It has been 2.5 years since my battle with post-partum depression. I have come a long way from that awful summer. I haven't written much about that experience lately, because I am busy writing my book about foster care. I am writing about my 12 children that shared our home for different periods of their lives. I changed their names to protect their identity. I am almost done with that book and will be hopefully publishing it to share with you all. I am so excited for my kids, family, and friends to read it!!
My "baby" Phillip is 2.5 years old. He is a busy little guy. He makes me laugh everyday. He is a lover and a mamma's boy. The other morning I told him it was time to get up and was explaining to him the things we had to do that day. He opened his sleepy eyelids and told me quietly to "stop talking." I bust out laughing! OK- so he is not a morning person.
I have been battling a silent struggle that I won't go into too much. It is too graphic and I am not that open about it yet. Some of you already know, but most don't. I had a fourth degree tear with both my children. (A complete tear) I healed very well after my daughter but not so great after Phillip. I am positive this had something to do with my horrible struggle with post-partum depression. I used to sob every time I had to use the bathroom because of the pain. I saw three doctors who dismissed me. I was told it was just the way my hips were. I was also told how well I healed. Finally, I kept going to different doctors and a male doctor- is the one who actually did an exam. He called it obstetric trauma, or obstetric fistula.
I went to see a surgeon in May and had my prep. surgery. Then in July I had a pretty big surgery. I was in a lot of pain and couldn't do much of anything for six weeks. The surgery failed and it actually made matters worse. I was devastated and very angry. I became depressed again. I didn't give up hope though. I prayed and prayed that God would heal me.
I went to see an amazing doctor who did my surgery on Oct. 19th. She told me it would extremely painful. I didn't care. I knew if she could fix this problem, I would be so grateful. She did an excellent job and I am recovering well. I am in a lot of pain, but I am grateful. She also discovered two more issues and was able to fix that as well. God knew what he was doing. He knew that first surgery wouldn't work and if it did, I would still have problems down the road. I am so thankful.
I am doing this once again to create awareness. I want to make you all aware of the silent suffering that is going on in third world countries and in developing countries.
Women in third world countries who have the problem I had, are shut out from their husbands, families, and community. That would be ME if I was there. It was bad enough I had to suffer for 2.5 years. These women are getting married at the young age of 9 or 10 and are pushing out babies and having massive injuries to their tiny bodies. They are not given any treatment and are sent home with devastating results. (Unable to control their bowels and/or bladders, infections, pain, no hope of treatment) Now there are centers and doctors that treat these women and perform the surgeries at little cost to the women because they can't afford it. It is life changing for these women. They are able to live a normal life again instead of being shut out from society all because SHE HAD A BABY.
My situation was not that extreme. I would get depressed because I was in a lot of pain most of the time. It affected EVERY area of my life. I love to run, but there were times I would get done running and be in so much pain, I would have to wait three or four days before trying to run again. I am a social person, but I found myself not wanting to go anywhere.
This is a problem in developing countries as well. I have met so many amazing women in a group that is a support for women like me. The problem is that most doctors/surgeons don't know how to fix this problem. So we are waiting and waiting to be "fixed" to be "normal" again and instead we have failed surgery after failed surgery. A few have been lucky and have found great surgeons. I guess I am lucky too because my surgeon goes to Congo to help women with obstetric trauma. She is an amazing woman. In fact, she is the woman who suggested I go for in-patient treatment with my post-partum depression. I want to tell her thank you so much because she saved my life-twice!
I am researching places to donate to this cause. My heart is still in Kenya and there are a few hospitals set up to work with women with obstetric trauma. Much like post-partum depression, people don't talk about this issue. It is a silent tragedy and the victims suffer in silence.
One website to learn how to help is www.hamlinfistula.org
A friend of mine also founded operationhopefistula.com