15 Years Post Delivery - My Personal Inner/Outer Core Journey to an Emotional and Physical Reconnection
When I was 31 weeks pregnant with my triplets, I had a big scare that caused a dramatic inner core/outer core disconnect for me. One of my baby’s amniotic sacs broke and I was rushed to the ER and immediately prepped for an emergency delivery of the triplets. This was a very scary scenario; we knew that an emergency delivery could land all three babies on ventilators and at risk of cerebral palsy and/or eye deformities. But then our brilliant UCLA obstetrician Dr. Tabsh offered another option: he said that if I could simply STAY STILL, the baby’s amniotic sac could regenerate fluid and I might be able to carry the triplets safely to term. Dr. Tabsh explained that every 1 day immobilized on bed rest could equal 3 fewer days per child in the NICU. And with the cost of NICU at $30K per child per day, I was doubly motivated to limit the newborns’ stay in the NICU.
So of course I agreed to stay still. Dr. Tabsh admitted me to the hospital and for the next three weeks I stayed absolutely still － no sitting up, no getting out of bed, no washing my hair, no showers －just still, watching endless DVDs provided daily by my husband. I made it to 33½ weeks gestation, 4 days beyond the average triplet gestation period. When the babies came out, the nurses declared them healthy “feeders and growers,” which meant they could successfully be fed by nose tubes until they could breastfeed.
That was fifteen years ago, and the triplets are happy, healthy, athletic kids. Earlier this year, I attended a yoga teacher training course taught by Mary Bond at The Yoga House in Pasadena. During a group breathing exercise, I noticed something odd: I was afraid to breathe into the lower left side of my abdomen. I thought back to my pregnancy with the triplets, and remembered that they were arranged in a pyramid formation in my uterus, and that the baby in distress was positioned on the lower left side. Right where I couldn’t breathe. The entire yoga class took notice, and my yoga partner diagnosed the problem. She said, “Your root chakra on the lower left side is blocked.”
“Huh? My what?”
She explained that the root chakra is the deepest of the 7 energy centers in the body, and to access it you must breathe deeply into your pelvic floor. Though I could do it on the right side, access was denied on my left. When I placed both hands on my lower abdominal wall, I could distinctly feel that my right hand rose higher, faster, more efficiently and in a more coordinated way than my left hand. It was like I was subconsciously still trying to prevent sudden death of the ruptured triplet membrane by avoiding all breath into the lower left quadrant area. My mind-body connection was off. I had adopted - and sustained, for 15 years - a movement strategy that kept that area still so my baby’s sac would not tear further, so he would stay alive, so all three babies would be safe. The trauma of years past was very much still within me.
As an experienced pelvic floor therapist of 30 plus years, I knew exactly what to do. I understood that I needed my inner core and outer core to connect, and I knew that a psychotherapy treatment called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) could do the job. I went straight to my friend Stephanie Baron, an EMDR-certified therapist. She guided me in four EMDR sessions. As I held vibrating blinky sensors in my hands, she provided me with behavioral retraining and positive reassurance that I was safe, that there was no longer a life in danger in my uterus.
I healed. I began to access that deeper breath and achieve a deeper pelvic floor contraction - one that allowed deep and superficial layers to contract with greater intensity. I was able to prevent prolapse and maintain better strength. I walked taller and I ran faster because I wasn’t worried about breathing too heavy or too hard anymore.
I tell this story because it shines a light on the issues that arise during pregnancy, particularly with one like mine. When the pelvic floor is weakened, and your body must adjust to a new circumstance in order to avoid a life-or-death situation, that trauma can become a part of your body that stays long after the actual circumstance has passed. I have been treating pelvic floor disorders throughout my career in physical therapy, and I advocate for a connection of the inner core and outer core. Sometimes, that connection needs the assistance of cognitive therapy, as I found with EMDR.
If you are suffering from pelvic floor disorders as a result of pregnancy, please talk with me and let’s arrive at a treatment plan that will help you achieve the balance of inner core and outer core connection.
Feel free to leave comments, and share your story, below.