This is Part II of my womanly saga. If you want to start at the beginning, read this first!
Part II: “My wife has peed and would like to go home now.”
On the heels of a very trying year, my hair stylist’s discovery of a random bald spot officially pushed me over the edge. At every woman in my life’s urging, I made an appointment with my OBGYN.
Actually, that’s not altogether true.
I’m not proud of it, but since I hadn’t been to an OBGYN since having my postpartum check-up…in 2014…, the Great Insurance Debacle forced me to leave the doctors I loved and find a new practice. I figured I was done having babies, so no rush. Meh. Self-care, schmelf-care. No time for that.
That’s a hard no, folks. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean we should ignore our own health. In fact, it’s because we ARE parents that we should care about it even more.
But I digress.
After recommendations from gal pals, I finally got something on the calendar. At the first appointment, I knew I had chosen wisely: my new doc got teary-eyed right along with me when I began my “I miss being pregnant” rant. There aren’t many of us out there–we must unite! Anyhoo, she performed the ol’ internal exam, at which point she declared my uterus was “acting older” than it should’ve been. Could be a laundry list of things, but to rule out the stuff that keeps a gal awake at night, she ordered extensive blood tests and an endometrial biopsy.
Let’s talk for a moment about that biopsy. It was supposed to feel like a really bad menstrual cramp or a contraction. But when your old uterus is home to a tilted cervix, it feels like a rhinoceros head-butting your vagina.
Moving along. After all the poking and prodding, I was “only” diagnosed with crazy heavy periods, though that’s likely not the technical term. Interestingly (stupidly?) enough, I had never realized heavy cycles like mine weren’t the norm until my doc had me complete a questionnaire to determine how badly things were out of whack. For instance:
Q: Do you schedule trips and activities around your monthly cycle?
A: Heck yes! I’m not tryin’ to bait sharks while on vacation.
Q: Do you avoid leaving the house or participating in activities during your cycle?
A: Affirmative. The time I bled through white shorts at my kid’s kindergarten orientation effectively turned me into a menstrual hermit. *waves to kindergarten teachers*
Basically, I was a horror show; therefore, a D&C and an endometrial ablation were deemed necessary. Because pregnancy post-ablation is very dangerous, my doc recommended permanent birth control. If you recall, my husband’s vasectomy had been rescheduled three times and ultimately canceled, so I had a decision to make. Since I’d already be under the knife with strangers all up in my business, I took one for the team and decided to have my tubes tied.
You’re welcome, husband’s testes.
And then the emotional struggle set in. Even though my brain knew we were done having children, taking away all possibility of even a happy accident was tough. Because my doctor had admitted she also mourned closing this chapter of Motherhood, I didn’t feel too weird weeping while my feet were in her stirrups.
Don’t ya know it’s just my luck that a week before my procedure, in what I again regarded as another sign from the baby gods, I, too, had to reschedule my surgery!
The desperate hope I clung to in that moment is actually embarrassing. There was this out of control urge to do something hasty–a last-ditch effort. I seriously contemplated getting my husband absolutely hammered and taking advantage of him. And if that didn’t work, Plan B was: “Excuse me, random man on the street: will you put a baby in me?” It was the kind of urgency that scared me. I honestly can’t explain it; it felt like running in circles and crashing into walls. It still makes me feel big feelings because holy unstable. I felt a connection to those people who do the unthinkable because their brains wouldn’t allow them to see life through a rational lens.
I prayed and begged my husband to relent, to agree to more babies. Instead, we rescheduled my surgery.
On a freezing Monday morning in April, I checked into the hospital at 7:50. I tried like crazy to have a good attitude about it all because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, amiright? I found the humor in my husband receiving a coupon for a free soft drink upon check-in. In exchange for your wife’s uterine lining, please enjoy a free Coke on us. I roared with laughter when the nurse asked the ridiculous required questions, which by the way, have been updated to reflect the times: no, I do not vape, nor do I chew tobacco. And I about rolled out of my hospital bed when a 70-year-old woman appeared in the doorway offering to shave me:
Hi, honey! I’m here to make sure The Area is prepped for surgery.
She positioned a spotlight on my crotch and ripped away the gown. Fortunately for everyone involved, I had done my own ladyscaping, but she was poised and at the ready just in case.
The IV destroyed me, as always. Never good to hear a nurse say, “Oh, my–you’re a bleeder! Look the other way!” But once it was finally taped down, I let go of my husband’s hand which I likely permanently mangled. Get over it, man. At least your balls are in tact.
There we were. Ready! Let’s do this!
And waited some more.
Then after about an hour and a half of nothing–unless you count our in-depth discussion about retirement plans and Google searches for a beach house–we were still waiting. I had peed out half of the IV bag, and my lips were parched since it had been almost 15-hours since I had been able to eat or drink. My patient husband strolled out to the nurses’s station and politely asked if they had any idea when I’d be taken back. One of them gasped: “We forgot to tell you! Her doctor was called into an emergency c-section. I’m sorry! Shouldn’t be long now, though!”
It became harder to keep the humor.
A few minutes later, my nurse poked her head in and as she was apologizing, another code came across the loudspeaker. She smiled sheepishly and shielded her body with the door: “That code means another c-section, so…your doctor won’t be ready for about another two hours.”
Having exhausted all topics of conversation, my husband resorted to his default: food. He mused over important decisions like should he enjoy a snack or a full-blown lunch while I my bald crotch was spread eagle in front of strangers? As he settled on a meal, I reminded him I hadn’t eaten in almost 17 hours and couldn’t be held accountable for my actions. He chuckled and took advantage of the fact that I was tethered to the bed, a non-threat, and fondly reminisced about the yummy pasta he had eaten when I was in labor with our third. “Ya just don’t find many pastas with steak any more. Delicious.”
I vowed to put a laxative in his next meal.
Finally, around 1:15, my doctor came to the room and profusely apologized. I asked about the babies: were they okay? Were the c-sections successful? Everyone happy and snuggling now? It stung a little right then. And it was not lost on me that I was wheeled past the maternity ward to get to the OR.
Once inside, I was vocal about being nervous: “I feel very vulnerable. I’ll be totally out and you’ll be all up in my business, like, literally. And what if I pee on you?!” Everyone there promised they had been peed on before. Nothing to worry about.
The next thing I remember is waking up to what felt like a sock stuffed down my throat. Even though I don’t remember the breathing tube, it certainly left its mark. I raised my hand while in recovery–because I’m a polite student that’s why–and whisper-asked if there was something wrong with my throat. I was given a few ice chips and they were THE BEST ICE CHIPS TO EVER ICE. I wanted to devour them, but the nurse was stingy and only spoon-fed me a few at a time. Turns out, that was a clutch move because I really had to fight the urge to vomit soon thereafter.
Back in my room, I had a job to do: eat a cracker, drink some juice, and pee. That was the plan. And the faster I could do it, the sooner I’d be home. It was almost 4pm, which meant our big kids were already home from school and I knew our middle child would be concerned that I wasn’t there. She’s our worrier.
Operation Drink the Juice went well. I had a few sip and felt good.
Operation Eat the Cracker did not go so well. I was super nauseous, but didn’t want to admit it for fear they’d keep me longer. So I lied and accepted alllllll the meds they would give me. Apparently, Percocet shouldn’t be taken on an empty stomach. Ask me how I know.
Fortunately, my stomach started cramping up pretty good and I focused on the pain instead of the imminent barf. I instantly felt like I was in labor.
Yet another mean irony of the whole day.
I rolled onto my side and my husband massaged his fist into the small of my back, just the way he did when I was ready to birth his children. The pressure helped stave off the pain and nausea, so then we were ready for:
Operation Take a Pee.
I couldn’t do it, you guys. I felt like I had to, but it just wouldn’t come. I sat on the toilet for apparently longer than is acceptable because the nurse kindly asked me to come back to bed and rest.
WHEN WILL I GO HOME?!!
The medical staff was concerned with blood clots, so they wrapped my legs in these things that massaged my calves, which were heavenly. But because they had to be connected and disconnected each time I headed to the potty, it really started getting old. So there I was, strapped to the bed and pouting. Finally, I trusted my stomach enough to drink some more and before I knew it, I was ready! PUT ME IN, COACH! I made my way to the bathroom and tinkled up a storm. From behind the closed bathroom door, I yelled: “HOW ‘BOUT THAT PEE, EH?!” In response, I heard my husband click the nurse call button and announce: “My wife has peed and would like to go home now!”
All told, the entire procedure took about an hour; however, we were gone for about 12 hours. The kids were thrilled to have me back home, but very cautious about hugging Mommy’s “belly boo-boo’s” too hard. As predicted, our middle kiddo wouldn’t leave my side. She put her little hand on my arm and innocently whispered, “When your belly gets better, can we have another baby?” And that may have been the most painful part of it all.