I sat on my bed wondering why I was in so much pain, unable to move, and could not even function mentally or physically. I had just gone through my third C-section for my third baby. Something felt different this time. My OB was a different doctor, one that the hospital director had recommended, however, one I did not know well. I had used a local midwives practice for my maternity medical care needs for all three pregnancies that partnered with the hospital OB/GYNs.
I knew something felt odd during my C-section when it took them 45 minutes just to take the baby out and there was a lot of whispering and pulling/jerking moves by the doctors, then more whispering. No one was telling me anything or talking to me or my husband. Finally, they took the baby out 45 minutes later, and another 25 minutes to patch me back up.
The baby was healthy the doctors said, and I was discharged to the recovery room. No one mentioned anything about the C-section, how it went, what they observed, why it took so long, anything out of the norm, nothing, nada.
I was on the IV medication and starting nursing my baby and didn’t notice anything different since I was still numb from the spinal and epidural in my back. The baby looked beautiful and healthy, and I imagined this was my third C-section, I’m a pro at this! I know exactly what to expect and I’m on it.
I was doing so well, the nurses took me off the IV medications sooner than normal. You don’t need these anymore, we’ll just put you on the oral meds they said. I was a little surprised as this was only a few hours in after the baby was born, but I didn’t think much of it. A few hours went by and a nurse was supposed to come and give me my oral meds every four hours. No one came. Five hours went by, then six.
I started feeling an immense amount of pain to the point of fainting. My cousin and my best friend were alternating staying the day and night with me so my husband could take care of my other two kids at home. They called the nurse and went into the hallway to track down a nurse.
The nurse said she was really busy and can’t keep track of my medication schedule. She indicated that it was my responsibility to call her when I needed pain meds. I thought this was very different than my experience with my first two kids and assumed something had changed in the hospital.
I asked my friend to keep track of the hours so we can request the meds earlier next time. Even with the meds, I was still in immense pain and I could not move from a lying down position.
I did not remember being in this much pain the last two times. I knew myself, and I knew I was not just being weak or just forgot about the pain after a C-section. Finally, a nurse came in and asked me how I was. It was standard procedure to shift nurses every set amount of hours. I could see that the nurse expected me to say with a big smile on my face, YES I feel fabulous! Of course, I did not feel anything close to it and I told her honestly I feel pretty crappy and in a LOT of pain which I find unusual as this is my third time and I do not recall bringing in this bad of shape before. The nurse had a confused look on her face and just said: “well you need to still try to get up and start walking around otherwise you’ll be in more pain later”. I tried to explain to her how I would love to do just that, but I am simply in too much pain and needed stronger pain meds and would love it if I don’t have to keep track of the hours. After telling many nurses the exact same thing and nothing happening, I finally asked to speak to a doctor.
One of the nurses finally called a doctor who ordered a stronger pain killer for me. I gave it a few hours, and those seemed to help a bit better however I kept passing in and out of consciousness and felt very queasy and sweaty as if I had food poisoning. This once again became an ordeal with the nurses as they claimed that the strong meds were causing my nausea symptoms so either I need to start walking without the meds or take the meds and deal with the after-effects.
I was beginning to feel really lonely and in despair. This was not the experience I was anticipating. My husband was at home. My friend and cousin were trying to help but no one could tell why I was having such a hard time with the pain until one of the attending doctors came in for a checkup.
I explained what had been happening ever since I was taken off the IVs. He seemed perplexed and said, “Let’s take a look at your incision”. I can still picture his facial reaction to what he saw next even today. Imagine seeing a baby dragon pop out of a human mother, that is what he looked like. His face just went pale, and he didn’t speak for several seconds.
“How big was your baby?” he asked. Seven pounds I answered.
“Was she in a head-down position or breech or transverse?” he continued. “Nope. Everything normal, head down in the right position.” I responded.
He paused for a second and asked if I knew that my incision was twelve inches long, about hip to hip if not longer. He asked if the OB that performed my surgery explained anything after the baby was born, or if I had any underlying health reason or concern that required a three to four times longer incision than a normal C-Section incision. I said no, everything was fine as far as I knew.
I left the hospital four days later still in immense pain, unable to walk, hold the baby, sit, stand, or even move any part of my body without cringing in unimaginable pain. The OB/GYN that performed my C-Section was MIA (Missing In Action) or so it seemed for several months afterward. I could not even get a phone call from her. Her assistants claimed she was either on vacation or On-Call and she would call back. She never did.
My two-week post-op was with the Director of the hospital who we thought was our family friend. She claimed that she had spoken to the actual OB about my surgery and nothing was out of the norm. She said that sometimes doctors just have to keep cutting as they find more scar tissue and it looks like in your case maybe there was a lot.
I told her how my entire body was in immense pain, not just the incision area. I could not function at all and I definitely do not recall being like this after my first two C-sections. I asked her if she could do any sort of test to see why I was having pain in other areas such as my abdomen (way above my incision), my back, and pretty much my entire mid-section. She had at first ordered an Ultrasound when I had called her earlier, but after I went to her office for a checkup, she took a look at all the areas I had pain. She claimed that I didn’t need an Ultrasound and canceled it. She told me I must have forgotten how bad it was, and how I should probably not contemplate having more kids after this, and how losing weight would help me feel less pain.
The only “good” advice she gave me was to visit a Pelvic Physical Therapist. Thankfully I actually knew of one so I immediately made an appointment to see her the next week. The moment she saw my incision and learned about all the immense pain I was having and my inability to even function, she immediately pointed out that something went wrong. She asked what the reasons were that my OB gave me. I told her my story and how so far the only explanation I’ve received was that the Director felt that the OB had to keep cutting as she found more scar tissue. However, the actual OB would not take my calls or let me come visit her.
My Physical Therapist immediately warned me to look for a lawyer but at the same time get a report from the OB’s office about how the C-section went. She stated that the reasons provided so far did not make any medical sense whatsoever. She indicated that by making an incision or any surgery for that matter causes scar tissue to form inside. Therefore by making a large incision, she just formed a ton of scar tissue several inches thick and across my entire waistline due to the extremely long incision! It does not make any sense for her to “keep cutting to remove existing scar tissue” per the Director of the hospital’s response as she just formed even more scar tissue!
I spent several weeks in physical therapy undergoing painful techniques to loosen up the massive amount of scar tissue that had gathered in the incision area and gotten harder. When I finally received the OB report, it did not state anything useful. It basically stated that everything went normally and they pulled the baby out successfully, The End. Nowhere in the report did it state the unusually long incision or the reason for it, or that they found scar tissue that they needed to remove.
We made some calls to Medical Malpractice lawyers and we finally got an appointment with the actual OB after we threatened to have my legal team call her if she doesn’t see me. When she finally met with me, she asked why I still can’t walk four months post-op. I told her that all I knew was that she made a large incision and I have pain everywhere in my mid-section. She asked to take a look, and her response was priceless. Her exact response was “I really don’t remember making that incision…hmmm…maybe the table was tilted or the knife just kept cutting without my knowledge. I really don’t know what to tell you. But, if you need more surgeries to fix anything I’ll make sure I am there to fix everything for you.”
All kinds of French words came to my mind and to avoid a physical or verbal altercation I simply walked out vowing never to see her face again! I finally decided to visit my family doctor to see what advice he had for me. He took one look at me and said: “If you are having this much pain in so many areas four months post-op and you can’t even walk, we need to get to the bottom of this.” He ordered a CT scan immediately.
Getting a correct reading on my CT scan results took me two more months and four different surgeons for each one had a different prognosis and treatment suggestion. Not one of them could give me an accurate answer. One said I had an umbilical hernia. Another said I had an incisional hernia. Yet another said I had both. My favorite one was the last surgeon that said he really doesn’t know what he’s seeing on my CD, however he wants to just go in surgically and if he sees what he thinks he sees he will fix it, however if it turns out he was wrong then he’ll simply come out without doing anything. WTH!
As you can imagine, these two months let alone the last six months was a period of emotional, mental, and physical ups and downs, with mass confusion between doctors and surgeons. I finally found the surgeon that I felt most at peace with who indicated that I have two hernias but the problem was that one of the hernias wasn’t a typical hernia. He indicated that the OB had not patched up all my abdominal layers during the C-section causing a gap between layers, and my bowel was sticking out through that gap. Hence the severe sharp pain in that area! He also indicated that I had a severe case of Diastasis Recti (otherwise called ab separation). He stated that it could be possible I had this before the baby or got it during the pregnancy. However, based on the way the C-section was performed, there was a strong chance my abs were also affected by it hence explaining the pain in my entire abdominal area.
I asked the surgeon what does this mean? He explained that though this is not a life-threatening situation right now, it very well could turn into one of the bowel got blocked and that the only way to fix this was surgery. I really did not feel that I was ready for more surgery at that point and asked him to give me 4–6 weeks and told him I was going to look into natural treatments. However if by 6 weeks I am still the same, I will schedule the surgery. He grudgingly agreed to my idea.
After researching and looking up things every second of the day for the next couple of weeks, I thought I was on to something. I spent the next six weeks trying very specialized yoga therapy for Diastasis Recti, took Chinese Traditional Medicine called Hernicare in hopes that it will cure my hernias, and started some energy healing therapy called Reiki. I also found a Homeopathic doctor in the area that sent me natural remedies to help with scar tissue and healing.
Lo and behold I was genuinely starting to feel better day by day, and when I went back in six weeks I asked for another CT scan. The surgeon did not even want to make an appointment with me to let me know the results. His assistant simply called me and indicated in a matter of fact tone that the larger of my hernias was 25cm previously and now it was 5cm. She asked if I still wanted the surgery, to which I responded a resounding Heck No!
So through the course of the next couple months, my hernias and incision pain was getting better however I was still having a lot of pain around my abdomen and back. I spent the next few months looking into other kinds of natural therapies and treatments. I tried Bowen Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, and still continued with the Hernicare, homeopathic remedies, and Reiki as well.
I finally found a wonderful holistic and functional Chiropractor that specializes in using a Cold Laser. This was truly a miracle doctor. He was the only doctor that was able to read my CT scan images correctly and told me everything that was going on and how to fix them. Apparently, I had a Diastasis Recti of 6 fingers width apart (the norm is 1–1.5); I had two hernias, a long incision, a mass amount scar tissue, and on top of that an old hip injury hairline fracture which I didn’t even realize I had!
He used his laser technique and mild stretches and exercises for the next few months and it helped me tremendously. I seemed to finally be on the path to recovery. This seemed to go well until I suddenly started taking ten steps backward at random times without any excessive exercise or movements on my part. I also still couldn’t hold my baby (who was already a year old by now) standing up!
I hit my panic point one day when my Chiro told me that maybe I should look into ab repair surgery to try and fix the lingering residual issues. That was it for me. I felt like I hit rock bottom emotionally after spending the past year trying to heal myself naturally, I just could not fathom the thought of surgery or even venturing into a doctor’s office again.
I went back to researching everything I could find on the web for the next two weeks and found a program called The Tummy Team. Eight week program to heal and rehabilitate your core it read. I told my Chiro that I wanted to try this program for eight weeks and if that didn’t work, then I’ll allow myself to look into surgery again. I could tell he did not have much hope but he knew I was a strong advocate for myself and what I believe my mind, body, and soul can do for itself, so I gave it a shot!
This program worked miracles for me. Every week not only did I feel progress, but I was able to have my Chiro validate my progress by seeing the results. Little by little my Diastasis Recti was closing up and my connective tissue between the abdominal muscles was getting stronger. By the end of the eight weeks, my abs were back to a normal separation of 1.5 fingers and my connective tissue was very strong!
I am now about twenty months postpartum and I can safely say that I cured a double hernia, massive Diastasis Recti, gaps between my abdominal layers with organs sticking out of it, an extremely long incision with a massive amount of scar tissue buildup all naturally and no invasive techniques or surgery involved!
I do have some lingering psoas muscle tightness on one side from the old hip injury, however, I can finally hold my baby without pain for a longer period of time.
My hope and wish is for this to be seen and heard by all the moms out there and anyone else as a call for you to advocate for yourself especially when it comes to doctors. Do not simply take their word for it just because they have a lab coat on. If you do not understand something, ask questions and speak up. Ask for alternatives or ask for time so you can do your own research and find alternatives yourself. When you find natural cures or treatments that would otherwise involve surgery or invasive treatments, or unnecessary medications, doctors may not be too happy with you. They are losing money. There is only one answer to those doctors. God help them and move on.
Your body and your mind can heal itself and YOU have the power to defeat the odds! Thank you for listening to my birth story.