If mothers talked openly talked about these issues, we could all be more prepared.
I sneak quietly into the bathroom to avoid the interruption of my two younger children, which is inevitable once they realize I am behind a closed door. These days I can’t risk it. This is a solo mission. See, taking a shit is never glamorous. As women we are trained from an early age that this is a bodily function that we are simply not allowed to acknowledge. But here I am, sitting on the porcelain throne after pushing out four beautiful babies over a period of eight years, and the reality of this scenario is — well — it’s bad.
Strap in for the educational inservice. With loose, weakened pelvic floor muscles, I no longer have the ability to push shit out the old fashioned way. I need a little help. I bought a fancy contraption from Amazon — a Femmeze. It’s kinda like a shoe-horn but for your pussy, but it didn’t help much. (Thanks for nothing, Bezos!). So I have to use my thumb. Yup, that’s right. I have to thumb myself (from the front) in order to push the wall of my rectum that is now stretched out into my vagina back into place. Then, and only then, am I able to bear down and actually release my bowels. Splinting, I have learned, is the technical term for my wizardry.
The truth is, there are so many natural but also messed-up things about motherhood that people just don’t talk about. Mucus plugs, bloody nipples, bulging vaginal veins, and in this case, pelvic prolapse — rectocele, to be more specific.
When my OB said the word, I immediately shuttered. She had me at “recto” — no thanks! She basically told me that I could kegel my way into the next century but the only thing that will actually help, the only real cure, would be surgery. She then told me that the recovery can be pretty brutal and the success rate is not as high as she would like it to be. So, here I am, left to just deal with it.
And of course no one knows. I put my jeans on, blow dry my hair (not really, but whatever), and bring my kids to the park. Maybe while I am there someone thinks, “Oh, look at that cute mom of four cute little kids.” Really I just wanna scream at the top of my lungs: “Do you all know that my insides feel like they are falling out and I have to finger myself when I shit?!” Because sometimes the veil that we have to keep on as women — as mothers — the one that keeps us looking pretty and put together, feels really fucking suffocating.
These issues we have to keep quiet about are important. If people talked about them, we could all be more prepared. It wasn’t until after recovering from my fourth vaginal birth, when I set back out on exercise walks, that I noticed something was wrong. With each step it felt like my uterus was going to end up on the concrete. Intense pressure, pissing myself during certain exercises. Google helped me narrow it down, and my OB gave me the official confidence-enhancing diagnosis.
So today I continue my self-assisted shit sessions, modify all high-impact activities, and attempt pelvic floor exercises once in a while while I am checking Instagram. I was told that my parts would tighten up down there once I stopped nursing — something about elasticity and hormones — but I debunked that myth.
I guess it’s just the new me. A lucky, grateful, full-hearted, but slightly more self-conscious version. I will make sure to educate my daughters about all these weird, consequences of motherhood. I will warn them that Amazon cannot help, and they need a trustworthy lock on the bathroom. Mostly, I will listen, lean in, and say “This is hard, but you can do it.” Thumbs up!