Sunday, July 08, 2007

Getting My Groove Back

One of my best friends back home gave me "The Girlfriend's Guide To Getting Your Groove Back" and it's about time for me to start reading it, I think. We're sort of managing to get into a rhythm and although I still feel completely incompetent at times, I think we're going to make it. Baby E. really is a fun baby at times and makes me laugh more than ever.

So, in an effort to return to a life I can honestly say feels somewhat 'normal,' I am going to post on a fascinating subject relating to giving birth in France -- the physical reeducation of the mother. Quite frankly, I am surprised that more women don't post about this ... Reb is the only one I've seen so far, and I definitely think it merits a post. Or two. Off we go, then.

It's been a while since I posted about my yoga midwife, the one with the Mary Poppins bag of pregnancy-related stuff: epidural needles, breast pumps, plastic name it, she whipped it out for us. The last class topic was devoted to post-pregnancy issues. One thing I like about Yoga Midwife is that she doesn't hold back. We were told in somewhat nice terms that we might end up with flabby abs, floppy female parts, and the possibility of peeing our britches every time we sneezed. Great. I know this woman enjoys her job, because it must be fun playing mind games like that with pregnant women.

Anyway, the first item out of the Mary Poppins Bag of Reeducation Tricks was an abdominizer -- one of those electrical things you hook up to your gut in front of the TV and tell yourself you'll have a 6-pack as you drink your way through one. Apparently there is something to the electrical stimulus that works, but only if we're exercising at the same time. Yoga Midwife got down on the floor and hooked herself up to it and showed us how it worked...take the little whistle thing, do our fancy breathing, and when we exhale correctly over the control box, it will give an electrical stimulation to our abs. No big deal, right? She explained that after giving birth, our abs are in such a state that our internal organs will just sag downwards. At least that's the impression I got, and even though it did give me flashbacks to the wandering spleen of a desperate housewife, that's not the part that scarred me for life.

No, it was the next thing that came out of the Bag O' Trix that was shocking. Let me try to think of a way to explain it that won't send unwanted Google searches my way. Okay, how about this: without warning, Yoga Midwife removed (with a somewhat gleeful flourish, if you ask me) what can only be described as a probe. Designed to go in one's hoo-hoo. With dangling electrical wires attached. Dear Lord.

I think I lost the last shreds of innocence at that moment.

Probably just as well, given what would be coming up during labor and delivery. But back to my story...

Although I am not a rich person and can be called downright miserly when it comes to certain expenditures, I would probably give a good sum of money to be able to go back in time and take a video of the next five minutes in that room. I'm not sure what the expression on my face was or even of anyone else's expression since I was staring in horror, but I'm sure it was highly entertaining for Yoga Midwife. I had two basic thoughts as she started to pass it around the room: 1) Oh, sweet Jesus, please don't let that thing be used, and 2) thank goodness I wasn't the first one she handed it to.

This is a bit of an aside, but sort of relevant to the topic at hand. When I was in my early teens, The Sex Talk was given by a lovely male biology professor who was so nice and patient with us. He let us ask any number of questions -- which we did, with one girl asking a rather daring question that ended with him saying "Well, seeing as how ice would cause the (blah blah scientific explanation), I rather doubt that it would enhance his pleasure. But interesting question!" and he moved on. Anyway, Professor Lundy brought out a plastic replica of male genitalia that split in half so we could get a good look at the vas deferens or what have you, and from my memory I happened to be the first person he gave it to. I was in my early teens and though I totally enjoyed the Q&A session, I wasn't really mature enough to know what to do with a plastic manpart that split apart. I pretty much treated it as if we were playing a game of Sexual Hot Potato* and threw it into the next girl's lap. I'm not proud, but what can you do.

Thus approximately 18 years later I had flashbacks to that moment, and the hysteria started to well up inside. You know the kind, the one that appears at importune moments such as right after anyone says "Let us pray" or at funerals. I was doing my best not to embarass myself again, so much so that I completely missed whatever Yoga Midwife was saying at first...I was too busy watching the poor girl who was handed the probe first. Of course, these French women have flair and wouldn't be caught dead playing a game of Hot Potato. She calmly took it, held it like a glass of Bordeaux, examined it front and back, and finally passed it to the next girl. I was DYING inside at this point. By the time it got to me I had managed to work my face into what I hoped was an expression of "Oh, what clarity! I can tell this was a good year for wine" kind of thing and tried to mimic the process before giving it to the person next to me.

By this time I was able to turn my attention back to Yoga Midwife, who was saying "Now, I have never had to do any kind of treatment with women who practiced their perineal exercises," at which point I can promise you that all of us who were paying attention at that point got kind of a squinched expression and we made a vow right then and there. Yoga Midwife may not play fair, but she gets results.

Flash forward to the day I left the hospital, when the midwife on duty gave me my exit papers which included an automatic prescription for therapy and a probe. No questions asked, the French government cares that much for a new mother. One of my friends didn't have the same talk with her midwife, so she went to the pharmacy to pick it up without knowing what was coming. Can you imagine having that happen to you in a room full of people?

I would love to be able to post about what actually happens during those reeducation sessions, but because I kept my vow I was exempt from the x-rated part. TMI, I know. I did end up doing the abdominizer, but unfortunately I still have a flabby midsection. Here's hoping it worked enough to keep my spleen where it belongs.

*Guess I just got myself some weird Googling there, huh.


Anonymous said...

Oh to be young and carefree and a precious baby too. I sure hope all the important parts are back where they belong and you are doing all the right exercises. Take care and enjoy the little one.

Jennifer said...

Wow, interesting post! I still have so much to learn! :)

Samantha said...

See, you're doing a public service here, and educating the rest of us poor, unsuspecting souls. Before Reb had posted about it, I'd never even heard of (or even considered the need for) that kind of reeducation!

Reb said...

I'm chuckling here in Lille.
I didn't do the abs - my doctor didn't believe in them for "an athletic young woman" (ie crazy runner who was doing 5 miles with a stroller 2 months post partum).
But the probe makes you glad the French are sex obsessed.

Anonymous said...

We Californians could learn a thing or two from the creative discoveries of the French. Your report was hilarious!

MadameK said...

Aahhhhhh, I was hoping for more naughty details, but this post still gave me a chuckle.

Maureen said...

Too funny but not the same as you explaining it to me in March. I think we both were crying because it was too funny and Simon just looked at us like we were crazy...ah your description will live on forever in my mind...and always make me twice about giving birth in France!!!

Sarah said...

This brings back fond memories. Like Reb, I also didn't do the abs but I definitely used the probe. I liked it. I mean...not in that way...but it was interesting. I liked watching the little screen and trying to "squeeze" my way over the mountain. Did you have to do this?

Pardon My French said...

Amomymous, thankya.

Jennifer -- oh, you'll have plenty of fun stuff to blog about these next few months! Share with us!

Sam -- well, if I can spare someone the shock, I'm happy to do so...although I'm probably ruining the fun for the pharmacist.

Reb -- maybe I should feel cheated, then! I definitely don't fit into the category of an athletic young woman.

A'tante'ymous -- I'm certain there are more creative discoveries to be found this side of the Atlantic. Hope you are doing well!

Madamek -- Sorry about the lack of naughty details, although I guess I could post about how the midwife actually determined I didn't need the probe. That was something I wasn't quite expecting that day, either.

Maureen -- I can't wait until you get here and we laugh until we cry about some other random thing. It's always fun.

Sarah -- Now I definitely feel cheated! It looked like torture and nothing about it implied petals or mountains. Maybe she described the process in terms of nature but I guess I was still too shocked to listen carefully. Heh.