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'Life is much easier.' For mum-of-two Stephanie, lockdown has been a reprieve from chronic pain.

As many people in New South Wales look forward to increased freedoms from next week, there are others who would prefer to stay home. 

Author and mum-of-two, Stephanie Thompson, feels increasingly anxious knowing that life is about to get a lot busier. Stephanie experienced a traumatic childbirth injury in 2015 that changed her body and her life forever.

"Before we went into lockdown in July 2021, I planned my life to the letter," Stephanie told Mamamia.

"I have a pelvic organ prolapse (POP) which means that from the moment I wake up, I have about two hours pain-free before the prolapse slips down.  

"During those two hours, I usually try to do as much as I can for the household. That means preparing dinner, getting myself and the kids ready and doing the round trip required for school and pre-school drop offs."

Watch: We asked women in the Mamamia office what went through their head when they were giving birth. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

After her busy morning, the former triathlete and teacher returns home exhausted, taking time to rest before she can contemplate working.

"The pain of the prolapse is so bad that I have to lie down, or at least sit down for the day before I can find the energy to go and collect the kids by 3pm. 

"By the time we return from pickup, the kids need afternoon tea and I supervise until my husband Tom gets home from work just after 5.30pm. 

"On weekends or days where I have to add in other plans like school carnivals or birthday parties, then I need Tom to help me. I can’t physically do it without support and while Tom’s work in IT is flexible, it does put a lot of pressure on him. 

"A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is to live with an invisible disability like POP."

Listen: On this episode of This Glorious Mess - Little Kids, Leigh and Tegan discuss giving birth to premature babies. Post continues below.

During lockdown, as the family remained at home, Stephanie says their quality of life actually improved.

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"Physically it has been a reprieve for me. Without the drop offs and twisting and lifting to get the kids in and out of their car seats, I am much less symptomatic. 

"Whereas before I would need a two-hour rest in the middle of the day, I can just take 20 minutes here and there and feel okay. 

"We are lucky to have a good sized yard and we live in a cul-de-sac so the kids can play in the sandpit or on the trampoline and then see their school friends for a bike ride once homeschooling is done. 

"Life is quieter, but it is also much easier and there is no pressure to do anything or be anywhere - we are all at home and we can have everything we need delivered. Tom finishes work at 5pm and can be in the kitchen helping me serve dinner by 5.01pm. 

"I am not in as much pain and by having no daily outings and more support from Tom, it gives me that permission to sit and rest my body more often."

Stephanie with kids Elsie and Louis at home in lockdown. Image: Supplied. 

Access to her own toilet 24/7 has relieved a lot of anxiety about having to be near a public bathroom.

"Going to the toilet when out and about can be tricky.

"When the prolapse is sitting at the vaginal opening, it makes it hard to empty [your bowel] and many women have to use a technique called 'moo to poo' or 'ooo-cha' method.

"Both involve making noises nobody would feel comfortable doing in a public toilet. Not having this as something else to worry about has really relieved any pressure to try to poo before leaving the house or trying to hold on until I get home."

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Before lockdown, Stephanie said it was hard to be the one always having to say no to her kids and friends.

"Some days my pain is so bad, especially during my period, that I can barely walk from the car to the school gates. I have to get there incredibly early or drive around until I can get close enough.

"I think even friends that know me well don’t always understand how hard a regular day can be and wonder why I might say 'no' to a Saturday visit to the zoo."

Another positive side effect of lockdown for Stephanie that other families will relate to, is the lack of viruses being picked up by her little kids.

"Once school and pre-school return, I know I will have to deal with the many coughs and colds that inevitably come home. 

"What many people don’t realise is that for women already dealing with POP, a cough is terrible for our pelvic floor. Not seeing people has meant our household has been illness free for months and I have not had to worry about kids' germs adding a layer of pain and discomfort."

As 'freedom day' fast approaches, Stephanie knows she will have to get back to her old life. While she tries to remain positive for the sake of her family, she feels terrified.

"My two kids are unvaccinated and while I know the statistics are low for kids ending up in ICU with COVID, I still worry. 

"I have felt safe and secure in our bubble and it is about to burst. Everyone will forget about COVID risks really quickly and I am genuinely worried about what may or may not happen.

"Having gone through my health trauma, I am hyper vigilant and so I have all this fear that I will be that parent in ICU with my five-year-old.

"She is still so young and we don’t yet know if she has an underlying health condition. I wish we could wait a little longer to see what happens with case numbers but we are not really being given that choice."

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Pain and societal pressure aside, Stephanie says she will simply miss having her family around her during the day.

"When they go back to school, I guess I will get used to it. I had to adjust going into lockdown and it will be the same coming out.

"While I can get back to spending more time promoting my book and on my Brave Mumma support platform, the empty house will feel strange. 

"Lockdown has been good for our family and I am going to miss this period and miss the kids too."

How has lockdown been for you? Have you noticed any other benefits? Please tell us in the comments below.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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