I was fit and healthy prior and continued that lifestyle into my pregnancy.
I ate healthy, worked out 4-5 days a week, listened to my body, gained 35 pounds. I slept well, had very little, if any, stress. I had a great support system, a loving husband and two great step kids who were all excited for the birth of this baby.
My pregnancy was a dream. Everything went smoothly. I had very little aches and pains, some swelling in the later months, but nothing really to complain about.
I read book after book to prepare myself. I had a great Midwife. My husband and I attended pre natal classes. I felt empowered. I felt strong. I truly felt that I was doing everything right and was so ready to meet this baby.
Then it was time to deliver….
I had no idea what to expect, like most first time moms. I knew it would hurt, but I was also told the really tough part should only last about 25-30 minutes.
Okay. I can do this. I mean, I was created to do this. I am a woman, it’s what we do.
My labour pains started on a Monday night….nothing too crazy, just the standard ‘period like cramps’. By 8pm that night pain was resonating down my back and I had the urge to push so my husband and I went to the hospital. I was seen by my midwife who told me I was only 3 cm dilated and this may continue for a couple of days. She did a final stretch and sweep and sent me on my way. I got home and decided a bath would be my best distraction. The pain would increasingly get worse and worse, but my contractions were still inconsistent. I would have one that lasted a minute and then another one 16 minutes later that lasted 30 seconds. They were never consistent and they were never the standard. I had a really bad case of back labour as well, I never felt anything in my uterus, it was all down my back and legs. I felt the urge to push, but it was the same as earlier in the evening so I just continued to labour in the tub. I called my midwife in the morning around 9am, she spoke with me through a couple contractions and still told me I didn’t seem to be ready. I asked her to come assess me anyway because this pain was intense. She checked my vitals, did my blood pressure and wasn’t even going to do an internal check because she was fairly certain that I wouldn’t have progressed much from the night before.
I remember lying on the couch, her checking me and immediately turning to my husband and yelling “call an ambulance right now, she is fully dilated. We need to get her to a hospital right away. Whatever you do Lindsay, don’t push!”
They wheel me into the birthing room at 11am fully dilated ready to go and Zoey wasn’t born until 2:18pm. THREE HOURS of pushing. No pain meds. No nothing. Again my contractions were not consistent, there was one point where Zoey’s head was crowning and I had to wait 20 minutes for my next contraction to push. Her head was also turned sideways so when I would push, she would go no where. I was eventually given an episiotomy and out she came. All that pain forgotten.
I tell you my birth story because I’m trying to prove a point. Labour and delivery don’t always go as planned. Mine was not typical. It’s not normal for contractions to be like that or for your labour to progress that quickly. The bottom line is we have no control over it. It is completely unexpected. Anything can happen. All we can do is prepare our bodies in the best way possible to put up with the process. Something I thought I had done, but from what I know now….I wasn’t even close.
Fast forward 6 weeks after her birth. I had my final appointment with my midwife. She gave me a clean bill of health. Went over baby stuff and mentioned that if I had pain during sex, I could do some exercises to help. I asked about returning to my workouts. She told me just to avoid any core stuff for a while.
Okay. Got it. Great.
The next day, I head to the gym. I’m so determined to get my pre baby body back. I do a full body workout, but nothing too crazy because you know, I just had a baby. I was being so careful, but I was going to be a great example for moms everywhere. People would look at me and think “wow, look at her…she’s amazing. She just had a baby and she’s already back in the gym killing it. So inspiring.” I had a goal of doing a fitness competition post baby so it was time to start training. I trudged on with step ups, mountain climbers, lunges with shoulder press etc…I felt SO good!!
Later that night I was in the shower and I felt a lump. Immediately I thought my episiotomy scar was infected, I panicked a little bit…then I turned to google. I found out a condition that would change my life forever. Something I had never heard of before, I had no clue existed. I was up the whole night researching because I was certain it was what I had. I made a drs appointment the next day and she confirmed what I had feared. A prolpase. My pelvic floor suffered incredible damage during delivery so my organs have shifted out of place.
Huh. Ok. Wait. What? That’s a thing? Why have I never heard of it before? What the hell is a pelvic floor anyway?? Why did no one mention that it was important to strengthen? How does this happen, but more importantly how do I fix it?
My doctor asked me if I did kegels during my pregnancy. I said, “barely….I thought they were just to prevent me from peeing my pants when I was 70”. No one told me this could happen. Not my midwife, not my doctor, not any of the books I read. NO ONE. The word wasn’t even mentioned to me, not once. My doctor told me to do kegels, not to walk any stairs and not carry Zoey around. I could pick her up and hold her, but I couldn’t walk around with her or stand with her for prolonged periods of time. I was instructed to stop all physical exercise immediately.
Complete and utter devastation took over. I cried endlessly. The life that I once knew, full of endorphins, muscle soreness, power and strength was over. I lay in bed with Zoey for days because I actually felt normal when I didn’t walk. I didn’t feel pain or discomfort, there was no reminder that my body had failed me. Mom guilt set in big time because I longed for the life I had before Zoey, I wanted my old body back, the one that was not scarred and broken. I went from working out 5-6 days a week to being uncomfortable going for a 10 minute walk. This couldn’t be happening to me. Why had no one told me this existed? Could I have prevented it?
I researched endlessly for a cure, thinking there has got to be a way to fix this. It can’t be permanent. I have to be able to get my life back. But…nothing I found offered me hope. Everything I read depressed me further and further. No weight lifting, no heavy lifting, no high impact activity, no ’nothing I loved to do before’. I could walk, swim, bike, but I couldn’t lift anything heavier than 25 pounds. So basically, I’m a senior. I’m 34 years old and now I have to adopt a low impact lifestyle that doesn’t involve weight training? But that was my life!?! That was what made me feel powerful, empowered, alive!! What am I supposed to do without it? I felt so alone, confused, annoyed, angry, sad, but mostly broken.
I was at my hairdressers one day reading an edition of GORGO magazine. There was an article in it that really resonated with me. It was about an amazing woman named Krystal Cantu. She lost her arm in a car accident when she was 22, but didn’t let that stop her from living her life to the fullest, but more importantly for me, fulfilling her fitness goals. This really helped shift my mindset. What I had was not life threatening, it for sure changed the quality of my life at times, but it did not threaten my life. I was healthy and my body was capable, I just needed to learn HOW to work with it, not against it. I needed to respect my new body and thank it for creating a miracle and providing me with the life I have and that of my sweet daughter.
Acceptance was EVERYTHING for me. Once I could accept this happened, I could move on. There was nothing I could do about it. Nothing I could do to change it. It was with me for life so if I wanted to live the life I dreamed of, it was time to suck it up and love me for who I am and what I have.
It was from that moment that I decided I was not going to be a victim of this, I was going to be a hero. My OWN hero. I couldn’t find hope anywhere else, so I would provide that hope. I could do this. I would do this. I will be the beacon of change for women like myself and provide a light for those who feel like their lives have been completely flipped upside down.
And so I did.
I started my journey of hope off by attending the same Bellies Inc course that Anna spoke of in her earlier blog. I went to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. I completed the Bellies Inc exercises and in 3 months my prolapse went from a grade 2-3 (4 being the worst) to a 0.5….0.5!!!!!! It was deemed no longer a problem. I remember calling my husband and breaking down into tears. He said he thought this was a good thing? I said IT IS!!!! These are happy tears J.
You have to understand that I tried everything to heal this. Before I knew physio existed for this condition, I went to one doctor and two OBGYNs all who told me, this happens with pregnancy and my only hope was surgery.
To help you understand the power of physio….the pelvic floor is full of ligaments and muscles so when a woman delivers a baby the trauma on the body is equated to that of a soft tissue injury. Like an ankle or a knee. So, it CAN be rehabbed.
I rehabbed the crap out of my pelvic floor because I was SO determined to prove to myself, but also all the doctors that told me I would have to change my lifestyle, give up lifting, take on more low impact exercise routine, and eventually have surgery, that I could do it. I had a goal before I had Zoey to compete in a fitness competition. I thought that dream was dead the moment I was diagnosed. But I ignited it again once I was cleared by my pelvic floor physiotherapist. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve definitely had to adjust my life and the exercises that I do. There are certain things I will never be able to do again (run, burpees, dead lifts, crunches etc. etc.) and I’m ok with that because these days I prefer to focus on what I CAN do instead of dwelling on what I cannot.
Four months out from my first competition, I got the baby itch…bad!! We got pregnant with baby #2 in November-something I once swore would NEVER happen. I’m expecting in August. My body has held up nicely this time around and I haven’t experienced any symptoms, my pelvic floor is as strong as it can be for pregnancy. I’m still going to see my physiotherapist regularly and am incorporating all the information and exercises I learned to take care of my pelvic floor this time around, something I failed to do the first time. The pelvic floor is THE most important part (in my opinion) of a woman’s body during pregnancy. I truly believe that your doctor, midwives, OBGYN should discuss it with you and the impact it faces during pregnancy and upon delivery.
You see pelvic floor dysfunction does not discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are 25, 40, or 60 and it certainly doesn’t care if you are an athlete. A weak pelvic floor is a weak pelvic floor. I also think it’s important to note that while a prolapse is considered the ‘mother of all pelvic floor conditions’ it isn’t the only indication that something is wrong. Leaking when you run or jump, incontinence, abs that are still separated post baby, pelvic pain, pain during sex etc. are all symptoms of a compromised pelvic floor….and it CAN be fixed.
It is SO important to take care of ourselves during pregnancy and beyond. Do not rush back into activity like I did. The core and pelvic floor need to rehabilitated. Even if no one tells you during your pregnancy about the importance of your pelvic floor…I JUST DID! It is as important as those prenatal vitamins that you take for the health of your baby. Is it about YOUR health too.
I don’t know why I was lucky enough to get a prolapse. My delivery likely had a lot to do with it, but some women experience deliveries like that and escape prolapse free. I do, however, believe everything happens for a reason and this happened to me so I can help others. It’s not cool to have a prolapse. Definitely not sexy. Nobody wants to talk about it, but WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT IT. I came forward with my story so I could save other women. I want to provide that hope that I searched endlessly for. I want to help.
It wasn’t always easy for me to talk about. I went months with telling no one, but my mom, husband and two close friends. I still tear up when I share my experience in front of large groups because it takes me right back to that dark place where I felt so alone and trapped in a body that I didn’t want. But, eventually I DID talk about it…I talked about it because no one talked to me about it. I talked about it because as women we deserve to know what can potentially happen to our bodies during pregnancy and child birth. Most importantly, I talked about it so I could create some much needed change and hopefully save others from experiencing what I did.
I’m not going to STOP talking about it.
I am a Bellies Inc Certified Core Specialist and am currently in the process of obtaining my pre and post natal fitness certification. Just because I didn’t know, doesn’t mean you don’t have to so please learn from me.
Do I wish I had my old body back now? Hell no. I’m in love with who I am and what I was given. It’s made me stronger. It’s forced me to dig deep to love myself and to be thankful and grateful for what I do have.
My scars from childbirth are not external, I don’t have stretch marks or a c section scar. The scars I have are internal. Unseen by the human eye, but they are just as powerful. They taught me about self love and what it really means. They continue to give me strength and they have empowered me to help others. They are a reminder that I created a beautiful life and despite what I may have suffered, I came out on top.
So while I thought I did everything right during my first pregnancy. I forgot one thing. One very important thing. I forgot about my pelvic floor. Learn from my mistakes and don’t forget about yours.