I Had Two Vaginas
Finding out a ton of stuff about your own reproductive system at 17 was jarring. I kind of felt like all I really needed to know at that point was how to take a birth control pill and track my period. AKA how NOT to get pregnant, but because of a congenital abnormality in my uterus, I stumbled upon a lot more information that I ever expected, and learned a lot about my anatomy and how my systems work.
It’s not like knowing your own body is a bad thing, quite the opposite of course, but I don’t recall really having a legitimate health class since the 9th grade. (I think once you start taking biology – in Nova Scotia anyway – they stop with the separate health classes) To me that kind of signified that it was unnecessary. That’s what doctors are for, right?
It’s become abundantly clear to me that most people really don’t consider their own bodies health unless somethings wrong, which isn’t that unreasonable, if it’s not broke don’t fix it! But so many people – men and women – have no idea what’s going on inside themselves, some for their entire lives. Most women only start to become truly aware of their system when they want to get pregnant. And so many of us have no idea of everything involved in a pregnancy until it’s literally happening in front of us.
I’ve heard horror stories of women who didn’t even know that you bleed after you’ve given birth, that sometimes stitches are needed, that you might just straight up poop while you’re trying to push that baby out. I’ve heard stories where they didn’t realize that even with a caesarian section, you will still bleed and need to wear (large) pads for a minimum of 6 weeks. You will likely start peeing a little when you sneeze… or laugh… or jump, possibly likely for the rest of your life, and there are so many more things I could list.
Before I went researching – and I mean researching – the only things I ever heard about that were negative about pregnancy were sore ankles, sore back, sore boobs, stretch marks, and the vague description and scenes from movies about women screaming at their husbands in delivery rooms. There was no poop.
I learned all this at 17, because I went slightly nuts with baby fever after I was told while high on morphine in a hospital bed (see photo from that surgery in 2011 of my great skin that I had to take a selfie of thanks to the oxygen going up my nose), that I have a higher chance of miscarriage and a lesser chance of even getting pregnant because of my double uterus. Suddenly it was a case of “want what you (maybe) can’t have.”
I’m more accepting of it now, though babies are adorable and yes, I will hold yours and no, you can’t have it back.
I kid, I kid … but what really helped me get over it was scouring through a lot of forums for moms and women with double uteruses – which there was a surprising amount of (though still rare) – and I was reassured that I will still likely get pregnant and it will likely go okay, but I may have a couple unsuccessful tries first, I likely won’t have a natural birth, and I will have to visit my doctor weekly. Reading through all this information directly from women that had been through multiple pregnancies helped me learn so much more about my own body, things I had never even thought to consider.
Learning all this at 17 is likely what lead me down a feminist path into adulthood. I was MAD. My own mother wasn’t even comfortable talking to me about this stuff! And she had three kids! Is it so embarrassing and unladylike to tell the truth about the shitty (pardon the pun) parts of pregnancy? And to be clear, this is not a jab at my mom, this is a direct jab at the societal systems in place that make women ashamed and embarrassed to talk about their own bodies and their own experiences. We need to be honest with one another and not just tell people that our pregnancy was “beautiful” and a “miracle” and not mention that now we can’t sit on the toilet without an extra cushion and an ice pack.
Being able to talk about this with other women is one side of the coin. The other side is the fact that doctors apparently aren’t telling these women what to be prepared for*, and in some cases, they are but so as not to worry the mother-to-be, they tone down just how gross and bad it can get. That helps no one. *Not ALL doctors, I’m sure some are amazing.
I’ve even read some horrible things about racists doctors who LEGITIMATELY believe that black women feel less pain, so they don’t need epidurals during labour. THAT IS INSANE. I’m no scientist or doctor, but it seems to me like we’re way behind when it comes to research on female anatomy. Women aren’t taken as seriously, so their pain isn’t taken as seriously and medical studies based on us instead of males aren’t taken as seriously, so why would the downsides of pregnancy be taken seriously or be considered something we ought to know about.
Misconceptions about the female body and romanticizing pregnancy to the point of never speaking of the downsides seem to be rampant. That’s not to say you can’t be happy, you’re creating life! From your own body! It’s an amazing feat and you should be proud and excited. But we need to be able to talk about what happens to you during this period of constant change. So much happens to our bodies (go look up how much our organs move to make way for the new human we’re growing) and pregnancy can be incredibly dangerous, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. It NEEDS to be okay to acknowledge that.
Celebrities being “brave” enough to talk about their post-partum depression shouldn’t be the norm. Mommy bloggers being your primary source for pregnancy information shouldn’t be the norm. We should be comfortable enough and it should be normal to speak to people in our lives and our doctors about how we feel, and what’s happening to us. And that statement goes for everyone, not just people looking to get pregnant.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and call out doctors for not keeping you informed because it might stress out your little female heart. We have the right to know what happens to our own body during one of the most dangerous things it can do. I’m pretty sure if we have to push so hard to get a baby out that we poop, and have to get stitches in our vaginas, and we have to sit on an ice pack for weeks, we can handle being told that it’s going to happen ahead of time, by a professional, not through second-hand information.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get a referral to get a gynecologist.