Friday, April 27, 2018

Far-from-home Mom

7am Wuksachi Lodge sequoia National Park

The baby is nestled in beside me, thumb in her mouth, humming and sleeping. Her and I had been up for an out and a half in the dim of our hotel room, trying to spare echo and Jared and give them a few more hours of sleep. She gave up but of course I’m wide awake. So a blog post written in notes app sounds about right. 

I was wary of this vacation. We wanted to get away before Jared was thrown into PA school and the key was tossed aside. However, traveling 2000 miles and enduring a 3 hour time change with 2 very young children seemed a bit ambitious. 

I also spent the last few months dithering back and forth over resigning from my job; heretofore known as The Decision. 

Going back to work, moving, trying to find our place in our new home, keeping clean underwear on everyone and The Decision had my stress level at Mach 10. Every time I’d open a tab to start planning the trip, I was overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. So I just didn’t. Jared and I did the bare minimum of booking flights, hotels, and car, and I made sure there weren’t any free gems we were missing out on and then I just put it on a shelf. Btw RIP the days of an air bnb being a steal. The golden age of super cheap 2 bedroom apartments is gone I’m afraid. 

After I made The Decision, the cliched weight from my shoulders melted away. Literally the burden and guilt and stress and self doubt that has plagued me for months was just GONE. It’s nice to know, definitively, that you’ve made the right decision. So here I am, a stay at home mom very far away from her home. 

The flights weren’t all that bad. Remind me to write a post on the pitfalls of having huge breasts and trying to feed modestly in public. I really don’t care what you do with your own nipples, but generally speaking I like to keep mine on the low down. But at some point I made the decision that is totally fine and completely ok to just feed her. And not have to wrestle her adorable but determined little self under a cover. Seriously would you rather hear wild ravenous screeching cries in an airplane or see 1 inch of side boob? Moving along! 

The first night in Fresno was ROTTEN. Echo had been so great all day but cooped up in a little room and unable to have her own space to wind down and sleep she was over it. We battled, took an ice cream run at the local Freezy Queen, and finally everyone slept a few hours. The next morning we headed out to Sequoia. 

It’s drop dead gorgeous. Everyone should come here. At some point Jared pulled off to potty and when he came back he told me to just go walk a little ways in to the forest. It was perfectly cool, pine scented bliss. So peaceful and soothing. 

The last few days have been so fun and so nuts. Echo is still a 3year old even in the midst of an ancient giant forest, who knew?! It really is so enchanting to see her stride off, climb a big giant rock or log,sometimes a little too confidently for my liking. She jumps and runs and talks to strangers, and is all in a joy. She also cries and whines, refuses to pose for 80% of our photos, and at one point unlocked the stroller climbed inside and started rolling down a hill towards a small creek until a nice man stopped her. Happened in about 2 seconds while I was taking a photo of Jared. Lorelai, as usual, is just a ball of sunshine along for the ride. That is until we get in the car to make the long drive across the park and she cries for 20-30 minutes at a time. But all in total trooper.

 Today we leave for the coast, and while I’m literally salivating at 7:30 at the thought of the cafe rio I’m going to eat later, and the dim sum waiting for me in San Francisco, it does leave a pit in my stomach knowing we can’t be surrounded by these amazing giant redwoods forever. We’ll be back. We’ve got to! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

What to do if your uterus feels like it's going to fall out of your body. Or: Pelvic Prolapse

Disclaimer: I'm turning 29 in a few weeks and have had many experiances in my life, none so crazy and wonderful and terrible as natural childbirth (twice) (humblebrag). It's pretty much stripped me of any embarrassment around my body, and also helped me become a better and more true version of myself. That said, if you are my Dad or my 3rd cousin or my elementary school teacher and can't handle me talking about female anatomy, kindly click away from here.


So cue to about 3 months ago. I was roughly 2 weeks postpartum and I was feeling GOOD y'all. My recovery from Lorelai's birth was incredibly easy, my angel newborn was sleeping 5-6 hours at night, I was feeling #blessed. I didn't tear at all with Cub, but there's always a certain amount of swelling and general weirdness that goes down afterwards. But then another few weeks went by, and that swollen heavy feeling was not going away. I was chatting with a friend who had her baby just a couple weeks after I did, and described the feeling. She'd had 3 babies and had no clue what I was talking about.

The feeling was a nagging. A heaviness in my vagina, like a menstrual cup or tampon thats edging out and irritating you in a way you just can't quite describe. When I'd wipe or sit on the toilet, the feeling was stronger, and to be honest with you I was terrified to look and see if what I thought had happened had really and truly happened. I was also plagued with feelings of self doubt. I do not tend towards hypochondria, but I didn't want to drag myself and my new baby and perhaps my toddler in to a doctors office only to be told that this was all part of the normal postpartum healing process. One night I'd had enough and I explained to Jared what I thought it was and forced him to check it out. All he said was "It definitely looks like something is there."

Reader: It was my uterus.
A girl with a slipping uterus

Spoiler alert: my uterus did not ever leave my body. But it was NOT where Mother Nature had originally placed it. And Google will tell you some very unclear and scary stuff about all of this. Once I went in to the midwives, they confirmed a stage 2 prolapse. Stage 3 would have been completely out, this was just very low. Basically, Cubby came out so fast and furious (some would say 2 Fast 2 Furious)  that my muscles had just given up. They could no longer adequately hold up my internal organs. My uterus had slipped down in to my vagina.
Image result for womens pelvic floor
It's important to note here that nothing is fastening your reproductive organs in place. Your pelvic floor in basically a hammock of muscles, and if they are weakened enough it causes massive problems. Most women have urine leakage problems after having a baby, and slight prolapse is why. Other women's prolapse is so bad they have to wear special devices called pessaries to hold everything up and in. Basically a vagina cork. My midwives set me up with a pelvic floor therapist and sent me on my merry way.

When I got in the car after my appointment, I was feeling pretty darn bad for myself. I wanted to shuffle off this mortal coil, and had a good cry and a milkshake. In truth I was incredibly lucky to have 0 symptoms besides the nagging feeling in my nethers. Some women experience constant poo and pee leakage after prolapse. While I was convinced in the moment I would never be able to sex, carry a baby, or live a happy life ever ever again, that certainly was not true.


Shortly after this pity fest, I met with Eliza, my pelvic floor therapist. She is a doctor of physical therapy and specializes in women's health. She is very charming, disarming, hilarious, and the person I really needed at the moment. When I walked in to her office she first told me that I was VERY freshly post-partum (6 weeks) and that I truly was still healing. People are often telling me to give myself a little grace, and I am often being an A Type freak who needs TO FIX THINGS RIGHT NOW. ahem. Anyway, she did an assessment that was quite literally her sticking a few fingers in my vagina, feeling around and having me kegel. For many people this would be mortifying, but I was so scared of  my organs falling out I felt only mild chagrin.

At this point she confirmed the stage 2 prolapse, and told me my uterus was hanging out maybe 1/2 to 1 inch inside my vagina. I could only hold a kegel for about 2-3 seconds before giving out. She asked me to work on 5 second holds, and we started meeting regularly.

The next few appointments involved sensors placed on either side of my ahem rectum, so that a computer could chart the strength of my kegels. It was all very scientific. She'd coach me through kegel exercises and taught me how to activate them when carrying things or walking. I worked with Eliza for about 7 weeks and here I am: a graduate of therapy! Who can now hold a set of kegels, standing, for 10-15 seconds at a time! I no longer feel that heavy nagging feeling.
Image result for womens pelvic floor
I am not a doctor, and I won't go in depth to much about what I actually did at my appointments because I am sure everyone is different. I wanted to write this post because when I was searching for information about this there just wasn't a lot out there. I posted on 2 separate Facebook groups for women and didn't receive even one response. Not a word of encouragement or an acknowledgment that this happens to others. Well, guess what it happens to LOTs of people. This is why lots of ladies end up regularly peeing themselves when they sneeze! That joke is part of the zeitgeist, and we just accept it and move on. Doesn't have to be that way

Here are 4 things I learned in PT that will hopefully help you:
  1. Kegels. You are probably doing one now if you are a vagina-owner and thinking "Please 10 seconds? I got this." But it's not about the length of time, it's about endurance. To strengthen your pelvic floor you need to be able to squeeze those muscles, release fully, tighten again and release fully in sets of 10. And to keep doing that multiple times a day. Try it and I am sure you'll feel yourself tire. 
  2. If you have health insurance, chances are PT is covered. I barely had to pay anything for my treatment, and I have a high deductible plan. It's really hard to learn how to do these exercises on your own. The coaching and monitoring helps so much. 
  3. You can see results quickly in your symptoms! I felt some relief just a few weeks after starting PT.
  4. Your health and comfort are worth WAY more then embarrassment over having a doctor look at, touch or talk about your vagina, anus, uterus or any other part down there that may cause you to blush. 

^^ myself and Lorelai, the pelvic floor destroyer.

If you have any questions or you'd like Eliza's info, let me know!