Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Lady Bits

One of the things about bearing children is all the stuff you're not really told, the things that can happen during and after pregnancy and childbirth that a woman's body has real trouble bouncing back from. I'm not talking hemorrhoids or stretch marks, I'm referring to things that most ladies aren't informed about, and therefore can be very surprising and scary and shocking when they happen.
Talking around the subject is clearly not going to get the point across so... deep breath... here's my experience, apologies in advance to any vagina-phobic folks out there.
When you deliver a child be it or through natural childbirth or a caesarean, one piece of advice that is given is the instruction not to lift anything over 20 pounds in weight. Three weeks after having my second child we had to move out of our house for some major renovation work to take place and we found an apartment close by for the duration. Naturally I did my share of lifting, didn't really think about the instruction not to, though if the advice had been given with an example along the lines of "because THIS can happen" I probably would have paid a lot more attention to what I was lifting and carrying.
At one point in the day I went to the loo to do what people do in the loo and immediately panicked because unbeknown to me something had popped out of place and now seemed to bulging out of my still-stitched-and-bleeding-from-childbirth vagina. After a frantic call to my OB and a hastily organized emergency visit to my doctor's office that same afternoon it transpired that I had a cystocele, a type of hernia where the bladder bulges through the wall of the vagina. I was told it would not go away and I should not to consider having any more children unless I wanted to end up peeing in a bag.
My OB referred me to a physical therapist who I saw the next day and continued to see three times a week for six months. Again, no explanation about what the physical therapy would entail, though maybe if I knew in advance I wouldn't have gone at all.
My beloved husband accompanied me to the first appointment and we both silently acknowledged, as we walked by, the Bush/Cheney bumper sticker on the back of the huge gas guzzling car parked outside the therapist's home, and similar silent exchanges ensued when crucifixes and Christian knickknacks showed up in the therapist's home office. The therapy was an eye-opener to say the least. In short it involved me doing pilates for an hour to build up my abdominal core while the therapist had her hand jammed up my muff holding everything in its appropriate place. Remember when I said I was still stitched and bleeding? Yeah. Still, it's not all husband's that get to see their wife being fingered by a female Christian Republican, and lucky Hubby O' Mine was witness to that treat on more than one occasion! Silver linings etc.!
The therapy worked, once my abs bounced back from being stretched out in pregnancy and my pelvic floor recovered it's elasticity the prolapse pretty much disappeared. It does pop out now and again, especially when I'm really tired, but I have enough abdominal control that I can literally suck it back in again. I'm painting a pretty picture here aren't I?
Unfortunately the happy ending isn't quite that because I've been reliably informed that once I hit menopause my pelvic muscles will lose their hard-earned elasticity and the prolapse will be much harder to maintain. The choices then are limited: a pessary, literally a medically sanctioned dildo that I put inside me to keep everything in place, and /or surgery which they don't like to do until later in life because it has to be redone every ten years or so and each successive surgery raises the likelihood of incontinence.
Oh the joy.
You might think this is a rare occurrence but since this happened to me my two dearest and closest friends both had vaginal prolapses after childbirth, though luckily theirs were not the dreaded cystocele and they recovered fabulously in time.
I think the point I'm trying to make is that when we're told not to do something it's also helpful to explain why! Obviously, if I knew a cystocele was a potential outcome from my shifting boxes three weeks after giving birth, I would have hired more movers.

Welcome To My World!

It's beyond time to take up my oft ignored blog, so here I am once again with a mission to update at least semi-regularly. Old posts, all of them more than a year old, have been deleted: this is a start-again-from-scratch situation people. Hope someone out there gets a little bit of pleasure from my solipsistic musings.