Lauren's motherhood story - A missed diagnosis
To say my introduction to motherhood was tough is a complete understatement. In short – I went through hell, and wondered whether I’d seriously pissed someone off in a past life and karma was coming back to bite me. Like big time!
Late in 2009 I fell pregnant with my first child. I sailed through my first trimester with no nausea and generally no issues at all. And all the scans showed that all was good with my little peanut.
The first half of my second trimester was easy and I was super excited to find out I was having a girl, and I had the chance to recreate the amazing bond I have with my Mum.
Then, at 30 weeks everything went to shit. And fast. I had a small fall at home, I slipped over on wet floorboards. I was a bit shaken but not in any real pain. Later that week I felt strong pain in my groin and called my obstetrician, who suggested it was more than likely pelvic instability. I had no idea what that was, so I did my research and it sounded about right.
Over the next few days I was in serious pain, struggling to walk let alone drive. I went to see a sports physio and a regular physio and neither could help. I even tried acupuncture and it didn’t help either. Next was a chiropractor specialising in women’s health and she suggested a walking stick for support.
After a hospital check to see if my peanut was OK (and phew she was!), I ended up on a zimmer frame (you know the frame on wheels you associate with 80 year olds?). What the?
Fast forward two weeks and I literally couldn’t walk. My knees were buckling every time I tried to stand. I couldn’t walk across the room. I couldn’t walk up or down stairs. I couldn’t drive. I needed help getting in and out of bed. I needed help to get dressed and undressed. I couldn’t look after myself. It was crazy! Mum had to stop work altogether and practically move in with us.
Over the next few weeks, I was basically disabled and needed around the clock care. But “I was fine” and “not dying” and trying so bloody hard to put on a brave face.
My husband (at the time) was working full time, so he did as much as he could before and after work. And I honestly have no idea how I would have got through without my Mum.
The night before I was due at the hospital for a C-section, I was in my room and I fell. My legs had buckled underneath me and I was stuck between the walking frame, my bed and a small chest of drawers. I thought I was squashing my girl and I freaked. It felt like I was stuck there for an eternity and eventually my husband got me up on the bed.
It was 1am, I was a total mess and I needed Mum. Her and her partner got there as soon as they could and we also decided to call an ambulance. The paramedics were brilliant and in no time we were on the way to the hospital.
The next day Ava Isabel was born and she was incredible. I was lost for words and full of the best kind of tears. But it was so bittersweet, as part of me was in hell. But I pushed that all away for Ava. And I got on with learning how to be a mother.
So I’m trying to recover from a C-section and the pain in my pelvic area was off the charts. I still couldn’t walk. I couldn’t even lift my legs to get down from the bed and go to the toilet. It was nuts.
I saw a neurosurgeon, had an MRI, but all looked OK. What I didn’t know was that they had not scanned my pelvis. They had only scanned my back to check on my spine after the fall the night before. If only they had investigated further. The next few months would have been very different.
I spent seven days in hospital and when we left to go home, nothing had changed. They rolled out the pelvic instability diagnosis again so I had to trust that things would improve.
But things got a hell of a lot worse. Thankfully Ava was a good sleeper but don’t get me started on breastfeeding. Basically either my husband or my Mum had to bring Ava to me, I would feed her and they would put her back in her cot to sleep. I couldn’t pick her up. I couldn’t bathe her, I couldn’t do the simplest things for my girl and it was heart breaking. I was in a constant state of “Why me?”
Weeks passed with no improvement. I went to a new physio who specialised in women’s health, who was lovely but couldn’t do much to help. She recommended another physio who started me on a course of hydrotherapy. The logistics were intense as Mum had to take me and look after Ava and it was incredibly hard on all of us.
Picture this – me taking at least 10 minutes to walk (on my zimmer frame) into classes, get changed into my bathers, get in the pool, get dressed and back out to Mum who was parked outside with a sleeping baby in the car. The pain was excruciating and the effort was monumental. I was wrecked on those days.
Fast forward to four a half months after Ava was born. Every day was so hard. It hurt all the time. There literally wasn’t a day where I free of pain. It was unbearable. And it completely broke my spirit. I wasn’t me anymore. I was a shadow of the ‘me’ I was before Ava. It all felt incredibly unfair.
So I ended up back at my GP who was horrified to see what I was going through. She sent me for an x-ray and that’s when I found out what was really going on.
I had fractured not one, but both of my hips. After a massive cry, I was actually relieved. Shit scared of what came next, but I finally had an answer.
I went straight to hospital. First to emergency (at a private hospital), where they were astonished at how I ended up like this and they pulled one of the country’s top orthopaedic surgeons out of surgery to see me.
The x-rays showed that my left hip was basically shot to pieces, the femoral head (the ball joint) had completely eroded and in essence, my leg was swinging in the wind. The gap between it and my hip joint was 11mm. My right hip was also fractured and then managed to re-set itself incorrectly, so that leg was 2.5cm shorter than the left.
So I’d been walking around on two fractured hips for six and a half months. No wonder I was in pain!
They told me I needed a total hip replacement on my left hip and the right hip would have to wait. So off I went to a public hospital, as my private health insurance wouldn’t cover it. Who the hell ticks the ‘hip replacement’ box at the age of 38?
So how did his happen? It turns out I had transient osteoporosis, which was brought on by my pregnancy. I didn’t know I had weak bones which couldn’t cope, and the small fall I had (at 30 weeks) may have kicked it all off. I now have osteopenia (a precursor to osteoporosis) so it’s manageable and taking supplements keep it at bay.
At that point, they recommended I see a mental health expert as I was in pretty bad shape emotionally. Soon after, I started seeing a very kind and supportive therapist, and learned that I was suffering from a severe reactive depression. Me? No way. I just kept telling myself ‘”I’ll be OK” and “I’m not dying” but in truth I wasn’t OK at all. I was in a really bad way. I still see my therapist to this day and I truly believe I haven’t quite dealt with the grief of it all.
Two weeks later I had a hip replacement. The operation went well but I lost a lot of blood, and needed a transfusion. I was so sick and weak and barely remember seeing Ava through that time. Not sure if you know, but the recovery time after a hip replacement is 6-9 months. Oh yay, lucky me! I still hadn’t ever put my girl to bed let alone walk across the room her, it all seemed so far away and was incredibly hard to swallow.
At that point, we were lucky to be part of a government program, which provides support and care to parents in extreme circumstances. And the day I came home from hospital I met our new nanny, who was there five days a week to help me care for Ava.
Uneasy much? About a complete stranger coming to my house and me trying to recover from all of this with her there. I was freaking out, but Kiera put me at ease right from the start. And we remain friends to this day. Phew!
My recovery was long and bloody painful. It was so hard and the strong meds knocked me around a lot. After two weeks, I was up on crutches and on them for six months. Gah! But things started looking up when I got down to only one crutch.
And then the day came when I finally got to walk across the room with Ava. She was 10 months old. And it was a massive achievement.
Fast forward to April 2012, feeling well and as close to normal as possible. Ava was almost two, and I was back to hospital to have an osteotomy on my right hip. Where they cut the bone, straighten you up and put you back together with a huge metal plate and pins drilled into the leg.
This op was so much worse than the replacement. Here I was again in truckloads of pain and back on the meds, gah! With an expected recovery time of around 3-6 months, and a bout of pneumonia two weeks after the op to boot! More gah!
Through all of this I couldn’t work, which was really hard for me. I wasn’t going to rush back, but I had no choice in the matter, which was incredibly frustrating.
Late 2012 (when Ava was two and a half) I finally went back to work. Only two days a week to start and eventually worked my way up to reduced hours across four days.
Fast forward to January 2014, my right hip had healed well and I had another op to remove the metal pins. So including the caesarean, I had four operations in four years! Yeah not so much fun and nothing like how I thought my first four years of motherhood would play out.
In 2015 I separated from Ava’s Dad and moved out of the family home. It was hard but needed to be done and we’re all a lot happier these days. I set myself up in a lovely (but small) unit and Ava coped really well with the split and new arrangements, 50/50 shared care between two houses.
And now? Just over 12 months ago, I met the most amazing man who just gets me and is so great with Ava. In January this year we all moved in together, including my man’s two fur kids. Ava (and the fur kids) couldn’t be happier, and so are we.
What happened to me has changed my life forever but there were a whole lot of positives that came out of it. Great friends, quality time with Ava before going back to work, launching and developing my blog, ongoing therapy and a whole lot of self-discovery and development. Which made me realise that I need to spend a lot more time on the things that make me happy.
One of those being photography, and I’m building a side biz doing exactly that. And with a lot of hard work, fingers crossed it becomes my main hustle sooner rather than later.
All in all I’m a much better version of me than I was before, and whatever curve balls are thrown my way, I know I can get through anything.
My hobbies include creative workshops, colouring, pattern design, screen printing and fabric dyeing. I am a trained graphic designer, moved to the dark side (admin, haha!) and have worked an as Account Director in the graphic design industry for past 18 years. I started Me&MyGirl blog late 2014, which has developed into photography and content creation for small business. I am a loyal, loving, funny but stubborn person. I am obsessed with stripes, Gorman, salt n vinegar chips and taking photos.
Motherhood in 5 words: Amazing, crazy, challenging, difficult, emotional.
Fav family friendly place: Ampersand café in Thornbury
Coffee order: Soy latte with one sugar
Photography and content creation for small biz.
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