I Have To Do What? How Incontinence Changed My Life.

I can’t believe we are halfway through 2018! I have been sitting on this post for a while now, 8 months to be exact! I had every intention of getting this written and posted in November in recognition of “Bladder Awareness” month, which was a great idea but obviously didn’t happen. With that being said I don’t think there is ever a good month to talk about peeing in your pants so July works as well as any month! Incontinence… there it is, the word, the topic that all of us would like to ignore, but that many of us face after having a baby. Well, I have a better understanding than I would like considering I ended up in the gyno-urologist office about 6 months after having my first child. Having to acknowledge that my stress incontinence was at a point I had to be sitting here in this chair among 60+ year old men, most of them waiting on their wives who were being seen in the clinic, was humiliating! Here I was, 31 years old at the time and feeling as if ‘Depends’ was a better choice than this.

Lets rewind a bit, and go back to when I had my first baby… sweet Augustus. I pushed for 45 minutes and ended up having an episiotomy but my vaginal delivery went just fine. At the time, who cares right? I am holding the most beautiful baby boy and everything “down there” will be just fine. I had more important things to worry about now like breastfeeding, sleeping, changing diapers; caring for a human being that quite frankly I had no clue how to do. Thank goodness mother instincts kick in, and you just get it done. The first 6 weeks at home was the usual with a newborn, eat, sleep, poop, repeat… We would take walks and as a runner I couldn’t wait till that 6 week check up to get the go ahead to start running! Now I understand this isn’t everyone’s goal at the 6 week check up, we mostly are just trying to survive (I get it), but this was definitely on the top of my list to get back to. I was so excited, and started light jogging working my way up to 3 miles with no problem. At about 4 to 5 months, I noticed that I was having a little leakage when I was running which over the stretch of a 2 week period became so bad I couldn’t make it a block without having to go home and change.   So I paused and went back to the basics, Kegels and Abdominal Bracing (activating the Transversus Abdominis) thinking this would help get it under control. It did help some but didn’t fix the problem. I was in such disbelief, I wouldn’t talk to anyone about it, thinking well this is just part of it; I had a baby and this is a normal part of the process. I stopped running and decided I would give it a little time. Around 6 months I tried again after religiously doing my exercises, but once again about a block away I had to stop and walk home. I knew at this point, I had to do something different. I had heard a few times on the radio about a doctor at the Women’s Hospital who specialized in incontinence and things of that nature, so I called and there I was sitting in the waiting room, looking at every brochure that definitely had no one on it looking like me!

The appointment went great, besides the fact that I had a Stage 3 ‘pelvic organ prolapse’, I was among a very small percentage of women who deal with this at my age and/or after their first pregnancy, and to fix it would require surgery which wasn’t suggested unless I was done having children (which I wasn’t). (I hope you hear the sarcasm in this) Oh and the icing on top… if I wanted to run, I would have to insert something into my vagina to hold my bladder up! Fantastic! There I was in the exam room jumping up and down and running in place while trying different Vaginal Pessaries (yes, this is a real thing, who in their right mind knew!) to figure out which one was going to work. And yes ladies just like clothes there are different shapes and sizes that fit your body! Leaving the appointment, I was in disbelief, but definitely hopeful about getting to run again. Since then, I put in my Pessary and off I go with no problem! I’m now trying to decide if I get my bladder slinged or if I have another baby! Ha

Looking back I shake my head because I was so foolish. As a physical therapist, I should have realized starting running at 6 weeks without doing any type of program was a bad idea. My body was still recovering and healing, and the added stress of running, a high impact activity, did me no favors. The one great thing about this happening is my contribution to the Back After Baby program, and realizing the much needed education and resources that all of us moms need after having a baby. The proper way of getting back into an exercise routine is a ligitiment statement! Incontinence is a real issue, so I encourage you to be an advocate for your health, talk about it, and find someone who can help whether that be a MD or a Physical Therapist. There are lots of options to get you back to doing things you love to do!

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