As I sit down to write this post, on one hand I am so ready to type away and on the other hand I just want to close this laptop and snuggle with my honey. But I’m just going to let these fingers roll over these keys…so here goes ‘Stay Out of My Uterus’
‘After the MRI and further analysis, looks like you have Adenomyosis’ my former OB/GYN said to me. I sat on the exam table for a few seconds taking the information in as she continued to explain what the condition was. I was thinking ‘wait I was just in Ghana having fun with my family as I prepared to be married off…what in the world is Adenomyosis?’ Then I heard the doctor say pregnancy and hysterectomy in the same sentence. My ears shot up and I asked what did you say? She repeated the information basically saying at 28 if I didn’t have children soon, I may need hysterectomy in the not so distant future. I was thinking ‘but I came in for a simple prolonged bleeding’…OK let’s rewind a bit. In 2010, I visited my family in Ghana for about three weeks; I was on the pill and had to take it at a precise time (as most of you may know) so I did my time calculations and figured out the time I’d take it (I should have just stuck with U.S time but the time equivalent meant I had to wake up at night!) The vacation was fun, spent time with family, got me and my then fiance’s traditional marriage knocking ceremony done and headed back to the United States. I had started bleeding in Ghana but I thought oh this was just my period messing up due to stress, change in time zones etc…it’ll stop when I settle down back home (U.S). Three weeks after my arrival, I was still bleeding, that’s when I scheduled an appointment with my GYN. After explaining symptoms including pills, time zone, and bleeding, the doctor did a physical exam then asked me to go for an x-ray. I had to wait a few days for the results which felt like years because as young woman, anything that had to do with my reproductive parts was definitely alarming. I received a phone call from the doctor’s office stating that the x-ray was inconclusive so I needed to go for an MRI. Got that scheduled at Gwinnett Medical Imaging center and went in for the appointment. I was a nervous wreck! My husband was on deployment in Afghanistan so this was all me…no friend no family just me, radiologist and Holy Spirit. Again, I was told to wait a couple of days for results so there was another round of nervousness…I will admit that my faith hadn’t really matured then (I’d just been a born again believer only a couple of years) so rather than divert my fears to the Lord, I resorted to Google research and allowed that to feed my spirit so by the time I walked into the doctor’s office for the MRI results, I’d already prepared myself for the worst. She read the results and mentioned Adenomyosis.
According to Web MD, Adenomyosis is a condition in which the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus (the myometrium). Adenomyosis can cause menstrual cramps, lower abdominal pressure, and bloating before menstrual periods and can result in heavy periods. The condition can be located throughout the entire uterus or localized in one spot. Though adenomyosis is considered a benign (not life-threatening) condition, the frequent pain and heavy bleeding associated with it can have a negative impact on a woman’s quality of life. My Doctor asked me if I was married, planning on having kids…I answered in the affirmative to both questions. Her next statement was that if we (my husband and I) were planning on having kids, we should start immediately and not wait because this condition as I age will make conceiving difficult. This all happened between January and February, 2011. I did not seek any second opinion because I trusted her, she was and is well known in Atlanta now and although we had planned on having a wedding later that year, I thought ‘what the heck…wedding can wait’. I walked out of her practice that day, went home and had a good cry then skyped with my husband that evening. I told him the gist of what was going on but thankfully they were returning from deployment in a few weeks so I knew I’d have his shoulder to lean on…soon.
End of February, 2011 they were here! I was all giddy, excited to have my sailor back! We spent some much needed quality time in Gulfport, MS; shared some great memories and eventually talked about my test results. We both decided well we will get off the pill and start the baby making process. My doctor had told me being on the pill for that long since college, it’ll take anywhere from 3-6 months to conceive. We thought it’ll definitely be 6 months and although we had already gotten married in the court a couple of years back, we wanted to have a wedding so December 2011 it was. Did this plan work? Noooooo! Just a month after I came off the pill…bam! I got knocked up! I actually found out or knew I was pregnant when I attended one of my dear college friend’s baby shower in Wisconsin. I hadn’t gotten my period, and I was craving a whole lot of Gambian seasoned Tilapia (which her mom made so deliciously well) My girlfriends tried to get me to take a pregnancy test that weekend but I protested. So all through the weekend, there was a baby cooking inside my uterus as I climbed on chairs hanging decorations, eating hot sauce and fish and pretty much hanging with preggo belly all weekend …lol. I still giggle when I look at pictures from that weekend. I returned home (Atlanta) that Sunday and took a pregnancy test with my husband and yup…we were expecting. Lots of questions going through my mind as I looked back on the months prior.
My uterus had an occupant! Yikes! Yeah! Yikes! Those were pretty much the feeling I had going on as I went through my pregnancy. I experienced the classic morning sickness the first trimester but something else came with the morning sickness…mouth constantly filled with saliva. And my profession? I am an HR Training Professional and at that time, I was a Trainer so I constantly had to be talking in front of people or over the phone. Mehn this pregnancy rocked me and stole my energy! Thankfully, I had a boss who understood my plight so allowed me to take a break from training that first trimester and also work from home…Amen! I craved carbs…you know Whole Foods french toast, Red Robin burgers, classic Taco Bell midnight runs, pumpkin pies etc. Before pregnancy I was a shapely size 12…loved my curves. Slowly I saw my curves change…at first I felt good but then as the pregnancy progressed, I begun to go in and out of sadness…then happiness…then back and forth. I was quite active pre-pregnancy so I continued my regular regimen – more walking…more walking. However, the scale at the doctor’s office kept going up. PAUSE… did I mention I left my first OB/GYN after we got pregnant? Yes I did…the reason was due to the impersonal nature of the very first office visit to confirm our pregnancy. The new doctor was very personable and took time with me as a first time mom-to-be. OK back to the doctor scale…yes…the scale kept going up during this pregnancy to the point where he put me on a monitoring of diet duty. I reported back to him and said…you aren’t eating anything out of the ordinary. So pregnancy progressed and occupant baked well.
Throughout my pregnancy I was always a few months behind in terms of how I should
have felt. So first trimester, I was still in the mood of oh wait I had up to 6 months to get pregnant. Second trimester I was in the first trimester mood of oh hey look surprise…I’m pregnant…there’s actually a baby in this belly. Third trimester I was in the second trimester mood of this is good, I’ve gained weight…what else is new! So the day my water broke and our baby girl was born I wasn’t ready for her to get out of my uterus, I wasn’t ready to meet her, I wasn’t ready to be a MOTHER!!! But she was here…and I was fluctuating through shock, sadness, happiness, then back to sadness. My husband did his best to help with the new human being in the home, no family had arrived yet – my mother-in-love’s timeline of arrival was t-30 days! Yikes! So on day 3 post delivery, we left the hospital with our baby in tow, just the two of us to figure it out the next few weeks. We got the dog to smell test baby clothes and not be jealous, we got crib situated in the master bedroom, we got breast milk pump all set up and ready.
I don’t remember how we made it through day 1 at home. I was still in a state of shock, feet started swelling, knees started hurting going up and down the stairs, I felt blah all over! But then I had to get myself together as guests rolled in and out of the house with meals, hugs, prayers etc. When I look back now all I feel is a lot of loneliness. I couldn’t stand my baby’s cries, anytime my husband would leave for work I’d go down on my knees and pray to God that he sees us (baby and I) through the day and that she didn’t cry a whole lot. There were days where she would cry so much, I’d put her on the bed with pillows propped up around her and I’d scream in the guestroom next door, cry out and talk myself out of the many thoughts that went through my mind. My body wasn’t mine, breast milk refused to flow, I didn’t know how to feel, my emotions were all over the place! I needed ME back…but it was nowhere to be found. Most days, It was a repeat of get up, feed baby, see husband off to work, change baby, feed baby, burp baby, here comes the flood of emotions…oops prop baby with pillows, go to the next room and cry away, return to baby, stare at baby, pick up baby, feel like shaking baby….NO! Some voice will scream somewhere in my head…put baby down…walk away Kate…OK…put baby down, walk away, return to baby, go on my knees and dig deep to find a reason to love baby, oh I love my baby, pick up baby, soothe baby, baby stops crying… It wasn’t until I went for my 6 week checkup that I came to the realization that these were classic symptoms of postpartum depression. I completed the survey at the OB/GYN’s office that asks you a series of questions about you (the mother) and your well being. After tallying up the score…it was clear as daylight what it was. In discussing with my doctor, we both decided – let’s get Kate back to Kate first, and if we need to intervene with other measures we will. I knew that I needed to find me! I needed to know that she existed somewhere…my husband loving, cuddling, hugging, kissing me wasn’t going to fix that; friends and family visiting and helping with household to-dos wasn’t going to help with that; seeing, holding, and being around church and kids wasn’t going to help with that. I needed time with me!
How God healed me from postpartum depression is amazing; He used what I was fearful of the most during that season, to make me whole. About two years into my daughter being born, I still refused to serve in the classrooms of our children’s ministry at church (Victory World Church). I only wanted to be at the reception…I still got bad thoughts and feelings when I heard a baby or child cry. I needed this to change because folks were starting to ask ‘when are you having the next baby?’ Often times I’d just smile. I knew my struggle and I surrendered that struggle to Him. I laid it at His feet and said ‘Lord, you have given me a great gift. This gift I am finding it difficult to bond with, to love. I am asking you to heal me emotionally, spiritually and physically so I can take care of this gift you’ve given us. I need you to show me where and how to start’. And He did…started by asking me to sign up to serve in the children’s ministry…I did. Then I got asked to become a lead coach in the pre-school classrooms (which meant being with kids). I told my pastor I would pray about it. I did and the Lord said…DO IT! I did. I got up and started working on me…I went from a size 12 pre-pregnancy to a size 26 post pregnancy…I knew it would take a while but I needed to just start. I set small goals with diet and exercise…I just needed to feel good. Forget the weight loss, or getting back to pre-pregnancy…all I needed was to stand in front of the mirror in our bathroom and not feel like smashing it because I didn’t like the body that I was now in. Notice I didn’t say ‘because I didn’t like the person rather because I didn’t like the body’…I liked me, I loved me…I was just in the wrong body! And it was up to me to change that.
Many a times when a mother gives birth, the attention shifts to the newborn (naturally) and very little to the mother. If any attention is given, its more of what the new mother is/should be doing well, doing right, looking good (physically), needing any help (help undefined)…sometimes criticism particularly from family members who think they know better (sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t). What the support system fails to recognize is that mom physically may look fine but mentally she’s a huge ball of complicated emotions…which at any moment can explode. Every mother experiences postpartum differently; however to some degree we all try to get our bodies, our emotions, our thoughts, our being aligned. Some women do it so effortlessly, others need a little bit more of something…that something can only be determined by her,a doctor, a trusted friend, her faith…to help her through that postpartum stage. Up until I went through it, I was one of those women who judged moms who found themselves in the news for harming their newborns. Our bodies go through a lot during pregnancy with all the extra hormones and post delivery, it goes through what I call ‘detoxification’ where the extra hormones kinda miraculously disappears. What’s left – if unaligned – becomes a danger zone for the mom.
Every mom’s struggle with postpartum depression is different; so will the way in which she seeks help and gets healed from it. Family members and friends must really listen to the mom and her feelings and while providing physical support, do provide non-judgmental listening ears, and an environment where the new mom can slowly wean off the ‘hormone high’ and get back to herself. By changing my diet and enjoying active routines, slowly I guess chemically my mental and physical state became aligned… got balanced… However, I shall freely proclaim that had it NOT been for my FAITH and leaning on my heavenly Father, I don’t know where I’d be today. I specifically cried to Him to fix me spiritually and mentally to be able to love my kid…love kids! He did just that…slowly as I praised and worshiped Him with the kids, seeing their innocence, their zeal for life often brought me to my knees in the privacy of my home. Eventually, I felt my love for kids…beyond my own grow stronger, and hearing babies cry, or kids cry didn’t bother me anymore. The very first time I heard a baby cry and actually reached out to console the baby, I knew my God had healed me and I was free from the struggle.
Today, my daughter is almost 5 years old; I love her so very much…she’s my heart and I thank God that His spirit stayed with me through those darkest days of her early days, weeks, months. Folks have been looking, and waiting to see a sibling…. Folks have been asking…and asking…and asking…and I just want to say ‘stay out of my uterus!’ Rather than asking a mom when is the next baby, the focus should be on that mom’s health in all aspects – physical, mental, social, spiritual. If these aren’t aligned and healthy, what good will another baby do to her and her family? I’ve been through adenomyosis, postpartum depression, extreme weight gain, lost me… BUT then slowly found me again. Allow me the time to enjoy ME, allow me the time to be ME, allow me the time to accept ME, allow me time to prepare and embrace another occupant in this uterus because, after all it’s my uterus and it’s been through hell and back! When it’s time for you to be in this uterus .i.e. well wishes, check-ins, etc I’ll be sure to inform you …and I say all this with much love.