The Vagina Saga never ends. Prepare for another overshare.
A few days ago I finally had a follow-up appointment with a specialist to make sure my ravaged pelvic muscles had healed themselves adequately after the giant watermelon child broke them. They call it an endo-anal scan which is just as much fun as it sounds. As soon as I got there, all the nurses gushed over Tom (who was loving it, the flirt) and I was shoved into a change room, told to strip off my clothes and put on a backless hospital gown. Afterwards, I proceeded to wander down the day surgery hallways with my arse hanging out. It was the best.
I walked into the waiting room and sat with 4 or 5 other women, all waiting to have various procedures done. They all cooed over Tom from their chairs, too scared to move closer in case their gowns fell open and revealed lady gardens and the like. There’s something unnerving about sitting in a room where everyone is going commando. It was like we all realised it at the same time. An uncomfortable silence ensued.
They called me into the “endoscopy room.” The nurse wheeled Tom in his pram to the corner “to get the best view.” So that was weird. The room was set up with a bed, a screen and a rather large looking probe that made me look twice – HOW FAR ARE THEY GONNA SHOVE IT IN?! I felt sick. I met the specialist, who I remembered from the day Tom was born. He was the one who told me “don’t worry you’ll be stitched up real good, your husband will be very happy” and “no rumpy-pumpy for 4 to 6 weeks afterwards.” Happy memories. By all accounts a very nice man, just bizarrely inappropriate. He was there with his registrar and a medical student. Because everyone likes an audience when getting a giant wand shoved up their bum.
“What kind of tear did you have, 3rd or 4th degree?” he asked me. Uh… I’m sorry Doctor, but shouldn’t you kind of know that already? I answered with 3rd degree. “3b, 3c…?” He continued to ask me. Um… I haven’t a fucking clue, there are different types of 3rd degree tears? “Did you have an episiotomy?” Again… Kind of thought you’d know that. No Doc. Just good old fashioned “natural” ripping open of the vagina.
“How do the muscles feel? Nice and tight? Any problems with urinary continence? What about pooing, can you do that okay? Any issues with flatulence or holding things in? No? Excellent.” All questions he had to ask and I gladly denied any issues. Everything is in good working order. Then it came time for the probe. I had to lie on my side with my knees to my chest and expose my bum, ready for the giant wand to be shoved up there. All while my baby stared at me from his pram, looking bemused. I stared back at him, thankful he’ll never remember this. And also storing the memory away to tell at his 21st.
As they were getting things ready I had a brief feeling of panic, worried that maybe something would be wrong. Right after I gave birth and was stitched up there were multiple nurses and doctors who told me I’d have to have a caesarean next time I had a baby, as the “muscle memory” would probably cause me to tear again. While of course a caesarean wouldn’t be the end of the world, (and I’ve even joked about wanting that the next time), it’s a bit different when the choice is taken away from you. All of the emotions of my birth experience came back and momentarily I felt raw and overwhelmed, scared that something would be wrong. Even though I’d practiced my pelvic floor exercises everyday since Tom was born, I feared I’d be wearing adult diapers way too early in life. And ain’t nobody got time for that.
So, the probe went in and up and I got a running commentary on how my pelvic muscles are in “tip-top condition” and are perfectly repaired. I sighed with relief. I’m not likely to wet or shit myself anytime in the near future; and I’d be fine to push out another baby should I ever feel the need. TAKE THAT SCAREMONGERS! Then the doctor asked me “So what about, you know, S-E-X?”
Yes. He spelt it out. I just looked at him.
For the sake of my family, who read this blog religiously, I won’t bother going into details about my sex life. However I did inform the doctor that I can still feel my scar at times and wondered if that was normal? Instead of answering me, he and his registrar decided to have a look at my vagina. Because enough people haven’t already seen it. They lifted the sheet and the two men had a conversation over my lady bits, getting a nice good look. “Oh it is still quite granulated, isn’t it?” (That’s doctor speak for not fully healed yet.) “When was this done? 6, 8 weeks ago?”
Um seriously? Why doesn’t the doctor know when this happened? This is a classic case of doctors not reading notes before seeing their patients! And the patient is required to repeat themselves over and over, because nobody reads anything that anyone else wrote. This is one of my main gripes as a nurse and now also as a patient. But anyway, I digress.
“No, it has been about 15 weeks.” I replied.
“Oh, you definitely need someone to take another look at it. I’ll refer you back to the hospital.” Wonderful. My vagina is a spectacle.
He then proceeded to say “Don’t worry, I think it will heal. You can keep having sex. Just use lots of lube. Like LOTS of lube. You need to just fill it with lube. So much lube that your husband can’t even feel it.” He then chuckled as he pulled the sheet back down, covering me up and then proceeded to PAT ME ON THE HEAD and said “All the best, Mrs Quilty” and left.
Now I didn’t have a mirror, but I’m pretty sure my face looked something like this.
I looked back at my son who giggled at me and I was decidedly glad that he couldn’t understand the conversation that had just taken place. Maybe I won’t tell this story at his 21st. Don’t need to really, it’s on the internet forever. Sorry son.
Anyway, the reason I am sharing this story is because I bet a number of new mothers and mothers-to-be don’t ever think about this stuff until it’s too late. Case in point, ME. So I just want to normalise the things that nobody ever talks about because of embarrassment or whatever. So women who tear! You are not alone. Broken vaginas unite. And the moral of the story? DO YOUR PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES! Because if I hadn’t, then I may not be able to boast so loudly about my continence after giving birth. Hallelujah for bladder control.