Original entry here.
Pregnancy and births: 1
Age of children: 3 years
I’ve been avoiding writing this letter. I think it’s because writing it means I will have to face a reality I don’t want. For almost three years I have been telling myself “it’s got to get better – maybe just another year and it will be back to normal”, but I don’t know if I can believe that anymore. And to compound the problem, it’s one of those “off-limits” topics that women (and I now realize doctors, nurses, and prenatal educators) don’t really talk about which has left me rather isolated. I have turned to you wonderful women at SOAM in hopes that I can connect with someone who has had a similar experience. I last posted in 2007 and have also provided some updated pictures. It has now been almost three years since the birth of my wonderful daughter.
When I first posted on this site, I only addressed things that most women do: breasts, bum, thighs, stomach, stretch marks, etc. But as I have learned, there are many more parts of a woman’s body that pregnancy and childbirth can affect – one’s that aren’t so easily seen or covered with clothes, but that still affect our self image.
I had a fairly difficult birthing experience – my daughter was occiput posterior and it took 2+ hours of pushing until she finally made her entrance into the world. My birthing nurse was not very engaged or helpful and let me push and figure it all out of my own while she chatted with her colleagues. Not one helpful tip about pushing, no perineal massage, nothing, until I tore so badly that she had to run and get the doctor because there was so much blood. Thankfully, after about 1 year, these tears (one internally on the vaginal wall, and one perineal tear) healed up nicely and I have no recurring issues in this department. However, there was so much pressure from my daughter being OP and also not pushing efficiently that I suffered from hemorrhoids, a peri-anal hematoma, and anal fissures after her birth. In the maternity ward, not one nurse mentioned to me that I had hemorrhoids when they came around for my checks and I could barely left my legs for them. When I left the hospital 2 days later, I had to shuffle out of the hospital, moving about half a foot and a time, because I was in so much pain. Being a first time mom, I had not idea this was not just part of normal birthing pain. At one of my daughter’s newborn checkups about 2 weeks later, the nurse at my physician’s office noticed that I was sitting sideways (on my hips instead of my bum) on the chair in the waiting room, and asked if I would like the doctor to check me out. I happily accepted and a few hemorrhoids were discovered. Over the next 9 months, I tried prescription strength hemorrhoid creams, suppositories, steroid creams, and finally internal ice therapy (which actually worked pretty well!). About 11 months after my daughter’s birth, I got in to see a specialist at a world-renowned clinic, who pretty much told me I didn’t have hemorrhoids, but I had anusitis (irritation and inflammation of the anus) from using all the creams. I cleared that up, and when 3 months later I still wasn’t feeling any better, I returned to the clinic for another investigative exam. This time, the doctor told me I had an anal fissure starting on the inside and coming out and up towards my tail bone. He gave me a prescription for nitroglycerin cream as he simultaneously backed out of the room (great bed-side manner, let me tell you…). I used this cream to no avail, and returned to my physician to get a referral to a different doctor. A few months later, I saw the new doctor who gave me a sigmoidoscopy, confirmed the presence of a mass of internal hemorrhoids and the anal fissure, and told me there was nothing he could do for me. I told him I needed to get this under control because I wanted to have another child but couldn’t while in so much pain, to which he replied “Well, if you want to have another child that’s your prerogative and you’ll just have to deal with it”. I left his office in tears.
Time went on and I was in an enormous amount of pain. Every few weeks I was confined to the couch, not able to walk, bend down, sit, pick up or play with my daughter, and certainly not have sex with my husband. Frustrated with doctors not listening to what I was telling them, the next time I had a flare up I bit the bullet and got the camera out. I took pictures of the marble-sized black and blue mass on my anus (sorry, but it’s true!) and called the first clinic I attended to make an appointment, but requested a different doctor. The doctor looked at my pictures and confirmed that the intense pain I had been having since my daughter was born was from a peri-anal hematoma. An appointment was made for the next week, and 20 months after the birth of my daughter, I had it lasered off (I was terrified, but the surgery was less painful than the flare-up!). I thought this was the end of all my problems, but about 6 weeks later, the pain was back. This pain was different, so again, I made an appointment at the clinic where I had the hematoma lasered off, and again got nitroglycerin cream for the fissure which wasn’t successful. To compound this problem, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) when I was 14, and the alternation between diarrhea and constipation does nothing for my fissure or hemorrhoids. It has been 16 months since I had the hematoma removed, and I am 100% better than I was, but still suffer with pain almost every day. Depending on how my IBS is doing, the pain alternates as being from either my fissure or the hemorrhoids, and I haven’t been successful in healing either. I am sure I don’t have to go into how much this destroys my quality of life. My husband has been so supportive and patient and tolerant through this whole ordeal, but I can tell that he is getting tired of it, as am I. I want to be able to take advantage of naptime and jump his bones, without turning him down because my bum hurts or going through with it and suffering with the pain for the next 3-4 days. I hide my true feelings by saying I don’t want another child, when in reality I would love one but am so scared that because of what it will do to my already injured body I won’t be able to go through with a pregnancy and subsequent birth. It is the only thing in my life that truly brings me to tears every time I think about it. Is this my reality? Is this the rest of my life? Pain every day, always worried about if the foods I eat or the next bowel movement will cause enough pain to keep me from doing the things I really want to do, especially being a mom of two? That thought is like a punch in the stomach.
Has anyone ever had problems with a hematoma, hemorrhoids, or fissure after childbirth? What did you do about them? How long did it take to heal? Any natural remedies that were helpful? Anyone have surgeries to fix these problems? And what I’m most scared to ask, has anyone had these problems and then had another pregnancy? Did it make the problem worse? I am at a loss, and I really don’t know what else to do. I am a strong person by nature, but this is about as much as I can handle. I appreciate anyone who can help shed some light.
As mentioned, here are a few pictures of me almost 3 years after my daughter was born. And I must say, even though I have been through so much pain, my daughter is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I wouldn’t trade her for the world….although it would be nice to have a bum that doesn’t hurt!