A few months ago a personal trainer Jenni van den Berg, together with one of my patients who she trained, wrote a blog for me about the patient’s journey. My patients who read my blogs often comment to me how helpful it is to read others’ stories, as they can empathize and it makes them ‘not feel so alone’ with their pelvic floor problems. Well today Jenni -the trainer- is writing about her own very personal journey and I sense from its content that Jenni has quite a journey to share. I know that writing for me can be comforting; it can be inspiring; and it can be cathartic- relieving a build-up of pressure when something is really annoying me. Well my take on Jenni’s blog is that I think it maybe in that last category. I think that her journey of despair, discovery, learning and now excitement at creating her new business ‘Ziprfit’– pelvic floor safe exercise and pilates -may have begun with one belief about what her birth experience should have been, to the reality of what actually happened.
Here is her story…….
‘Sometimes we ask why’ to understand our current predicament.
‘Sometimes we ask why’ to determine whom or what was at fault for the failure.
‘Sometimes we ask why’ to be in a dream land of what it could have been if….
‘Sometimes we ask why’ to process how could this possibly be.
‘Sometimes we ask why’ in natural curiosity that helps us learn.
‘Sometimes we ask why’ to motivate ourselves in the right direction.
‘Sometimes we ask why’ to have hope for the future and what it holds.
Sometimes ‘why’ is worth chasing,
sometimes its frustrating to seek without knowing,
sometimes it buries your brain in a mission,
sometimes it just hinders finding resolution that it just is what it is.
But sometimes if you are persistent enough, a world-wide search uncovering every stone, unearths your ‘why’ and lays out a stepping stone path that has always been under your nose. This time I’m so thankful to be the woman on a mission to find out ‘why’ and I’m forever grateful to those who have answered ‘why’.
The ‘whys’ all began after the birth of my first son, who was born via forceps. I wondered ‘why’ wasn’t I given the option to have a c-section rather than the GIANT TONGS? I wondered ‘why’ I wasn’t referred to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist after such a traumatic birth…
Following the birth of my second son, I became curious to ‘why’ I sustained a massive 5 fingerwidth diastasis – you could literally touch my organs it was totally wrong. ‘Why’ did it occur? How could I heal it? What is ‘healed’ anyway? To bind or not to bind? I read far and wide to unravel the mystery of the mummy tummy…
And that search lead me to an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and finding out that I had prolapse and sustained a partial levator avulsion. I cried and cried and then cried some more. I never wanted this part of my life and I just wanted it go away. The rivers of tears made more rivers of tears and my posture sank to new lows. With tear drops falling, I was on a mission to understand ‘why’ – a new knowledge gaining obsession began.
And to be brutally honest the next few months were a bit ugly- a lot of anger, blaming and bitterness in combination with loads of reading and searching for answers on my quest to find out ‘why’.
In order to avoid further complications, Sue recommended that I follow the ‘pelvic floor first’ recommendations for exercise and those who have read the recommendations know that the modifications are extensive. For an active person, this was devastating news and at the time I definitely had a thought maybe I should just give up on exercise – but where would that leave me… worse off.
For myself and my family I needed a new approach, one that moved into the space of ‘what can I do’ rather than ‘why me’. One that focuses on rehabilitating what I can and embracing the joy of discovery of an alternative exercise paradigm where I can return to truly enjoying exercise. So for my 10 week challenge, I set myself a challenge of finding 100 exercises that I can do. Needless to say over 200 exercises were written up complete with photos, cueing and modifications…
Meanwhile, my neck and shoulders were constantly tight and one vertebrae in my back was constantly angry. Standing up tall was impossibly hard work and could only be sustained for short periods when I really focused on it. I knew my posture wasn’t perfect but being a busy mum of two, time in front of the mirror is ahhh, limited!
Still determined to beat the mummy tummy, one evening I came across an article explaining the connection between faulty posture and diastasis – this is when the penny dropped… I’d found the missing piece of the puzzle – my posture was beyond terrible and that’s why my diastasis wasn’t closing and the vertebrae in my back was literally acting like a hinge… Ok, it was time to ditch the Beyonce butt and hunchback of Notre Dame look…
Thankfully the ‘how’ was at my feet – I just needed to listen to what I teach every day in my Pilates classes .. and apply the appropriate stretching and strengthening within a ‘pelvic floor friendly’ framework.
And then oh my gosh, I can take a DEEP BREATH!!! And my neck and shoulders aren’t tight anymore and my back doesn’t hurt. This is so AMAZING 🙂
My next stepping stone revealed a deeper understanding of the team effort of the breath and alignment on pelvic floor function. With application of all that I have learnt, I feel phenomenal and I’m ready for my next challenge – sharing it with you!
Sometimes why IS really worth chasing and I’m forever grateful for all those who answer why.
Thank you Sue, Lori Forner, Jamie Singleton, Mary O’Dwyer, Marietta Mehanni and Julie Wiebe for all your wonderful work and answering all my questions.
Thanks Jenni for your blog from your heart. It must have been tough to share and bare all the emotional turmoil you were going through, but I am sure plenty of other women relate to what you have written. Now the bit at the end is not meant to be a testimonial but all those people are #pelvicmafia colleagues and are actively involved in educating women so deserve a wrap from Jenni.