"Any bowel or bladder issues?" asks the frantically cheerful office nurse, tapping away energetically on her tablet computer as I climb on the exam table.
"Uhhh... well..." I stammered, not sure how to admit that at 29 years old and 6- weeks post-partum, I was basically peeing myself the entire time I cranked out a 3 mile tempo run yesterday on the treadmill.
And I didn't even know it until my shorts could no longer hold the load and urine had started DRIPPING down my legs.
"Well..." I started again, taking a deep breath, knowing that as an RN myself, it's best to just let 'er fly. "Well...yesterday I was running and I noticed that I had a little leakage of urine."
I could feel my face turn red as she answered matter-of-factly with that sterile, false sense of concern, "Kegels. Just keep doing the Kegels."
Kegels. The answer to everything female-related. Have a leaky bladder well before your time? Kegels. Can't poop? Kegels. Partner spending too much time in the garage? Watching sports? Kegels. Unsure of the meaning of life? Kegels.
Great...just what I want to do. Practice stopping the flow of urine 12 times a day. I'll be sure to add that to my calendar between the baby's cardiology appointments, the laundry, endless breast-feeding sessions that have caused my couch cushions to practically collapse into the floor, and trying to recall how to make conversation with my husband that doesn't revolve around the baby.
Kegels. Got it.
I mumbled my thanks and accepted her offer of the pre-warmed backless wonder of a gown with my pride tucked between my previous day's urine soaked legs, and muttered a brief, "I'll be sure to work on those." The nurse nodded her head absent-mindedly, and continued to tap in my vitals.
As she worked in silence, I kicked off my running shoes, ready to change into The Gown, and mentally kicked myself for even thinking that my leaky bladder would even be a blip on her radar. Of course it isn't a big deal; 6 weeks ago I cranked out my 8#, 1 oz daughter in under 15 minutes like it was my job, came out with only 2 sutures, and hell, she didn't even have a damn cone head! Duh...who am I, of all women who have spewed forth from her loins a beautiful little miracle to even THINK that the golden fountain was something to mention?
But I digress. She was just doing probably the exact same thing that I would have, had I been her and she me. Blown it off without looking like she was blowing it off.
After she left the room to allow me in all my lactating glory to change, I sat on the paper-covered exam table, alone with my thoughts. Yesterday was tempo run day in my Half-Marathon training plan and I was very proud to say that I owned that bitch. 3 miles at an 8:34 pace, which was exactly where I was running back when I was side-lined about 5 months ago. And it would've been a lot more to celebrate if I hadn't had the ever-present reminder of my beautiful daughter's entry into our world dribbling embarrassingly down my legs.
I was cooking hard with peanut oil, no side stitches, only a little bit of pelvic bone pain, no knee/hip pain and I was rocking. The miles seemed to be slipping by effortlessly, and I was THRILLED to (finally!) be doing something without 15# of baby, amniotic fluid, placenta and a partridge in a pear tree sitting on my bladder. In a word...AWESOME. But I couldn't help but have this ominous sense of discourse; I didn't have to pee. At all. And this was after downing a 32 oz Gatorade about 30 minutes prior to my run. (Breastfeeding requires additional hydration!) But hey, I was running, and already thinking, "5K next weeked, yo!"
Never mind that the wondrous sensation of lack of bladder irritation was coming from the fact that lo and behold: my bladder was emptying. As I ran. On a treadmill. In a gym inhabited by nothing but young, single, CHILDLESS men who probably knew nothing of the mysteries of the female form post-birth. While wearing bright purple running shorts. That show ALL liquids.
And they say that pregnancy, birth and motherhood is beautiful.
But run I did, urine and all! And of COURSE as I ran I became much more acutely aware of the warm sensation gushing in my shorts about every 1/3 of a mile, which then triggered my let-down, so naturally not only was I leaking urine, but now I had two half-dollar sized wet spots on my red tee-shirt.
Might as well have been holding up a big sign that said, "Pissing my pants, and in need of a good milking".
I felt like an animal. A bipedal, lactating, linguistic, mammalian specimen on display in her natural element. Kind of like a chimp. You know, the chimps that shoot around, barbarically chasing one another with their long chimp-titties dusting the grounds.
At least my vulva isn't the size of a banana. Well...not that I can tell, anyway. But I did just have a baby 6 weeks ago.
But I stuck it out. Urine is washable, but pride is forever. I finished the work-out, waddled my way into the bathroom as discreetly as possible, and silently thanked whomever it was that came up with the idea that running shorts should be wicking and fast-drying. AS I exited the gym, I said as nonchalantly as possible to the buff guy working the counter, "Man, that was a particularly sweaty work-out! Looks like I'm going to have to sit on my sweatshirt to protect my upholstery!"
I have pride, but I'm not made of steel.
The 7 minute drive home was a relief. I came up the stairs, greeted my husband who had just put our baby down for a nap, and (against my better judgement) proceeded to do what all new moms do:
And not one to spare ANYTHING, I filled him in on all the pissy details. (Pun intended). Expecting the typical male reaction of "Well, how long does THAT last?" I was pleasantly surprised to see my husband laughing at my predicament, not the least bit grossed out. He even asked if it would help at all to put one of C's diapers in my shorts. "You could share, like how some moms and daughters share clothes and shoes, you know. And baby you're so smokin' hot that C's diapers would fit you PERFECT." Which in turn lightened the mood and made me laugh. And caused me to overshare some more.
So when I sat there in the office, recalling my latest adventure in the new world of Mommyhood that no one ever seems to tell you about, (or maybe in my case, failed to listen), I had to no choice but to cheer a little at the situation. No matter the reaction of those around me, I have to remember to not take myself too seriously. And look on the bright side...at least I didn't s@&# myself like I almost did at my last race, 24 weeks pregnant and high on stool softeners.