Doula life and birth stories

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Condoms, coils, contraception and Carburetion. (An explosive mixture for internal combustion)


Free stock photo of sky, sport, jump, bike

I had decided  (obviously this all happened before my hysterectomy) that it would be more sensible to visit the doctor for contraception than to fall pregnant with my sixth child at the age of 49 because I'm fed up with condoms and getting complacent about using them due to the fact that our combined age was now 101, and that's surely to old to conceive?

I hardly ever go to the doctor, so there was a little list when I went, (a large wart and my boring old bad neck) and confronted with this list, the doctor actually thought that the diaphragm was a low priority and could wait.  Bad judgement call in my opinion doc, but I made a non-urgent (because I'm not seriously ill) appointment to see her again in two weeks so that she could then fully concentrate upon furnishing me with my contraceptive of choice.

She spent this second appointment telling me about the coil.  No thank you doctor, I don't want that, I have heavy periods.  Aha! then you will love the Mirena coil, which has a little tiny hormone which all but eradicates periods.  No, doctor, I wouldn't love this.  I do have heavy periods, but I don't want them 'eradicated'.  I just want to not have a baby, but to have sex, without my hormonal cycle being messed about with.

"Diaphragm it is then Mrs W.  Oh, I must ask," (to satisfy the computer screen, for statistics, for drug companies)

"how did you hear about the diaphragm?"

God Almighty Doctor, I'm nearly 50, I'm a trained nurse, mother and grandmother and avid reader of women's magazines, and I haven't spent my entire life living under a stone, so how would I not have heard of the ruddy thing??  

Poor doctor with her cup of cold coffee and acetone breath and her petulant peri-menopausal patient. She peers at me over her spectacles.

" Alright Mrs W, on your way out make an appointment at reception, to see the nurse, for the fitting."

Now I'm most certainly not about to make this appointment in reception in front of my fellow villagers who will no doubt suspend their coughing just as she clearly enunciates the the word 'diaphragm' whilst looking at me, mad menopausal old Mrs W.  (you know, her with all the kids)

No. Instead, I go home and telephone the receptionist, who repeats my name with a questioning inflection in her voice.  This is usual..there are two Mrs Ws using the surgery, so she confirms my address.  I hope that the collective village, sitting stolid in the waiting room are not listening to her end of the telephone conversation as she says, with an even more urgent questioning inflection in her voice (as if she's never heard of one)

"Diaphragm?"

"Can you please not say that out loud in front of everyone?"  I'm wanting to bury my head under the cushions of my sofa.

"Sorry.  There's no one here anyway. (!?) Is that for contraception?"

I hesitate for a second whilst my brain shuffles through its files of information on the diaphragm.  What other use could it have?  A fold-away soup bowl for Lilliputians?   Not boiling hot soup obviously but maybe gazpacho.  The only other diaphragms I have ever come across, so to speak, are the ones in the float-chambers of carburettors in spluttering motorcycles which are inexplicably losing power in the mid-range. Usually flexibility has been lost through age, resulting in a crack in the dry rubber which means they need replacing.  Which can be a pig of a job depending on the arrangement of the carbs.

"Well its not for my carburettor I can tell you that.  Yes yes, for contraception." 

 She completely ignored my carburettor joke, unless it had confused her because then she said,

"You don't mean the coil?"

We made me an appointment for some weeks hence. Well, I realised the following week, that I'd screwed up on my timings and couldn't make the appointment, so I telephoned to cancel.

"Ah Mrs W, we've been talking about you and your diaphragm.  The nurse can't do it and she thinks you will need to make an appointment with the doctor first."

This is a true story.  If a knowledgeable, worldly-wise battleaxe of a mother and nurse can't get herself sorted in less than six weeks and four appointments what hope is there?
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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Back to the town where I was born

Free stock photo of sign, dangerous, travel, station
I'm rattling through the dark old brick tunnels of London's underground system, looking at my reflection in the window opposite.  My mother would have made this journey from the pub where she worked to the dingy flat she inhabited alone during the short few months we spent together as one.  The rattling crazy hurtling of the tube would have felt the same, that sucking vital movement of the blind speeding train.  The hot breath issuing from the tunnels, the impersonal anonymity of the crowd, that smell, the Victorian tiles and filthy floor.  It would have been the same for her, and, curled inside her, for me also.

My life story began here.  Now I'm back, travelling these same lines, hospital visiting my friend. He's pleased to see me, and I eat his lunch.  He is stoical, he doesn't think too hard about the future.  I tell him about the enormous shift that is happening within me, the realisation I have had that the first breath is where we take in everything around us, and the exhale is where we go from there.  The message that its not safe, that unhappiness and fear are all around, is the starting block for the trajectory of my life.  I need to go back and adjust that, but I've only just learned to exhale.

He gets it.  One time, way back in time, in the silent womb-like void after love, he held me like a baby, and in the dusk his eyes were like the eyes of my father.  I was loved, and safe, it was safe to be me.

All too soon its time to go. I need to avoid rush hour, I'm too old to stand all the way home, my womb might fall out.  I watch the countryside rush past, the same places that my dear old dad would have commuted past for thirty years of his working life.  On the same tracks. Working for me and mum, providing for us, before dying too young.  I'm looking forward to better times, to making hay whilst the sun still shines.
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