Hi everyone! I wasn’t sure about sharing this post because this topic might be TMI too soon considering I just started this blog and writing about it means I have to relive it in my mind. I finally decided to share my story for the same reason I started this blog, someone might be going through the same situation, and God knows how many times I googled it to see if anyone was going through the same thing, just to find some comfort.
What is a third degree perineal tear? Is a tear in the vaginal tissue, perineal skin, and perineal muscles that extends into the anal sphincter (the muscle that surrounds your anus). When you go to prenatal classes they usually explain that vaginal birth could result in a tear, but I don’t remember hearing you could tear all the way down to your anus, that’s something you would’ve remember, right?
When I was delivering my beautiful baby girl, her head got stuck in my pubic bone. I was given two options, use forceps to guide out my baby’s head or have a C-section. The doctor told me that if we used the forceps she’ll be born in 5 minutes, of course I chose the forceps, only five more minutes to hold my girl, bring it on! My baby was born right away but I ended up with a third degree perineal tear (later I learned that assisted deliveries, e.g. forceps, have a higher probability of ending in 3rd or 4th degree tears). At the moment I didn’t feel anything, THANK GOD FOR EPIDURAL, they stitched me up and we were on our room an hour later enjoying life as parents. When the anesthesia wore off I felt a lot of pain down there, but I assumed it was normal, after all I just squeezed a tiny human out of it. It was my first baby so I didn’t know what to expect and none of the nurses that were taking care of me explained the reason behind my pain, they only said it was normal. Before we got discharged, the lactation consultant noticed how miserable I was while sitting and asked me if anyone gave me a donut… mmm not sure a donut is what I need but I’ll take it (who says no to donuts). She meant a special pillow with a hole to sit on. I was like “why have I been sitting in pain all this time when I could have been sitting in this piece of heaven?”
I was really trying to enjoy motherhood but I was in SO.MUCH.PAIN, I kept thinking “it’s normal once the stitches heal it’ll all be better”, I was so wrong. One day while I was taking a shower I noticed a big blood cloth in the tub so I called my clinic and they told me to go to the emergency room. The doctor told me some of the stitches were infected, how could they get infected if I was being so careful keeping them clean? He said it had nothing to do with cleanliness, I just put too much pressure on them, I shouldn’t have been sitting, or walking too much. They had to remove all the stitches (not only the ones that were infected) right away with no anesthesia. I held my husband’s hand and prayed the whole time. When they were done I was in shock, thinking “why me?”.
They didn’t stitched me again, one doctor even said it wasn’t necessary, it would heal on its own. That didn’t sound right to me, or to my husband, so I went to see my OB/GYN. I could tell by the look on her face when she was checking me that something wasn’t right. She told me that I needed to go through perineal repair surgery to close and reconstruct my vagina. The moment she left the room I couldn’t hold it anymore and I started crying.
I went through surgery feeling guilty for not being there for my newborn who needed me 24/7. Somehow I felt all of this was my fault. My husband reassured me that wasn’t the case and took care of everything, I’m so thankful for having him in my life, I couldn’t have gone through this without his support.
After surgery everything seemed to be okay for the first couple of weeks, I was feeling positive until something started to bother me when I walked. I went to see my OB/GYN again and she said the stitches weren’t healing properly, nothing wrong with the way I was taking care of myself, just my body reacting in a strange way to the healing process. I kept getting a red skin tissue around the stitches, which had to be cauterized (my doctor used a stick that looked like a large match) and removed. Every single time I went to my post-surgery appointments, she had to take some of that red tissue out because it kept coming back, it was an in-office procedure with no anesthesia, it hurt but not as much as everything else I went through.
It took me 2 months to stop taking pain killers, 4 months for my stitches to finally heal and 6 months to stop using the donut pillow. I’m completely fine now, it’s not my intention to scare future moms, but I believe we need to prepare for every possible scenario. And for those of you who are going through the same situation, you are not alone, this is not your fault and YOU WILL HEAL, even though it’s going to take some time, you will be yourself again.