For anyone who has followed my writing over the past year, you are (perhaps painfully?) aware that I am not shy about sharing some of my most embarrassing details from some of my most intimate places (In case you missed: I Have Balls of Steel or My Boobs Are Full of Surpises). However, even I am having slight heart palpitations at the very idea of sharing the following information with you, my loyal readers, but seeing as I have been neglecting you lately I have decided to pull up my big girl panties and soldier on.
I am not the type of woman who enjoys pregnancy. In fact, I am usually the first person whose eyes roll so far up in her head she winces in pain every time anyone mentions the words “miracle” or “blessing” in the same breath as pregnancy. The most miraculous thing I’ve discovered about pregnancy in my nearly three complete tours of duty as human incubator is the body’s ability to feel as though it is dying for nine months, without actually causing death.
Over the past four years (and three pregnancies) I have suffered back spasms, nausea, a low-grade fever for three months solid, trapped nerves, thrombosed hemorrhoids, yeast infected nipples, varicose veins, freakishly enlarged breasts and feet, rogue hair growth, urinary incontinence, and restless leg syndrome. If these were the symptoms of any other condition, I’m pretty sure the CDC would have me quarantined with the Ebola patients by now, but because I am simply enjoying the blessing that is carrying my third child I am simply rewarded with a swift kick to the cervix and strangers touching my ever-expanding stomach. At least Ebola kills you quickly.
As a seasoned veteran of the miracle of child-birth, I like to think that there is nothing left in the realm of the human body or imagination that could shock me, but I have recently discovered that even I am not immune to the evil genius that is pregnancy torture. I, who have been through natural childbirth twice, had my vagina torn to shreds and sewn back up, and simultaneously coughed, sneezed and vomited while enduring pitosin-induced super contractions, was caught completely off-guard the other day when I discovered that varicose veins were not limited to one’s extremities. No, the extremely attractive, worm-like veins from Hell are actually quite happy to travel to any part of one’s lower body.
For example, hemorrhoids, with which I’m fairly sure any woman who has had vaginal childbirth is more familiar than they care to be, are simply varicose veins of the rectum. I learned this fun fact after delivering my second child and discovering that my ass turned inside out every time I tried to use the bathroom. Good times. My new friend, however, is somewhat less well known. I’ve christened them vagi-rhoids and they are lovely little varicose veins that have taken up residence in my lady parts. Yes, you heard me. They are vagina hemorrhoids.
For the last couple months I’ve noticed a very uncomfortable pressure “down there” every time I sat on the toilet. I did some quick, very stealthy googling and came up with two possibilities: I was feeling the baby’s head bearing down or I was suffering from vulvar varicose veins. Since I was only five months pregnant when I started noticing the sensation, I was fairly sure it was not in fact the baby’s head crowning even though it was starting to feel very similar. Was I just carrying the baby extremely low? Turns out, I was just feeling the completely untreatable throb of my bulging vagi-rhoids reminding me that straining of any kind on the toilet, squatting, and sneezing were now entirely off-limits.
I attempted to confirm my extremely trustworthy online self-diagnosis by obtaining a visual of the veiny culprits, however once I’d assumed the highly uncomfortable position with my leg on the bathroom counter, one hand shoving my enormous baby bump out of the way, and a hand mirror shoved unceremoniously between my legs, I realized that I had absolutely no idea what my vagina looked like before. Perhaps I’d been remiss in my disinterest in looking at my once youthful, healthy, hoo ha and was now left wondering if what I was seeing was indicative of the trauma it had endured over the last few years or whether I was simply not an admirer of the female form. Suddenly penises were looking pretty attractive.
I considered calling my husband for a second opinion on whether what was going on in my nether-regions was normal or not, but in the interest of my future sex-life I decided against it. There are just some things a man should never have to see, and my veiny vagina definitely falls into that category for me. I hope he knows what a lucky man he is.
Defeated and still with a throbbing undercarriage, I untwisted myself from the bathroom counter and eventually I asked my doctor who confirmed my suspicions and delivered me the not-at-all encouraging prognosis that they would “probably” go away shortly after the baby was born. So it’s only three months or so before I should be able to sit normally again. Thanks, doc.
But I’m trying not to despair. Sure it feels like I’m giving birth every time I pee, but it’s just another thing I plan to hold over my children’s heads for the rest of their lives. I’ll be adding this to my first-born daughter’s baby book along with her birth weight, first steps, and lock of hair from her first haircut.
Pregnancy really is a beautiful, miraculous, triumph of the human body and each day is filled with untold surprises even for a hardened veteran such as myself.
What a blessing.
(This post originally ran on Outmanned.)