For the 20th time since the Boychick was born, my uterus sheds its endometrial lining. For the 20th time since the Boychick was born, it all slides down my vagina, falls between my lips, is absorbed by the cloth between my legs. I’ve talked about that before.
Here’s what I don’t talk about: all month, all cycle, I am falling out, falling down. My rectum falls forward, my bladder back. My uterus to the left, cervix perforce to the right (deduction rather is vice versa: os is found to the right, therefore uterus must be falling left).
It’s not something that bothers me — except when it does. It’s not something I talk about — except now I am.
The technical terms sound sweet, seem sinister: rectocele, cystocele. This one doesn’t even sound pretty with my eyes closed: uterine prolapse.
Well, prolapse, maybe. Pro-laps. Doesn’t sound too bad, if I don’t think too hard.
A fact: the suffixes -rrhoid and -rrhage both mean the same thing. And yet hemorrhoid and hemorrhage? Not so much. Go figure.
I have the ‘rrhoids, too.
True story (no really, this is relevant): when I was 12 years old, I went on a rickety old wooden roller coaster, was lifted out of my seat, and slammed back down. I’ve had low back and sacrum problems ever since. It’s also probably why my coccyx is, itself, fallen — in, forward, to the right. And that one hurts.
How these are connected: every. single. time I talk to anyone about my coccyx pain (chiropractors, doctors, massage therapists, cis women with similar issues), the answer is a variation on this: “Have you considered internal coccygeal adjustments?” “Maybe you should see a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic muscles.” “I know an acupuncturist who does vaginal treatments.” Every. Time. If I mention the rectocele as well? They redouble their recommendations. (Silly ideas about anatomy, and connection of internal organs. Pfft.)
Everyone, it seems, wants their hands — or their needles, and as much as I love acupuncture I’m trying not to think about that one — in my pussy.
OK, so it’s a nice pussy. I don’t really blame them.
But pardon me if I’m also disinclined to allow them.
I went to a midwife who knew the uselessness of vaginal exams in pregnancy, knew how rarely they were indicated in labor. The only time in the last five years fingers other than mine or my lover’s (or, as they were sliding out in birth, my child’s) have touched my vagina were after birth, examining for tears (I had none). That is as it should be, it seems to me. Too quick are OB/GYNs to poke us, prod us. Too often “medical need” is code for “physician habit” and becomes client’s trauma. I know this, and so I am wary of exams, wary of allowing unnecessary violation of my bodily integrity.
But, might there not be necessary non-violations? Or, even desirable, beneficial, honoring touches?
I’m sure there must be. I am told — by women I trust, women who trust their bodies — that there are.
Still, I resist.
And I hurt.
And I still resist.
And I still hurt.
I don’t like talking about pelvic organ prolapse. Inevitably, it seems, someone is going to blame my weight, my big baby (10lb 6oz, and no I wasn’t diabetic, thank you very much), my homebirth, is going to say I simply need surgery. From the other side will come pronouncements that I’m Doing It All Wrong — I’m not eating right, sitting right, standing right, breathing right. (And that I might even believe, because the mostly-sedentary American life I live is entirely unnatural and unhealthy on the human body, especially those of us with cis female anatomies.)
From any side might come fatalism, a proclamation of the profound brokenness of my body. But I don’t feel broken (except my tailbone, sometimes); I don’t want to feel broken. I don’t want to be warned off having another baby (eventually! not now!); I don’t want to be told I am too far gone to be helpable, fixable. I am, in short, afraid — afraid I will be told I am broken, afraid that I will discover it to be true.
My brain’s a little whacked too.
But if I am ever going to do anything that has a prayer of helping (have I mentioned the coccyx pain? Truly, it is a pain in my ass), I have to be able to talk about it. And so I am.
Today, it all falls down: my uterine lining, for the 20th time since the Boychick’s birth. My pelvic organs, constantly, always, starting well before his birth. My walls and defenses and impenetrable, impossible silences: now, and forever more.