The amazing Amanda Cox, Caliana (5) and Vincent (3).
Amanda's first pregnancy was lost to an early miscarriage which was devastating for her. They had been able to conceive very quickly with that pregnancy but when they tried again it took a very long time. Amanda scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist which amazingly, ended up being a confirmation of Caliana's pregnancy. Both of Amanda's children were born via scheduled cesarean. Her daughter's delivery went smoothly with no complications but her son's birth 18 months later was drastically different. Because of complications from her repeat cesarean, Amanda suffers from chronic pain that effects all aspects of her life. She is unable to work due to the continuous pain and is now a single parent. Her former husband had a difficult time adjusting to the changes that were brought by her chronic pelvic and abdominal pain.
Amanda recalls that she began feeling pain during her son's delivery as they were removing him from her uterus. The pain only increased as they tried over and over to repair her uterus. It kept tearing every time they stitched it back together. After some time, the delivering doctors believed everything was stable and returned her to her room to be reunited with her newborn. Amanda was in such intense pain that high doses of pain medication were not even taking the edge off but she was told it was due to her having babies so close together. After a few days, Amanda was discharged and her recovery seemed to be slowly progressing until 10 days later when she spiked a fever and shook with unbearable pain. She was re-hospitalized with a postpartum uterine and bladder infection. A CT scan showed some fluid, but nothing out of ordinary at her stage of recovery. She was prescribed very strong antibiotics and after 10 days of fighting to breastfeed, had to quit to focus on her healing.
Amanda tried to get back to her new normal after that, but the pain continued. When she started menstruating she was unable to move from bed with out assistance from her husband. She couldn't even get to the restroom alone, let alone take care of her two young children. She fought for answers from the delivering doctor but her pain was only blamed on postpartum depression. She was frustrated and cried because of the pain which only led to her feeling more depressed. Over the next few months, Amanda went to a pain specialist, pelvic floor physical therapist, a new OB/GYN and her family physician. Nobody could explain her debilitating pain and nobody wanted to look further. Unwilling to give up, Amanda fought her way to a referral to the Mayo Clinic when Vincent was six months old. The gynecological surgeon who accepted her case, performed an exploratory laparoscopy and found that her uterus was still open. There was a wound that wasn't sewn back together during the delivery and had adhered to her abdominal wall. Every time she menstruated, blood would spill out of her uterus into the surrounding tissue. He fixed it and clipped her Fallopian tubes because it was deemed unsafe for her to have anymore children.
Amanda thought the surgery was the miracle she had been searching for, but the pain continued. Her doctor's at Mayo dismissed her continued pain as something she would need to live with. Amazingly, Amanda was still willing to fight for herself and found a pelvic pain group at Loyola University. She reached out and was seen within three days of sending an appointment request. The doctors were amazing and willing to try different treatment ideas for a few months until she made the decision to have a hysterectomy. Ten months after her son's birth, Amanda underwent a total laparoscopic hysterectomy in Chicago, 7 hours away from her babies. The surgeon was shocked when she found another hole in her uterus near her bladder.
Unfortunately, recovery has been difficult and as a result of all of the tissue damage, Amanda still has debilitating chronic pain 3 years later and is still fighting for adequate pain control. In 2014, she spent a month at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago's pain program trying to regain her life back. She has come so far since then in her quest to be the best mother she can be, despite her pain. She continues to work with her extended health team and has physical therapy twice a week. After not being able to parent how she'd like her kids are finally home with her during the day. Amanda says, "My home may not be super clean or the laundry ever fully done, but I'm making it work with two amazing kids! I'm not able to work outside the home due to my pain, so I don't have an income. It's been a constant battle to get financial assistance by proving my pain is real. My marriage deteriorated through this time and it's been so difficult. But I am here! My kids are happy! And I feel stronger than ever because I know now that I can get through anything!"