Simone's motherhood story - I didn't expect how much my body would change post pregnancy
"Nothing prepares you for becoming a parent.” If I had a dollar for every time I heard this well-meaning insight uttered to me during my first pregnancy, I’d be penning this from my very own tropical getaway… cocktail by my side. However, us Mums know there is a reason for this – there are no truer words spoken.
Those nine months of giddy anticipation of holding that tiny human in your arms is one of the most exciting times in a Mother’s life. But, seriously I had no idea the magnitude at which my life would change. I read all the books, downloaded all the apps, attended all those parenting seminars at the hospital about breastfeeding, settling, the list goes on – I was so ready to give this parenting caper a red hot go.
What I wasn’t prepared for was how my body would change. And in a way I never expected.
The first indication should have been when they declared at the seven week dating scan that “it appears you are going to have a very big baby.” How they could tell at such an early stage is beyond me. I was thinking “Sure, a big baby is a healthy baby, right?”
They wanted to track me closely, which meant turning up to hospital and having a growth scan every four weeks throughout my pregnancy. The word Macrosomia was bandied about, which prompted the reflex of me crossing my legs just that little bit tighter. They tested me for gestational diabetes, not once, but three times! Convinced there must be a medical reason for such a large baby. Nope. All tests came back negative. One midwife sagely advised me not to bother buying 0000 sized baby clothes and to pack my hospital bag with only 000 instead.
The first six months of pregnancy were pretty cruisy. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t suffer morning sickness, still felt relatively energised and continued to hit the gym each week until my bump got in the way. Perhaps the universe was attempting to halt any feelings of smugness creeping in when the proverbial wheels started to fall off. Pain and discomfort thought they’d move in and hang out for a while in the way of ‘round ligament strain’ and ‘Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction’ (SPD).
Essentially my uterus was straining under the weight of the baby and my pelvis was painfully separating… and I still had 12 weeks to go!
By this stage I’m thinking “WTF? Where is this written in any of the pregnancy books?” I could barely walk during the last few weeks of pregnancy, with the promise of a delicious treat from the local bakery the only thing getting me shuffling out of the house.
I never really had a birth plan. I thought I’d go with the flow and do what the professionals told me. Heck, what did I know about birthing babies? Unlike the experienced hospital staff, I was navigating uncharted territory. When the obstetrician spelled out the options and the risks of birthing a large baby and inadvertently advising a caesarean was my safest option, I was utterly devastated. My easy-going attitude and birth plan of doing what I was told left me distraught.
My waters broke the morning the caesarean was scheduled. I headed into hospital where they sent my husband and I to a room saying we should just chill out until I needed to be prepped for theatre, muttering that nothing much would happen. We were still in that little room three hours later. I think they forgot about us. My contractions were coming hard and fast and when the staff realised the baby was indeed on its way, they had me on that trolley and running up the halls of RPA at a swift pace.
Our ‘little’ man arrived safely weighing in at 4.55kgs. A decent size, but thankfully not record breaking.
My husband and I were thrilled to head home and start our new life as a family of three. We descended into that world of sleepless nights, endless nappy changes, lots of starring in wonderment at what we had created, constantly second guessing ourselves and Googling ALL the things. Like all new parents we were muddling through and doing our best.
A few months into motherhood I started to question if things were physically ‘feeling right’. I voiced some concerns during my six week check up at the hospital and without giving me an examination the male doctor dismissed my questions and declared that there was nothing to worry about.
Thanks to an amazing GP, I eventually found myself at a physio that specialises in pelvic health. I had no idea these amazing humans even existed. I was told my feelings of ‘not feeling quite right’ physically were not at all uncommon for postpartum women and that the reason for my uneasiness was due to a slight prolapse. I was shocked. Here I was naively thinking because I had a caesarean that all would be fine ‘downstairs’, but apparently it’s not the delivery of a baby that necessarily does the damage, but the pregnancy too. And given I had an above average sized baby, my vajayjay wasn’t quite like she used to be.
I was put on an exercise program of sorts. The physio gave me weights… for my vagina. I had absolutely no idea these existed. It turns out all the Mum friends I questioned didn’t either. One girlfriend thought it sounded a bit sexy. I was quick to inform her that there was absolutely NOTHING sexy about it. It was a total chore - just another thing on my to-do list. Things did improve, but not enough to get me feeling back to normal. Knowing I wanted to have another baby in the near future the physio administered a pessary to keep things in place. A vaginal scaffolding, if you will.
#FML. I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever be the same again.
I went on to have my second baby, a gorgeous girl weighing in at 4.35kg. A fierce ball of muscle with the attitude to match. When I thought I was physically ready, I hit those weights again. But still things weren’t great. The hard work was not paying off.
I found myself in the rooms of a Doctor (Urogynaecologist, Pelvic Floor Surgeon, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist) who informed me I had a prolapsed uterus. It seems carrying two large babies had taken its toll on my insides. The only way to fix it was major surgery.
I had not heard of anyone my age suffering from a prolapsed uterus. Given the age of the women sitting in the waiting area, I shouldn’t have been surprised, they all looked in their 60’s or older. I was informed that having another baby was not in the best interests of my wellbeing. Holding my baby girl, I felt so alone.
I underwent the surgery and now have a mesh net holding up my uterus that is anchored to my spine, along with a plastic cuff around my bladder holding it in place. The surgery and recovery were the most painful experience I have had to endure. I was unable to lift anything heavier than 3kgs for at least six weeks (quite the challenge with an eight month old baby), was unable to drive for a month, not to mention the physical pain which was unbearable at times. The positive being that everything is back as it should be, for now. The net will only last for approximately ten years, so I will have to make some considered decisions in a few years to come.
I think it is so important that EVERY. SINGLE. WOMAN should be afforded the right to see a pelvic health physio post birth. In fact, it should be mandatory. So many of us soldier on after birth thinking everything is OK, when in reality our bodies have undergone the most miraculous of events and are unlikely to ever be the same. Although every woman’s experience is different, it helps to be informed. I highly recommend the team at Pelvic Health Melbourne, they are all amazing. Us Mums need to look after ourselves.
I’m passionate about film, photography and music - my career started in the music industry and I still love seeing live music. The louder, the better. I’m partial to a G&T (or six), love supporting other women and when not hanging with my family, am most happy sipping coffee and reading books.
Motherhood in 5 words: Challenging, heart-warming, busy, hilarious and exhausting!
Fav family friendly place: Melbourne Museum and North Melbourne pool.
Coffee order: Double espresso. Boom!
Biz: Redman Communications
I’m a freelance publicist. I work mostly with entertainment clients getting the word out across traditional media and digital – especially with bloggers and influencers.
The information in this story is a unique and personal reflection of the writer's experience. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website