update post. Since my previous info on this topic was via an Instagram story, I'll give a quick summary here as well just for background, then share where we're at, and chat a bit about where we've still got to go!
The background: Pregnancy didn't agree with me. In a nutshell, First Trimester involved bed rest, a placenta that had trouble attaching correctly, a mini stroke-like episode, time in the hospital, and so much nausea I lost 7lbs. Second Trimester involved a dislocated rib, hair loss, loss of skin pigmentation, more bed rest, and continued nausea, though I did finally start to gain weight (yay!). Third Trimester involved early labor (31 weeks), a medication my body didn't handle well to attempt to stop the labor, a few days in the hospital on magnesium sulfate which finally did stop the labor, and (you guessed it!) more bed rest.
Labor began on day one of week 37. Well, "began". My water broke. But I never had any contractions until we started the Pitocin. Nevertheless, Evie came quickly, after just 10 hours total, and only 45 minutes of pushing. Unfortunately, it left me with several third-degree tears, making my first 6 weeks after birth really painful (you mamas know). Then, after 6 weeks, I was cleared for "normal" activity and that, supposedly, was that. I was recovered.
Except that nothing felt okay - I hurt like crazy, my emotions were all over the place, and a few weeks later the depression got so bad I decided it would be best to end things - Evie and G would be better off without me. Fortunately, I had enough fight left in me to go to G and ask for help. He took some time off work, and we went to my OB-GYN, who counseled me to wait at least a year after I had finished breastfeeding Evie to worry about hormones, emotions, and physical healing, because we wouldn't know what my new "normal" would be until then. It was August 2017.
I didn't seek professional help again until June 2018. Emotionally, I had learned to cope with the PPD, though I hadn't actually healed, but physically things had gone from bad to worse. Without being indelicate, I could feel next to nothing "downtown", and it was frustrating and depressing, to say the least. Since we had relocated back to So Cal in May, I also had to find a new OB-GYN. Thank goodness I did. She listened, expressed frustration that my previous doctor hadn't sent me to a Pelvic Therapist immediately once I was cleared for "normal activities" (spoiler alert: the newly emerging standard is that any woman who has a 3rd or 4th degree tear should receive PT starting at week 6), and immediately referred me to a PT, along with strongly encouraging me to begin seeing a counselor, since up to this point my PPD hadn't been dealt with.
Still with me? Good. I know it's a long one :) Here's another pic of Evie to keep you going:
Now it's almost December 2018, and I've been seeing my PT for four months. I can't tell you how glad I am that we found someone who knew to refer me to a pelvic physical therapist. I'm not healed - in fact, we just finally found a section of impinged nerves that seem to be the culprits - but I can feel a difference, and I am healing. When I first saw my PT, I had lost all sensation externally and had no interior sensation in three of the four quadrants. Now, I have much better internal tone, have regained some external sensation, and we're finally seeing some improvement in the internal sensation too, though nothing near what we need/hope for yet.
As to the counselor, G and I decided to wait until our move to Pasadena in December for a few reasons. First, I want to plug in and work through things with someone I can continue to see for years, and second, it made sense to start addressing one of the problems first, make some headway, then move on to the other. Since we had a readily available PT and the timeline for counseling made since pushed back later, we waited. Now that we plan to be in Pasadena in time for Christmas, I'm looking forward to finding the right counselor for me in 2019.
So why do I share all this? - Because, to be honest Reader, it's a little more personal than I like to get. This isn't the "how to tame your mane" type of post that is personalized - this is personal - like the nitty gritty stuff that tears at my heart and disrupts the fabric of my life, and that's hard to put out there. - I share because I felt so alone. I felt like there was something wrong with me because it wasn't easy. Because I didn't just heal. Because I couldn't simply "handle it".
Guess what? From what I hear, that is the norm. We all struggle - we've just undergone a huge life changing event! Your body changes more during pregnancy & post-partum than any other time besides puberty (scientific fact!) and you have a little person looking to you for EVERYTHING while you try to adjust to your new "normal". It's not just hard. It feels almost insurmountable at times. But you're not alone. I'm not alone. We're not alone. The struggle is what's normal - not the effortless transition.
I also want to encourage you to struggle. Keep asking for help. Seek second and third and fourth opinions if you need to. Find someone who will listen and at least give you options to try and improve. You're worth it, and needing help isn't weakness. In fact, admitting you need help takes a strange kind of courage.
I'll update you all again in a few months once the move has settled and I've starting seeing someone to work through the PPD. Until then, know that I pray for all of you, and I'm here if you ever want to chat.