Inspiring is only one of the many qualities that this super mama possesses. I am thrilled to feature such a bright light of love and support on the motherhood scene, Erin Erenberg, for our Inspiring Mother Series. Mother of three, former attorney and founder of Totum Women, Erin is supporting women with knowledge, community and delicious lactation cookies.
On Wednesday, May 16 please join Erin, myself, clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Glantz and postpartum doula Stephanie Matthias for a Whole Woman Wellness event for the post partum mother.
Join us for an honest and open discussion on how to stay healthy and whole while welcoming a new life into yours all while meeting expecting and new mamas, munching on food from Thyme Cafe + Market, smoothies from Yumi and more! You'll walk away with a gift bag to assist your ongoing support towards motherhood. To purchase tickets, click here - we hope to meet you there!
AO: What's one thing you wish you had access to before you started a family, be it in doctors, healers, community, pain management etc.
EE: Maybe it's cheating to say a "hub of information," but really that's what I needed. I felt adrift when searching for information about everything first-time-mom that wasn't based in childcare. There are so many books on caring for your baby, and between my mom and my pediatrician, I didn't have a lot of blank space where infant health and safety were concerned. The void that left me with a lot of anxiety was around issues more personal to me as a woman. Things like: how can I prepare myself for the changes to my relationship with my partner and my friends, how can I find "mom friends" who will understand what I'm going through, how will I tackle the big question of whether/how to go back to work outside the home, and even how on Earth can I find answers to the strange things happening to my body in the first weeks after giving birth.
AO: What are you surprised that no one ever talks about that happens to your mind or body before pregnancy or after pregnancy.
EE: Let's talk about constipation. It can plague a woman during pregnancy and make that full feeling so much worse. But in my case, it made me absolutely miserable just after delivery. I'd had the birth of my dreams, bringing our first into the world without drugs, husband by my side, doctor there to make sure we were safe. But pushing was really difficult for me and left me with a massive (size of a baseball) bruise just beside my perineum. I "needed" an episiotomy to ease our son's head into the light of day. My doctor and every nurse I encountered urged me to take painkillers to stave off any pain related to the repair of my episiotomy. Little did I know that narcotics would create major constipation for me that no amount of Colase could abate.
A week into my recovery at home, post hospital, I couldn't move from a supine position without assistance. I started to feel depressed because I was so confused and couldn't properly care for our baby without a lot of pain. How could I endure the discomfort of childbirth but feel so much pain while healing? I found nothing on the topic online, or in any book. Finally, I asked my mom to look at my vagina. She saw the bruise. My husband, a veterinarian, suggested that my constipation was creating pressure on the bruise, and that was the source of my agony. It was a really sexy moment for us. To quote him, "if you were a cat, I'd run out and get you an enema." That he did. Me-ow. I did the enema myself and emerged from the bathroom 35 seconds later with a smile on my face, ready to walk miles. The anaconda I left behind in that bathroom is the stuff of legends.
Lesson learned, I skipped narcotics after both subsequent births and avoided initial postpartum constipation entirely. And by sharing my story, a number of friends have avoided this and/or known the quick treatment to abate the agony that constipation can create for a healing pelvis.
AO: If you knew then what you know now, would you change anything?
EE: Yes, I would have engaged the team of helpers that I finally found when pregnant with number three from the very beginning of my transition into motherhood. A skilled and loving physical therapist like Allison made all the difference for me in pregnancy number three. In addition to treating a vulvar varicosity in my third pregnancy (look it up; it's no fun), she introduced me to an acupuncturist, Katya Mosely, who helped me with physical issues from baby-spinning to (see above) constipation and everything in between. Most importantly, perhaps, Allison and some other health care providers outside of my OB-GYN practice made me feel like the weird things I was encountering were not uncommon but were also things I didn't have to live with forever. That had a huge positive emotional and psychological impact on me.
AO: What has been the biggest surprise post pregnancy?
EE: The good: how my love for my children absolutely split my heart wide open each time. The bad: how a marriage can quickly turn into an employment relationship if unchecked. The ugly: postpartum constipation and vulvar varicosities.
AO: How has your body amazed you on this journey?
EE: We women are ALL superheroes for creating, nourishing, birthing and protecting new life. It's astounding to me how our bodies can open and close to create children. My stomach went out to the next zip code with each baby, and then naturally and gently returned back home. My breasts, small and mighty, have provided complete and customized nutrition for three new people. That's just awesome stuff.
AO: Fill in the blank: My current self care must do/have: _______________
EE: A daily shower alone. I don't skip it.