“Are they all yours?” Kassie hears this question a lot! She and her husband have six children - four boys and two girls - ages 10, 8, 7, 5, 3, and 1. She graduated with a degree in nursing and while she currently stays home with her family she hopes to one day go back into the nursing field as a women’s health nurse practitioner. Kassie’s family likes to hike, swim, travel, volunteer at church, and stay involved in all of the kids' various activities. That is why when she experienced a prolapse and diastasis recti after her last baby it was so difficult - she just wanted to feel good and ready to keep up with her kids! Let’s hear some more of her story.
What was different about your recovery after your sixth baby?
Three weeks after the birth of my last baby I learned I had a prolapse and diastasis recti. My symptoms included significant heaviness, night incontinence, pain in my tailbone which made it uncomfortable to sit, perineal descent, and the dreaded bulges. I had heard of another “at home program” which I started working on shortly thereafter and continued for nine months. During this time I found that some of my symptoms improved so I worked my way up to the more advanced levels in that program. I later learned that my initial improvement came at a very big physical cost.
One day near the end of the ninth month of this program I started box jumps. Immediately after completing my first set of these exercises I knew my prolapse had worsened! Along with that, I also noticed that even though I had been working so hard my stomach was oddly shaped and I still looked pregnant, which was not the case after healing from all my other pregnancies. While working on that program my DR worsened to a 4 finger gap that was soft and squishy. I was devastated to have worked so hard only to be worse off and felt lost about what I should do next.
It must have been so discouraging to have invested so much time only to make things worse! How were you feeling at this point?
I felt fear, frustration, weakness, and embarrassment. In general, I am a positive person, but the diagnosis of a prolapse combined with the terrifying stories I read online was hard to take. Since I had already tried and failed at another program I felt extremely fearful and hopeless. I was self-conscious about my diagnosis and thought people would see me as a weak person, one who would never be able to be active again.
I was afraid to do simple, everyday tasks such as taking out the garbage or carrying the groceries from the car to the kitchen. Not to mention that six kids needed me to be their mom! I still had diapers to change, a baby that wanted to be held and carried around, food to prepare, toddlers to chase, and so forth. But all of this I found petrifying because I was so scared of making things worse.
What finally motivated you to try another at home program with all of this fear?
I started thinking about my future. I thought, “I have to live this way for the next 40 years, how am I ever going to do that?” I was frustrated because I was willing and committed to doing whatever I needed to do to improve, but I just didn’t know what to do. In time I stumbled upon Sarah’s program and knew on the first day watching her videos that she would help me learn the fundamentals I needed to become symptom-free.
How are you feeling now after a year working in Sarah’s program?
If I had only one word to describe how I feel after being in Sarah’s program for one year it would be empowered! I have experienced that a weakness or setback is an opportunity to learn. I know there is no instant reset button, but I have gained confidence that I can work through these things with time and consistency. This has taken the fear out of the equation for me - I no longer fear exercise or being active with my kids. When I think about the future I am actually excited about where I could be.
That’s so encouraging! What improvements have you noticed physically over the last year?
In addition to the psychological and emotional improvements, my physical problems have reduced. My diastasis recti has gone down and the gap is no longer soft and squishy. I do not feel or notice any perineal descent and my bowels and bladder function like they did before I developed a prolapse. All of this I never thought would be possible! My prolapse has also decreased in size and I continue to see progress as I make more connections.
What are your current goals moving forward?
I celebrate all these wins, but I know I still have work to do to fix some of the patterns in my body that contributed to these postpartum injuries. I am currently working on some knee dysfunction, improving arch strength in my feet, and some remaining rounded shoulders. Another big focus is to continue to improve my overall strength - my goal is to do a pull-up by the time I turn 40!
With so many positive changes are you finding new ways to enjoy time with your family?
I am definitely living a fuller lifestyle! This past summer I did a backflip off a diving board, played basketball with my boys, swung my little girl around while playing ring-around-the-rosie, and walked around the zoo for endless hours. I was excited to wear a dress that I had stopped wearing because I looked pregnant, and I have even developed a love of exercise!