Monday, July 27, 2009

The Indignity of being a WOMAN

On most days, I am proud to be a woman. On most days, I will extol the virtues of our gentle nature, our mothering instincts, and our sweet dispositions. (most of the time) But there is one day a year that I find it somewhat humiliating to be a woman.

Do you know what day that I mean? Yup, that’s the one. The day that we visit our ob/gyn.

The whole visit starts off badly. Is it absolutely necessary to say, “Hello, Mrs. Jaycie! How are you these days? Would you like to step on this scale and be completely embarrassed by how long it takes me to balance the little doohickey at your tremendous weight?”

No matter how cheerful that nurse sounds, she always follows her greeting with an invitation to step up on the plate. No sweet smile can offset that.

They then whisk you off to a room where you are asked a series of questions like:

“How old are you?” For heaven’s sake, you have my chart in front of you, and it clearly states the year that I was born. Can you not do the math??? Must you make me say it out loud, when I am clearly in denial over the whole thing?

“Three children?” You thought that perhaps I was crazy enough to have MORE? Or did you think that three was far too many mini-me’s to have let loose upon the world???

“Date of your last known period?” Okay, this one is tricky. I’m sure that I had one last month, but I may have had one in the meanwhile that just slipped by me without me knowing.

When this is over, she invites you to go into the lavatory and leave a sample for her. At least this is easier in my normal state than it was nine months pregnant, when they want you to do this for them weekly. Truly, do they expect you to get a clean sample in that little cup when you cannot even see your own FEET, much less the nether regions of your body? Really, a joy to do today, when you think of it in that perspective.

Next is the doctor’s turn. I enjoy this part, as my doctor and I go back to the birth of Tux. It made me laugh today when he asked the ages of my children, sighing when I told him that Tux was now 18 years old. We’ve been together for a long time, my doctor and me.

He always asks me if my parents are alive and how old they are. I take great pleasure in reminding him that my father is HIS age, and my mother a year younger. I know this because once during a pre-natal visit, he and my mother got talking and realized that they lived in the same valley and had once attended many of the same record hops that a local radio station sponsored. (the wild kids attended these record hops, just to let you in on a little secret!)

He asks his own set of uncomfortable questions, and follows up with, “Hmmm…your weight is up a little.” Really? I hadn’t noticed! And thank you so much for bringing it to my attention, because my day wasn’t nearly bad enough already.

Then things get really interesting. He gives me the lovely little paper drapes and tells me that he will be right back. I stack my clothing neatly on the chair, so as not to look like a slob…tucking any unmentionables into the folds of my jeans so that there is nothing embarrassing hanging out. Then I don my special ‘clothing’, and try to sit nonchalantly on the table.

There is absolutely no way to look casual sitting on an exam table wearing paper clothing that covers only one hemisphere of your girth. Let’s just get that out in the open. So I am trying out positions in which I can pose to look the least awkward when he comes back in. Despite repeated efforts, I never find one that feels carefree.

He knocks on the door. What do you answer??

“Come in!” (always delivered in a singsong voice like you are hosting a Tupperware party in there)

“I’m ready.” (said somewhat provocatively? Or perhaps with doom and gloom dripping from each word?)

“It’s okay!” (which technically means that he is not going to catch my lily white bum as I dash to the table, trying to cover myself before he gets fully into the room, but in my mind, means that I approve of this situation, of which I do not!)

“I’m NAKED!” (which seems the most natural, and what comes to mind first!)

Or the more direct, “I’m as covered as I’m gonna get and you are going to see it all in a minute, anyway!”


At this point, I get to explain to him why my three year old still thinks that he needs to nurse at night, at which the doctor gets a case of the giggles and spends the rest of my time laughing about needing a little nip before nap time. He apparently enjoys this joke, as it keeps him amused throughout the exam.

I add to the conversation that Todd announced to me in Sacrament Meeting at church the other day, (quite loudly) “Don’t wake up my brudder and don’t get your nipples out!” Now, clearly, his brother needed to be awake during church, but the nipples thing? I mean, really, I usually pop them out during our meetings, don’t I? This is after he had loudly thanked his brother for passing him the Sacrament, and then both kissed and licked the little girl sitting behind us.

As we get to the heart of the exam, our favorite part…where usually you look at the ceiling in silence and hope that no one notices that you are there…I decided to defy tradition and looked up over my drape to tell my doctor that SOMEONE needed to invent instruments that were a bit more comfortable.

I think that he was as glad to see me leave as I was. Thank heaven it only happens once a year.

Now I just have to do the follow-up mammogram. Not a bad test, really, for all of the bad press that it gets. It’s been years since I had one, although I’m supposed to go regularly, as my mother had breast cancer a few years ago.

Last time I went, Musician was about nine. He wanted to know where I was going, and I told him that I was going to have pictures taken of my breasts, so that the doctors could make sure that I didn’t have any cancer like grandma. He only caught the first part, and looked a little worried.

“They are going to take pictures of your breasts?” He asked for clarification. “Why? So the doctors can go…” he raised his eyebrows repeatedly and then got a big grin. “Woo hoo?”

I’ve had three children and nursed for a total of 81 months. Trust me. There’s not gonna be any woohooing for THOSE pictures.

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