Hi there! You probably guessed by the title that this post is about my birth injury. Or maybe you thought this post would actually be about me doing the stanky legg…for real. I hate to disappoint you if you thought it was the latter. Maybe some other time, friend?
Like with my birth story, I’m giving you a warning with this post. It will have details and pictures that are
probably gross, and TMI, but I’m sharing anyways! It’s my story, and I’ve been laughing through it. It’s just how I deal. So here we go.
A lot of people have been asking about my foot so I thought I’d give a few details here to clear it up for everyone. Well…clear it up as much as I can. It’s still not technically clear to me OR the doctors.
Basically, after Mae was born, and the epidural was wearing off, I realized that my right foot was completely numb. We were told that the epidural sometimes just takes a while to wear off and that what I was experiencing was normal. We were told that within 24 hours, my leg and foot would be back to normal. My gut told me that this wasn’t going to be the case for me, but I ignored that feeling and decided to just enjoy the first 24 hours with my new baby girl. I didn’t want to worry those precious first hours away.
After 24 hours had passed though, my foot was still completely numb. The right side of my leg below the knee was also numb, but the left was not. I couldn’t move my toes, or flex my foot up or down. It just sort of….hung there. The doctors and nurses were perplexed and no one had any answers. I was sent in for an MRI to make sure that the epidural had not somehow injured my spine. While I did have two disc bulges and some facet hypertrophy, there was nothing from the epidural, and nothing that would cause me to to lose the use of my right foot.
A physical therapist was sent to my room and she was absolutely no help whatsoever. She just made a bunch of confused noises and left abruptly, offering to bring some ice packs by later on, in case I had an inflamed nerve. I began to feel rather hopeless at this point. My nurse had taught me how to walk by locking my bones into place, but I had to hold onto things as I crossed the room or I couldn’t make it. I eventually requested that my doctor order me a walker. Yes…a freaking walker.
On top of my leg/foot not working, my bladder was out of commission too. I could not pee on my own. I had the urge to go, but I couldn’t get it to leave my body. And we tried everything. Grape juice with sweet-n-low in it (I’m still confused on this one?), medication, tons of water, ammonia packs under me while I was actively trying to go, sniffing nail polish remover while trying to go (again…what?), sucking on a straw while I tried to go…NOTHING WORKED. I thought maybe I was experiencing performance anxiety and that’s why I couldn’t go. But then…my family came to visit. I was feeling like I needed to go when they got there, and that sensation quickly turned into severe pain. I called my nurse and told her I needed a catheter put in ASAP. I seriously thought I was going to burst. When they got the catheter in, they drained nearly one and a half liters from my bladder. Umm..there is no way that was performance anxiety!
At this point, they decided to put a Foley catheter in and just leave it. It stayed in for 24 hours, was removed, and once again, I couldn’t go and I had to have another one placed. Damn. I was beginning to feel pretty desperate. Everyone began to verbalize what I had feared the most – that it might be related to my leg. HOLY MOLY. Please…no. I couldn’t have a catheter in for forever. This was worse than my right leg not working in my book – maybe I’m crazy, but that’s just how I felt. My nurse came in to find me crying over it one night, and assured me that all would be okay and that my bladder would “wake up” soon. I didn’t believe her.
Long story short, I ended up being sent home with that stupid thing. I find this a little hilarious (now), because right before Mae was born, I informed my friend Amanda that getting the Foley catheter was one of my favorite parts of labor! You spend nine months peeing all the time, and finally get a break from it. Needless to say, I ate my words, and I am not a fan of the Foley anymore! Haha.
I had it in for a week. I deal with things by being stupid and cracking jokes. So to cope with this awful contraption, I nicknamed it my postpartum penis and my pee purse and tried to make light of it.
And speaking of laughing about my situation, Benji also started singing this to me anytime I’d hobble somewhere:
LOL!!! God, I love him.
Okay…back to the pee purse. Being in public with it was absolutely humiliating. I felt like I had mastered walking around with my stanky leg, but since I was always carrying a bag of my pee around, I felt tied to my walker. I had to have something to hang the bag on that kept it below my waist line (to prevent urine from going backing up into my bladder once it was in the bag). Seriously…it was awful and people treated me like I was so so fragile and incapable. The NICU nurses were the worst about looking at me with that pity look, and one even hinted to not letting Mae go home until I didn’t have the catheter in anymore.
On top of all that, I couldn’t take a bath with it in – I had to shower. As you can imagine, that’s a little difficult when you can’t use one of your legs properly. And…dude…when things fall apart around me, I just want to hop into the bathtub and SOAK sometimes. It sucked not being able to do that. I also couldn’t wear pants while I had it in. I had to wear a dress, and you could see the tube (aka postpartum penis) coming out from underneath my dress, and from my nether regions. People stared and it was annoying.
Yep. That’s my pee…in the pee purse. Isn’t it beautiful?
After being at home with that thing for a week, I finally got the chance to try peeing again. I went in to my OB’s office expecting to be sent home with another catheter. I had actually even asked JLo before going in to teach me how to self cath if I couldn’t pee so I could just get rid of that nasty bag. I got there early in the morning and had that “I’m about to burst” sensation. I sat down, prayed, and then…peed. I PEED!!!! I’ve never prayed over my peeing efforts before, but I definitely give God the glory for being able to go – that’s a weird statement. I cried and cried and cried. It was the best feeling in the world! I tell you what…I will never take being able to pee for granted again! Haha.
Once that was all settled, I felt so much better about my leg. My friend Danielle had loaned me a brace earlier in the week to tie me over until I could get an actual AFO brace. Her brace helped me tremendously! I’ve been using it around the house, and once when we took the kids to the zoo. It helps me walk and prevents me from unknowingly spraining my ankle. It’s awesome – thank you, Danielle!! ❤
I forgot to mention that the OB that discharged me told me that what I have is called drop foot. It’s basically the result of nerve damage. So we know WHAT it is…we just don’t know why it happened unfortunately.
I found a group of moms on FB that suffered the same type of injury during their births and recovery time for all of them was anywhere from 6 weeks to a year. I’m hopeful that my foot will slowly began to heal on it’s own.
A couple of times, I’ve caught myself looking forward to the day when I’ll be all better and fully functional again. I’m trying really hard not to have that mindset though – you know…looking forward to a time when my present trouble is gone. Who knows if that day will even come for me. Mae will only be this little once, and since she’s my last baby, I’m trying so hard to be present NOW and to just enjoy her, in spite of my foot. Some days are harder than others, and I don’t always make that choice…especially with all the postpartum hormones and what not going on. Some days I have multiple pity parties over it. But I’m realizing that in some ways, this has been a blessing. When Mae was being released from the NICU, I was praying over her and I started praying that God would make this time go slower for me. That he would slow ME down, so that I could just enjoy it all. I immediately saw a picture of my foot as the words left my mouth. It was like God was saying I’m one step ahead of you, Ash (see what I did there?).
Because of this injury, I’ve had to settle into a new place that I’m not really comfortable being in – a place where I let people help me. That has probably been the hardest part because I don’t really love asking for help. But through that, I’ve found that people really and truly love us…so much. It’s kind of incredible and extremely humbling. God has been so generous towards me, and our family, through all of this.
So that’s where we are now. Hopefully within a week or two I’ll have my AFO brace. I’m also planning to see a physical therapist and neurologist to help me with my recovery. I’m excited about that and hopeful they can give me even more answers.
I’m still planning to post about the NICU stay as well as my feelings on c-section versus VBAC. My feelings on the last may surprise you, given my present situation! But more on that later 🙂