I’ve been trying to write this for months now, each time roadblocked. I wish there was a way to express how deeply damaged I am by what’s happened to me. I wish I had the words. I wish I had the ability to turn back time. I wish there was no such thing as prolapse and I wish there was something more I could do to make this less painful.
The birth of my son should have been joyous. I imagined my husband and I enthralled, clutching to our precious newborn. Instead, I sobbed. My body broken and my mind utterly traumatised by the entire experience.
It started with chicken pox at 6 weeks pregnant. Nobody could predict this, nor could they give me any definitive answers about the impact it might have on my growing baby. We continued blindly with the pregnancy.
My due date came and past. Desperately overdue, tired and emotional we agreed to be induced. Unfortunately for me and my family, my due date was the 13th December 2015 which meant they wouldn’t start my induction until Christmas Eve. So on Christmas Eve they first used tape to try to ripen my cervix, which failed. On Christmas day they then moved onto a balloon catheter to manually open my cervix. This procedure was almost as painful as my labour and I am horrified that they do this to women in Australia. It was brutal and bloody and I was sent home on Christmas Day afternoon with a tube hanging out of my vagina, balloons half inside my uterus and half inside my vagina. I was miserable and in pain all night.
Early Boxing Day morning we returned to the hospital where they removed the balloon and started me on the drip. The drip worked instantly and I was vomiting and wailing in agony within 30 minutes. My baby was posterior so an epidural was administered without incident. Thankfully, I dilated with no problems after that.
During the second stage, they allowed me to push for over 2 hours before the room filled with various other nurses and doctors who each took their turn to look at my vagina and assess whether I was making enough progress. I am haunted by the memory of the doctor looking up at me from between my legs and stating that she would use forceps to deliver my baby. Why did I let her do that? Why was I not offered any alternatives? Why did she not explain to me the link between forceps and prolapse?
My baby was delivered and placed on my chest. My vagina had been ripped to a third-degree and I began to haemorrhage. My husband has vivid memories of there being an unfathomable amount of blood on the floor, mopped up by numerous towels and I began to sob as they advised I was being prepped for surgery. I’d never had a surgery before and I hadn’t prepared myself for this kind of complication.
After the surgery, they sent my husband home as it was early in the morning and they allowed my epidural to wear off without any more pain relief. Being Boxing Day, it was many hours before a doctor was able to sign off on some morphine for me. This part of my story makes me cry every time. I felt abandoned, lonely and frightened and I still harbour anger towards my husband for leaving me there that night.
In a way, I’m grateful to the hospital for saving my life. I easily could have bled out on that bed and 50 years ago I would have. But nobody could prepare me for the nightmare that I’d live in the months following this day.
I knew from very early on that I had a prolapse. I’d come across the word on the internet one night and my heart sank as I realised that it was an explanation for the bulge I was feeling between my legs. The hospital was adamant that everything was ‘normal’ even after the third check-up with them some 6 months after the birth.
My instincts compelled me to seek a second opinion and I ended up at a physiotherapist who diagnosed me with a three-compartment prolapse. My bladder, uterus and bowels each were protruding into my vagina. My world collapsed as she explained I would no longer be able to lift my son. Shortly after this, I was admitted to St John of God Psychiatric Hospital in Burwood, Sydney where I stayed for a month.
Today, my life is vastly different from the life I had wanted to have. I watch the ‘yummy mummies’ who jog with their prams and I feel utter devastation. I watch the mums in the park who scoop their children up when their injured and I feel utter devastation. That was supposed to be my life! Instead, my days are filled with constant worry about my prolapse. It is worse? Should I lift my son up when he cries? Is my pessary in its place? Will there be a toilet nearby in case I urgently need one?
Each time I have sex with my husband, I am reminded of the trauma. But the universe was good to me when it matched me with him, as he’s been incredibly supportive and patient with me as I navigate this new body of mine. Together, we have made it this far and I’ll be forever grateful for him, my family and the various health professionals who have helped me along thus far.