When my friend Piper Newton told me about her new book, I was excited to read it because I wanted to learn more about her journey with POP (Pelvic Organ Prolapse). I read the book as a way to support a long time friend and to be able to better understand what her life is like. I thought it would be interesting and provide insight, but I didn’t think any of it would apply to me…after all, I didn’t have Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Except that it turns out that I do.
I don’t have severe pelvic organ prolapse like Piper and many other women like her do, but some of the changes in my body that happened after childbirth that I assumed were just normal and inevitable it turns out are prolapse related. Things that I assumed I would just always have to live with, I now have hope that I may be able to change. Hope that perhaps someday, I will be able to jump on the trampoline with the kids, to not have pain, to have some of my old body back. Hope is a pretty incredible thing!
I was honestly shocked to discover that I had prolapse, that some of the things that women joke about and whisper about or don’t talk about at all are actually due to prolapse. The point of this book, the reason that it was even written in the first place was to get women talking about this and I now see even more clearly the importance of that discussion.
Women NEED to read this book. They need to start talking about prolapse and their bodies and what changes are normal after childbirth and what changes are not healthy and need further investigation. I have gone 18 years since the birth of my oldest son just assuming that everyone who gives birth ends up having to live with some of the effects on the body forevermore. Imagine my surprise that that is simply not true.
I am planning to implement some of Piper’s suggestions, to use some of the methods that she found success with in the hopes that I can improve my symptoms. I had a liberating (albeit rather personal) discussion with her yesterday about what her book helped me to learn about myself and she pointed me to a resource page of hers that may help start me on the road to better health.
In reading And Then My Uterus Fell Out, I was so impressed by Piper’s story, her determination to get back her quality of life after the birth of her son left her body mangled and forever changed. It is a story of triumph, of refusing to accept less than a good life, of using her research and writing skills to help not only herself, but others. I encourage you, especially if you have questions about your body and health in the years following childbirth to read this book.
On that note, it is my sincere pleasure to introduce you to my friend Piper Newton and have her share a little bit of her story with you…
At thirty years old I had my first baby.
And then my uterus fell out.
Eight years later, when I was somewhat recovered from the shock and had developed a full-blown chocolate addiction, I wrote a book about it.
I actually waited all those years for someone, who was like me, to share their story. Contrary to popular belief, pelvic organ prolapse (POP), is not something that affects only women in their senior years. In fact 50% of women will develop POP in their lifetime, and over 10% will require surgery for prolapse at least once in their lifetime. That’s a lot of women! I figured one of them would write a book, eventually, that would help me feel less alone and provide some insight into what was happening to my body.
Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of women that have suffered with prolapse, but it was always shrouded in secrecy. When your uterus, bladder, and/or rectum make a bid for the bright lights through your vagina, it is not exactly a biscuits and coffee conversation. But I don’t know why this is the case. Why do we need to feel so ashamed of something we did not ask for, and did not cause?
The medical community rarely takes prolapse and its sister condition, incontinence, seriously. It is brushed off. Often with a mumbled edict to do more pelvic floor exercises or Kegels. This attitude is not helping women. In fact, it is doing a serious disservice to women.
Over the last eight years something has become very evident to me, the only way these issues are going to be taken seriously, and addressed properly, is if we start talking about them and making our voices heard.
Prolapse affects a woman in so many ways; it is physically uncomfortable and painful, it affects her ability to function to her full capacity and, for many women, it also leads to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and trauma disorders.
Prolapse is extremely hard to treat. Natural methods are difficult to navigate and learn, and surgery has high failure rates or creates new problems, often worse than the original prolapse. Prevention and risk assessment are non-existent. In fact, many doctors are knowingly using techniques that radically increase the risk of prolapse and birth trauma without the consent or knowledge of the woman.
Knowledge is so important. And the only way to increase knowledge and awareness of these issues is to start talking. To share our experiences.
Eventually, I tired of waiting and decided to write my story of becoming a mother, experiencing birth trauma, and the resulting prolapse and depression. But my story doesn’t end there, it continues as I adopted my second son from Ethiopia, learned to balance his special needs with mine, and then, found a new way to live in this body and love it despite its broken and wayward bits.
It has been a hard journey. One that felt very lonely at times, but since writing my story I have learned that so many other mothers have walked a similar journey through motherhood. Together we are starting to talk. It is my hope, that by sharing my story, I will encourage other women to come forward and share their stories. No one should ever feel alone with these issues, whether they are struggling with depression, special needs children, adoption, trauma disorders or pelvic dysfunctions.
Through my experiences I was deeply moved by the most traumatic of births that result in fistulas. A common, and extremely debilitating condition that is, sadly, all too common in the developing world. As such, I have chosen to donate a portion of my royalties to the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia. It is my hope, that through this book, I will be able to fund one complete surgery that will give a woman her life back.
An excerpt from, And Then My Uterus Fell Out.
“This experience was my first brush with the fact that I was no longer in control. Someone else had taken charge. I just didn’t realize what was coming or how drastically life would change. Can anyone really know how parenthood will affect their lives… and bodies? It is so different for every woman, every family. I have come to see motherhood like a set of pruning shears, and I am simply the tree that is being pruned and shaped by the sharp edges of motherhood. I may not like some of the cuts, and at times they were so painful, but with time I have grown fuller and more beautiful with each snip.
A brutally honest, and at times pee your pants funny, tale about one woman’s journey through motherhood with a condition that affects approximately half of all females, pelvic organ prolapse.
This moving memoir is one woman’s inspirational story about the traumatic birth of her first child and subsequent diagnosis of the chronic condition, pelvic organ prolapse. Wrapped within an engaging account of living with prolapse is an insightful glimpse into what it means to be a mother battling chronic pain, embarrassing side effects and depression in a society that often idealizes motherhood as a time of bliss and joy and dismisses this embarrassing, and often debilitating, condition.
Inspiration for her healing comes from the most unlikely of places, the heart-wrenching struggles of women in the developing world. A startlingly honest, elegant, and often humorous depiction of life with pelvic organ prolapse, And Then My Uterus Fell Out, calls out to all women around the world who suffer in silence with a life-affirming message of dignity, hope and sisterhood.
P.R. (Piper) Newton was born and raised in Canada. A one-time professional communications and public relations manager, she now spends her time raising her boys and writing stories that capture her heart, begging to be told.
To learn more, visit her at www.prnewton.com.