I would like to introduce you to Lindsay, a mother of 2 young girls, a fitness enthusiast who
realized something was terribly wrong 6 weeks after she had her first. She had no idea what was going on, or what it was that she was feeling, and unfortunately, the medical community let her down. Her doctor had no clue…”told me to do Kegels and it should get better”. Her OG/Gyn didn’t have much more to say, except for confirming that she had a grade 2 prolapse. It wasn’t until she was in a Bellies Inc course that I was teaching at the time that she finally got some understanding of what that was and most importantly, some valuable information as to what she could, and should, do. She has kindly agreed to answer some questions and share her story here with us.
1. What was your first reaction/feeling/emotion when you found out that you have a prolapse?
I was devastated. It sounds dramatic, but I thought my life as I knew it was over. I was a very active person before my pregnancy and the only thing I could think of was that I'd have to give all of that up and take on a more sedentary lifestyle. I felt like I was broken and a prisoner in my own body. My mind wanted my body to do the things it did before, but my body was incapable of doing that. I didn't tell anyone, but my mom and my husband because I was embarrassed and ashamed that my body had failed me. I also didn't know of anyone else that had experienced prolapse so I felt so so so alone. And I was REALLY REALLY angry that no one had talked to me about the possibility of this happening, no one mentioned the importance of the pelvic floor during pregnancy and child birth....no one explained to me the changes or the impact that carrying a baby had on my body.
2. I remember from the course where I met you that you told us how upsetting this was as you had big goals for your fitness and physical recovery post partum. But how did this affect you as a woman, sexually and emotionally?
I felt broken, I felt ashamed and I honestly felt disgusting. Knowing that my organs had shifted and were on their way outside my body, took away all self-confidence I had. I did not feel sexy at all and just wanted to hide away. A lot of the self confidence that I had as a woman came from the strength I obtained while working out...both physical and mental. Challenging myself, lifting heavy, setting personal records in the gym...all of that helped shape me as a woman. It gave me the strength and self-confidence to face the day so without that, I felt like a completely different person who was lacking a significant amount of self-love.
3. Did you worry that this was going to affect your relationship with your husband/partner?
I remember having a breakdown in front of my husband and telling him that I thought I was going to lose him. This was before we even tried having sex after I was diagnosed. I read a lot of articles that said women who suffer from prolapse often experience painful sex. So, I assumed that was going to be me as well. My husband and I had a very passionate sex life before kids and in my distorted mind I thought he was going to look elsewhere if I couldn't provide that for him anymore. I had a really hard time shaking this off, knowing I had a prolapse and how much it changed the lifestyle I was accustomed to. I stopped engaging with my husband and just moped around the house taking care of the only thing I had to take care of...my baby. It definitely affected our relationship because it affected me in such a deep way that I was no longer the person my husband fell in love with, I was no longer the person he married. I let the diagnosis consume everything about me and the only thing I cared about was finding a way to fix it. I think that's why I get so emotional when I talk about it because I know what it did to me, my husband, my family. There were a lot of dark times where all I wanted to do was sit in my bed all day and let the world pass me by. I wasn't there for my husband in any capacity so it really challenged our relationship.
4. Were you afraid or nervous about having sex at all?
Yes, I was terrified. Like I said before, I had read numerous testimonies from other woman saying how painful sex was with a prolapse....many confessing that they needed alcohol just to get through it. I assumed that's the way it was going to be for me too so I put off having sex with my husband for months.
5. Did you share these feelings/thoughts with your husband/partner?
Yes, I was always open and honest with my husband about everything. I wear my emotions on my sleeve...it's hard for me to hide anything.
6. How did he react and in what way did this affect you?
He reacted exactly the way I knew he would...he hugged me and told me everything was going to be ok and that we would get through it. His reaction definitely made me feel better in the moment, but I still knew I had a lot to overcome. He was always there for me and was always understanding....very gentle and very caring. He let me take the lead on sex and only when I was ready.
7. What would be your advice to young women who receive this diagnosis?
There is hope!! Go see a pelvic floor physiotherapist and do your research. You cannot cure a prolapse, but you can rehab it so you don't have to suffer. Make sure the lifestyle you are living is prolapse friendly and be in tune with your body! Don't assume that sex is painful for you, everyone is different and you won't know until you try. A prolapse is not life threatening, it can affect the quality of your life, but only if you let it. The biggest hurdle for me was acceptance, once I had accepted this was my new body I worked with it instead of against it. It's YOUR body and you only get one so treat it with respect and treat it with love. It is not broken, you are not broken. Your body gave you the gift of life...so consider it a battle wound, like stretch marks, a sweet reminder of what you have been given.
8. What is your advice to husbands?
Be understanding, be patient, be loving and be gentle. Your wife is coming to terms with the fact that her body has changed...it has changed in ways that she may not have even imagined. Just be there for her when she needs you and don't downplay this diagnosis. This is a big deal to her. It can be shocking at first so she needs your support and help so she can learn how to accept her new body and love herself again. Until she accepts her new self, help her focus on the positive things in life and the amazing gift you were given. Tell her she's beautiful. Tell her she's amazing. Tell her everything will be ok. Because it will.