March 2, 2016 was one of the most frightening and confusing days of my life. During labor and delivery with my firstborn child, Noah, my peroneal nerve and sciatic nerve were severely damaged. This diagnosis took months to get from doctors, as no one initially knew what had happened to me and why I had foot drop. Being sent home with a mystery diagnosis and a newborn baby was not only terrifying, but also dangerous. I was released from the hospital without an AFO, told physical therapy wouldn’t help, and given the advice that if I just “give it some time” it will heal. After two weeks with zero improvement, my mom and husband both knew we had to take action and do something. We powered ahead with appointments and over the next six months I had an MRI, an EMG, was fitted with an AFO, and attended countless physical therapy sessions which all helped in healing my leg.
One of the most wonderful and unexpected things to occur during that time was that my mom and I had found an amazing Facebook group, Moms with Femoral/Peroneal/Sciatic Nerve Damage from Labor and Delivery. This group was full of mothers who also had nerve damage during labor and delivery and were given zero information from their medical team. We kept asking ourselves, “How can this be so common, yet the healthcare system knows nothing about it or how to prevent these injuries?” These questions sparked the fire in my mom and I to start MICA (Maternal Nerve Injury from Childbirth Awareness) Month in 2018. While MICA’s main focus is to raise awareness during the month of May, MICA also produces countless resources year-round to help mothers around the world to understand their injuries, and what can be done to prevent them. MICA’s advocacy has led to research, published articles in medical journals and an AWHONN (The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses) endorsement of protocols in the prevention of maternal nerve injury. MICA Month 2022 is our fifth year of advocacy with an emphasis this year on Maternal Mental Health and positioning as the primary cause of nerve damage. We are grateful to Allard USA and the Get Back Up Today movement for partnering with us to share the MICA message for the second straight year.
Please be sure to follow us on Facebook at Maternal Nerve Injury from Childbirth Awareness and also Instagram @micamonth. The website www.nervedamagefromchildbirth.com is packed with information and has a link to our Mom’s Facebook support group. A huge thank you to our advocacy partners for helping us to continue Standing Up for Those Who Can’t.
In my personal journey to heal from my nerve damage, I endured many dark times and moments where I never knew if I was going to get better. Now, it brings me joy to reflect back and to see how my difficulties were a catalyst for change in awareness, protocols for prevention, and recovery from nerve injury. Our primary goal when we founded MICA was to bring this issue to light, and to make sure no mother is ever in the dark again about their injury or what could be done to prevent it. While there is still much more work to do, I would say we have made amazing progress and will continue to help mothers and their families heal from the traumas they have endured.
About the author: Molly Carey is a mother of two very active children (three if you count her dog, Mila, whom she does) and has regained 95% of her strength and movement in her foot. Molly is very thankful to the MICA community for their assistance with her healing. She is about to complete her Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University and plans to pursue a Master of Social Work. Molly and her mom, Martha Tutrani, continue to share a passion to help others, and love being a mother-daughter team. If you have any questions about nerve damage from childbirth or know someone who needs help, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nervedamagefromchildbirth.com.