This is a post relating to reproductive health, which means I'm going to say the word, "vagina," probably more than once. I haven't written the thing yet, so I can't be sure, but we're going to be discussing some things that happen, you know, down there.
Probably you don't read my blog a lot, and we're probably not really close friends, if you refer to anybody's vagina as down there. Do you tinkle, too? Do you feel that most feminine things should end in "-ie" or maybe just an "i," preferably dotted with a little heart because we're just so precious? Do all of your sentences kind of go up at the end, even if you're not really asking a question? Who are you and why are you reading my blog?
Let's talk about my old gynecologist. No names, because that's not cool, but I went to her for several years before I switched doctors. She was recommended by a coworker when I moved back to Tulsa.
Just in case you're a brand new reader, or maybe it's been a while since I mentioned it, I had a baby when I was 16 and gave him up for adoption. I saw a doctor at a well-regarded clinic (which I will also not be mentioning by name in this blog entry) during my pregnancy, and by coincidence, the OBGYN my coworker recommended was also affiliated with this clinic.
When I first realized where the gynecologist's office was, it gave me pause. When I made an appointment for an exam, the receptionist called me by my maiden name, which threw me. But I shrugged off the weirdness and figured I wouldn't have to do a lot of explaining, since they obviously still had my old chart.
Now, I saw the same doctor every year for a few years without really thinking about it. I wasn't crazy about the bloody birth photos festooning the walls, or the waiting room full of pregnant women paging through magazines devoted to conceiving, birthing and raising offspring - my visits there came but once a year, and a glance at a glossy 8x10 photo of a freshly born infant, complete with bloody umbilical cord, well, that was just part of the gauntlet I was willing to run to ensure that my vagina remained a practice-only zone.
They don't let you refill your birth control prescription if you haven't had your yearly exam, and a pelvic exam means a pap smear - a swab of your cervix - and a doctor's fingers in your vagina. In case you didn't know.
On my last exam with my old doctor, she made small talk while she checked my ovaries. I responded politely, which in a gynecologist's office means you scoot your butt down to the edge of the table and agree that the weather's been nice. School must have been starting, or something, because she said something about her children being reluctant to do their homework, and I saw it coming. Her fingers were still in my vagina, and I remember exhaling, trying not to tense up because she would most likely feel it, so I was trying to stay relaxed as her question came swinging down at me and it was the longest exhale ever like seeing a baseball being pitched in slow motion and I was trying not to be horrified because I didn't have a bat -
"I have the hardest time getting them to do their schoolwork. Does your son do his schoolwork?"
I swallowed and took a breath and looked at the Ann Geddes poster on the ceiling as I said, "I don't know. I gave him up for adoption when he was born." I said it gently. I didn't want her to feel like a jerk.
She said, "Oh my god. I forgot."
I think I laughed. I tried to make it sound like it was no big deal. I probably said it was okay, no worries, and changed the subject back to the weather. Or something. I don't really remember. I actually don't remember much after that. It was a couple of years ago. I know I made it to my car before I burst into tears. I know I held onto the steering wheel and bawled for a few minutes before I started the car. I know I never went back to that doctor.
The next time my birth control prescription needed refilling, I searched my insurance network for a gynecologist who was not an obstetrician as well. I ended up making an appointment at a local fertility center. When I got there to fill out my paperwork, I sat in quiet, peaceful waiting room. On the wall was a picture of a fern. I explained my situation to the doctor. Well, not the horrible last conversation, but why I wanted to be there. She seemed to get it. We'll see when I go back.
Vagina vagina vagina.