The OB/GYNs that guided me through two pregnancy and childbirth experiences were both kindly, professional, but totally unapproachable elderly gentlemen. After every appointment I’d walk home berating myself for not asking the questions I’d promised myself I would ask; questions I’d practiced for hours; questions I’d had time to perfect as I sat for 15 minutes studying the walls of the examination room with my pants off and a paper sheet covering my bump and nether regions waiting for the doctor to ‘be with me shortly’. And yes, I should have taken that flyer offering assistance to postpartum moms suffering with stress incontinence. Yet as soon as the doc entered the room I’d be struck mute; reduced to the grunts, nods and blushes of an embarrassed teenager in sex-ed class.
And this was just the basics of childbearing I was stumbling over. After the six week postpartum checkup – where I believe all we did was sit and stare at the fruits of our labor (the ‘cute wee fella’) for 10 minutes – I was pretty much off the books until the next blue line appeared after I peed on the stick. Sure, I could have made an appointment to ‘just ask your OB/GYN’ about some of the myriad complex issues that arise postpartum like depression, lost libido, breastfeeding woes, and of course that stress incontinence to mention but a few. But of course I didn’t. I’m not laying the blame entirely at the door of the OB/GYNs – I know they are busy people, but they certainly didn’t leave the offer open for me to approach them with any problems I might encounter. I’m pretty uptight about most things, but particularly uncomfortable talking about my girly bits and sexual matters, especially with someone who reminds me of my great uncle Charlie.
I’ve recently had the pleasure and privilege of reading snippets of a forthcoming fabulous, frank and funny book “What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend” by Lissa Rankin, MD. If I’m perfectly honest I was expecting something pretty dry (no pun intended) but instead found this book is juicy stuff (OK, pun intended). You know you’re in for a treat when the table of contents makes you laugh. Lissa is that approachable OB/GYN we all wish we had. Read through her chapter headings and you immediately identify with 50% of the questions asked. The answers are Sex and the City style with girlfriends sharing experiences, but even better in this case as Lissa is an expert (OK Samantha is without doubt an expert in her own way).
Lissa answers all the questions I’ve ever had in my 30 years of being a woman, 20 years of being a lover (sorry Mum if this is too much information) and 5 years of being a mother. I can’t wait to read the rest of What’s Up Down There and will be at the head of the queue to get my copy. After all, with my childbearing days well and truly behind me, the menopause is the next big event my girly bits will be dealing with. Oh joy!