How I stopped peeing on myself: 7 steps I took to restore my body and heal stress incontinence after multiple pregnancies

peeing on yourself after pregnancy

Once upon a time, I had three children in three years. Each pregnancy was more painful than the last, until the third, when I ended up with pubic symphysis, separation of the pubic bones.

Yes, it’s painful.

By my third child’s first birthday, I also had developed diastasis recti, and had a severe pain in my abdominal muscles when I moved certain ways, or carried heavy objects--including my children. I didn’t carry my children a whole lot. That’s painful to write. I had an umbilical hernia, and was plagued with what every woman who seems to have had children is plagued with--stress incontinence.

I peed on myself a lot.

And it all sucked--all of it. I was tired, achy, and in pain. Couldn’t move the way I wanted to. And just in general was exhausted. One can attribute a good deal of the exhaustion to three small children and not sleeping through the night, but by December of last year, I knew I needed to figure out how to get better.

I’ve done scads of online reading, tried and rejected multiple exercise problems, and seen a handful of medical professionals, and--I don’t pee on myself anymore.

That’s worth repeating (and shouting from the rooftops, writing in the sky, etc.):

I NO LONGER HAVE STRESS INCONTINENCE.

Here’s what’s worked for me:

1. Baths

I started taking baths in the evening as a way to prioritize my health and be purposeful about making the changes I needed to. They were relaxing before bedtime, helping me get to bed on time instead of way too late, and they soothed my tired or aching muscles. I’ve become a huge fan! 

2. Physical therapist

I started seeing a physical therapist at the end of December. I did, probably, 6 sessions. It ended up not working out: I had to travel an hour for each session, the sessions were $80/pop, and in the end the office was charging me $150 in fees, and I just called it quits. But…

3. They prescribed, among other things, walking for 20/minutes a day

It hurt so bad at first. I was hobbling by the end of each walk (I probably spent those twenty minutes just going around the block), and taking a hot bath and then sitting on an ice pack. So painful. But I kept at it, and now, I can walk for thirty minutes or an hour like it ain’t no thang, and where I was probably walking not even a quarter of a mile in 20 minutes, now I’m walking a mile in fifteen minutes. AND I’M NOT IN PAIN AFTERWARDS!!!

4. Peggy Brill

This has been my favorite discovery to date. I’ve done a lot--a lot--of research on the pelvic floor and women’s problems. Kegels ain’t cutting it, my friends. Peggy is a physical therapist who wrote this amazing book. It is filled with amazing stories of women who were in pain, and who are now pain free. I literally cried over some of the stories--pain is no joke, my friends, and Peggy was offering hope! The exercises seemed absurdly simple, but I was faithful and--WOW. What a difference. I immediately felt better, my core felt stronger--I can pick my children up without hurting now. That almost makes me want to cry.

5. Katy Says

In all my pelvic floor research, I stumbled upon Katy Bowman. Man, this woman knows her stuff. I’m just diving in. I purchased her Diastasis Recti book (Peggy’s book doesn’t focus on DR super specifically, and I wanted something that did) and am getting ready to purchase a DVD. Her outlook is much, much, MUCH more lifestyle--it’s definitely not a fifteen minute a day kind of thing! It’s an incredible look at the human body, however--I finally feel like I’m getting answers nobody was ever able to give me!

6. Special note:

When I asked about my situation, Katy recommended working my way through the alignment snacks--she said she filmed them 10 weeks post partum, and they’re an excellent place to start. Her DR book has a series of exercises, but I found them a little difficult to wrap my head around--watching a video is much more helpful!

7. Diet change

I should also mention diet. Sugar and grains seem to be the root of so many evils. I could write a whole post about all of this, but I’ll try to keep it brief. I wanted to do a Whole 30 in January, but what I realized was that giving up everything at once felt too much like deprivation, and I was rebelling against that. It’s such a mind game. Instead of a Whole 30, I gave up added sugar and all grains for the month of January. It was amazing. I dropped a whole bunch of weight (still don’t have a scale, so I have no idea how much, but I went down two clothing sizes and my face looks like my face again) and just felt good--I had energy, and didn’t experience that 4pm sugar crash. I still haven’t been able to get totally back on the no sugar no grains train, but I’ve made that more of a lifestyle than not--and I feel soooo much better.

Friends, I need your help! Will you share this via Facebook or Pinterest or messenger pigeon? I feel like there are a lot of women, like me, who need to know incontinence and pain don't have to be their reality after childbirth! I KNOW I would've loved this post four years ago...help me share it with a woman who needs to hear it TODAY! Thank you!!  

*affiliate links used--thanks for helping me keep the lights on! 

Is peeing while sneezing or laughing normal after pregnancy? By the end of my third pregnancy, I had diastasis recti, an umbilical hernia, and stress incontinence, and couldn't even walk without pain...

Hey Christians, Your Encouragement Isn't Helping

(Scroll to the end for the video.)

Oh, friends.

I've been a Christian now for over twenty years, and I think it's time I share something that's been weighing on me for several years now. 

I am weary to death of encouragement that gives us the warm fuzzies at church on Sunday, and ends there. We sing in varying degrees of passion according to how the message spoke to us, and then the doors are thrown open and the people stream out, into their cars, on to lunch and naps and chores and soul crushing marital dysfunctions and sex addictions and alcoholism and anxiety and depression and doubt and mind-boggling consumerism and food disorders and on and on and on.

We've got real problems, and no solutions

When did encouragement become soft and weak? When did we redefine it to include a Facebook post or a polite, “how are you?” or a pat on the back?

We like to paint Jesus as an encourager. Soft, gentle. Humble. But. I can’t find a place in the gospels where Jesus sang a song to someone. Or gave someone a side hug and said, “glad you made it to our women’s luncheon.” Or cupped the face of an adulterer or prostitute or reprobate in his hands and said kindly, “I love you, just the way you are.”

Please stop encouraging me!

We've forgotten what "encourage" really means

Never.

Jesus looked at the woman, maybe undressed, certainly terrified and helpless before a crowd with murder in its heart; he looked at a woman he shouldn’t have been talking to at a well on a scorching hot day; he looked at a puny, despicable man clinging to the branches of a tree like a child; whether these people knew they were at the end of their ropes or not, Jesus did, and he looked at them like he knew them and with his words he said,“I know where you’ve been. I know what you need. Would you like a way out?”

If you google “encourage,” you’ll find the word means to give support, confidence, or hope. If you keep scrolling, you’ll see it comes from two French words that mean “in” and “courage.”

At it’s root, encouragement is about courage. There’s something really lion-hearted about true encouragement, and we’ve completely lost sight of that.

Real encouragement gets its hands dirty

Real, actual encouragement is not just sunshine and pretty bows and it’s not always “positive.” It's giving a priceless gift to a person. It's what you're doing when you see a friend headed towards destruction, and you grab her face in your hands and say, “YOUR CHOICES ARE KILLING THE WOMAN I LOVE.”

A life of talking without the actions to back it up holds no water--American Christianity has done a lot of been there, done that. But not talking at all is another ship that can’t float. St. Francis of Assisi said famously, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve chosen to shut up, only to realize later how necessary the words were.

It says, let's get you out of here

In a world that’s desperate for healing and hope, let’s stop hiding behind platitudes and smiles and encouraging Facebook posts and Instagram tags. Let’s look at our brothers and friends and coworkers and strangers and inlaws and Instagram friends, and with all the empathy and compassion and hope and humility a bunch of sinners saved by grace can muster, let’s say, “I know where you’ve been. I know what you need. Let’s get you out of here.”

I've turned the comments off on this post, but I want to hear what you have to say. Have you encountered real encouragement lately? What did it look like? Find me on Instagram or Facebook and let's chat! 
 

A life of talking without the actions to back it up holds no water--American Christianity has done a lot of been there, done that. But not talking at all is another ship that can’t float. St. Francis of Assisi said famously, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve chosen to shut up, only to realize later how necessary the words were.

The Perils of Hair Removal

The perils of hair removal

Linking up here

1. Yesterday, I bought three things at Walmart: band aids, some kind of spray on hair removal product, and Sally Hansen wax strips, "perfect for hair or body!" The women on the boxes were as hairless as newborn babes--which is a silly thing for me to say, as all three of my children were born with a lot of hair. One of my children actually had hairy, wolf-like ears. I will spare that child's name.

2. I brought the miracle-touting hair removal products home, and stood them on my bathroom counter. Having repeated this same beginning-of-summer ritual for countless summers now, I have every confidence that this spot will be their final resting place. It's different brands and new packaging every summer, but one of the things that happens as you approach middle age, is that you begin to realize there is actually no miracle cure for unwanted bikini line hair, and it's really all just lies, and these products will sit, untouched, by my bathroom sink until summer is over and I can go back to growing a jungle in the comfort of my sweatpants. 

3. Maybe hair removal hasn't caused you the inner turmoil and high drugstore bills it has caused me? Let me explain.

I have very dark, thick hair which I'd like to blame on my Hispanic genes, but in an ironic turn of fate, I owe it to my German ancestors. Thank you, Germans. I don't know who (to whom?) I owe my light skin to, but dark, thick hair and light skin are an evil combination. 

4. When I was eleven, my mother signed me up for swim team. Why, mom? Why? Why not softball? Or soccer? Soccer players and softball players wear lots of gloriously loose fitting clothes, and certainly don't have to wear swimsuits cut to their hips--swimsuits clearly designed by misogynists intent on the utter humiliation of eleven year old girls who can't get their razor burn under control. Dear Lord. The things that put us in counseling...

5. When it boils down to it, really the only thing that works is waxing. The legit, professional kind of waxing. The kind where you toss back a glass of wine and spread your legs on a small, shaky table, while someone salts down your hoo haw with baby powder and later will ask you to get on all fours. And then they pull out your hairs. All of them. My friend likens it to ripping out tree roots from your vagina, and I feel like that's very accurate. 

6. The last time I got a brazilian, I was 24 and unmarried, and definitely had never born a child. Every so often, I marvel at the memory of my hairless self, and am tempted to grow things out exactly 1/4" and make an appointment. But then I remember the pain, and I compare it to the pain of unmedicated childbirth, and I think about how good my vagina has been to me in the last five years, and--I just can't put her through that. It just wouldn't be fair to either of us. 

7. And so, I wear swim skirts. Or swim shorts. And pray to God the wind doesn't blow my skirt up, and that there are no hairs peeking out at awkward times. 

(I didn't say it was pretty! Now, go read Kelly's SQT--I agree with exactly all of them.)

 

The Perils of Hair Removal, in Seven Quick Takes