PMT chat and stats

TMI Warning : pissing, pooing and bleeding

I just finished my 10,000th wee and third poo of the day and remembered how much of a cunt pregnancy is.

I feel a bit guilty using cunt as an insult. Vaginas are wonderful things so why do we use them as the worst insult ever? But it does have a bit of gravitas ‘dick’ doesn’t quite manage. Dicks are basic. Whereas vaginas are wonderful and interesting things so I am going to share some vagina and vagina related information for anyone who doesn’t spend their time reading vagina books and watching vagina youtube videos and generally googling vagina & co information.

Fact one : PMT is shit

Back to my many wees today, this isn’t the weirdest pregnancy announcement ever, I’m not pregnant…at least I bloody hope I’m not. I am pre-menstrual, I was sat on the toilet thinking this must mean my period is coming (my friend google confirms this is a thing). Excellent news.

I really enjoy my period arriving, I’m not generally an enthusiastic person but I am a (menstrual) cup half full kind of person. Literally half full – which is probably why I don’t mind it as it isn’t too heavy or painful. However what I do dislike is being pre-menstrual for the following reasons:

  • Bloaty mc-bloat tum. This isn’t a vain complaint, we are on kind of lockdown still – I don’t care what I look like. What I do care about is the limited amount of food I can comfortably fit in my stomach as it is too full of air. This also means constipation for 22% of us folk who menstruate.
  • Grumpiness. The cats meowed one too many times today and I genuinely wanted to kick them (but refrained).
  • Spotty face – 50% of us. Not this month though, thanks Caroline Hirons and salicylic acid.
  • ‘mega ceebs’ (term not my own, but I think it is good) total can’t be arsed-ness. Kind of me all the time, but I reach new levels of introversion when I am pre-menstrual.

And I don’t really get these but there is also the:

  • Crying (unless of course you put Little Women on, two hours solid tears when I went to the cinema pre-menstrual one time)
  • Sore breasts
  • Tiredness for 40% of us (obviously have this, unfortunately all month long)
  • Increased appetite (see above)
  • Headaches for 49% of us

(percentages from a survey that Clue App did with 4,000 people who menstruate. I use the app, it is free and good)

Sounds a whole lot like the absolute joys of pregnancy right? There is a reason for that, your body knows ovulation is done for the month so why go out and be friendly when there is no chance of getting impregnated – so it makes you hate people and want to stay home, on the sofa, in ugly pyjamas.

If the ugly pyjamas, foul mood and big tummy aren’t enough to stop you getting laid then it kind of fucks you over by reducing your vaginal lubrication. Your uterus is such an optimist it doesn’t want to waste fluid on frivolous things like sex for fun in case it already has a tiny little fertilised egg to look after. This is also why you might be constipated, it doesn’t want to let you poo, it wants to hang on for food as long as possible to get every last bit of nutrition out to look after that maybe baby.

Entering ‘Autumn’

Maisie Hill in Period Power calls this your ‘autumn’ a much nicer way of describing the winding down, taking it easy and eating comfort food most of us do at that time of year. She recommends bearing it in mind when you plan your month out, not over committing, trying to work from home a bit more and if you’ve planned to meet friends have something easy to cook at home rather than a big night out.

She also recommends using this quiet time for introspection and creativity. Reduced desire to socialise and be active often means greater focus and awareness of your emotions. Yes you might be grumpier during autumn but is it exacerbated by a dickhead in the vicinity? Have a proper think about that now before ovulation rolls round and your brain gets swayed by an overwhelming desire to fuck them.

One interesting thing I learnt from Period Power is that a tiny bit of blood for the first couple of days of your period is not in fact your period. It is classed as breakthrough bleeding and can be a sign of progesterone deficiency, along with other symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Bloating
  • Clumsiness
  • Cysts
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Swollen breasts

Potential ways to fix it include lowering stress, addressing hyperthyroidism, and consuming more magnesium, zinc and vitamins A, B6 and C. Also seed cycling can help, which involves consuming more sunflower and sesame seeds (2-4 tbsps a day) during the second half of your cycle (the bit this blog is about) and in the first half of your cycle (first day of your period and two weeks after) including the same quantities of flax and pumpkin. To be honest it sounds like a whole lot of seeds to me, but if you are a organised and healthy individual it is worth a google.

Maisie also draws parallels between PMT and symptoms of low blood sugar and says how important it is to eat regular and healthy snacks. Seems sensible and easy and, in my case, completely unattainable.

The Pill is progesterone which is PMT

In other words – proper shit.

All the shitty stuff I’ve been ranting about can be blamed on progesterone, the shittiest of the shit hormones that dominates in the ‘autumn’ between ovulation and your period. As you aren’t fertile during this period the pill mimics this with the synthetic copycat hormone progestin to make sure a little dose every day stops you being fertile all month long. It isn’t exactly the same so you might not go full PMT, and it might not be obvious straight away as the effects can increase over time – but you are slowly filling your body with the shit hormone which is often at the expense of oestrogen, literally referred to as THE BEYONCE of hormones (Maisie Hill again).

They normally add synthetic oestrogen to the pill to stop you feeling quite so shit but I think we can all agree there is only one Beyonce.

Now I’m recycling old stats here but they are good stats so if you haven’t already been convinced that the pill is shit and genuine oestrogen is the bomb then digest these stripper facts:

  • non pill taking strippers earn an average of $35 an hour when menstruating
  • strippers who are enjoying all that fake oestrogen on the pill earn a marginal $2 more, taking in $37 an hour on average (all month long)
  • ovulating (and therefore non-pill taking) strippers are absolutely smashing it with all that genuine oestrogen with a crazy $70 an hour

(Pill facts and stripper facts courtesy of How The Pill Changes Everything by Dr Sarah Hill which is super super interesting and I massively recommend)

Now by this point it makes sense to move onto your ‘winter’ (your period), but Maisie told me to take it easy and I’ve already got both my favourite stripper facts and Beyonce down so I feel I have done enough for now.

ps if any real life friends are wondering how i have managed to write a full blog and yet not respond to a basic whatsapp message then please see above. It isn’t my fault it is my menstrual cycle’s fault. Also sorry.

Pissy Pants

TMI disclaimer: masturbation, wetting myself, aggression and vagina gadgets

It has been six blog posts since I have talked about my vagina, that is six blog posts too long.

I’ll probably also write a self indulgent one about my mental health during lockdown, but I’ll start with saying I was feeling a bit crazy the other day.

It was my first child free day in ages, I put fresh sheets on the bed, I was treating myself to a masturbation session whilst intermittently drinking some relaxing Clipper tea. I even lit a scented candle to romance myself. Sounds heavenly but after it all I was weirdly frustrated and a touch angry.

I used to be fairly restrained but since being in charge (hypothetically) of a toddler (tyrant) I’ve lost my shit a few times. I like to scream, I enjoy throwing things – when they break it is even more satisfying. But this is obviously borderline unhealthy and not something I want Emily to see me doing. So I occasionally punch things to let off some steam…not because I think this is what sensible adults do – I’m quite aware this is equally, if not more, crazy. I do it because I can sneakily punch something when Emily turns away and get some release so I can carry on with my day unfettered by unnecessary rage levels.

Anyway, back to my vag.

This time I had this weird urge to sprint it out. I got my running clothes on and as I was short on time I didn’t bother going for a wee first. I had not been running in about three years and it was weirdly satisfying to go at it full pelt, but then I did a wee in my pants. Damn.

I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve wet myself, but since I have nothing better to do I’m going to give you a full account of my post birth urinary incontinence experiences.

1. A proper floor soaker

Five days post partum

Emily was nearly 9lbs, she absolutely destroyed my vaginal muscles which took half an hour to be sewn back together. She also refused to sleep unless she was being held so after 8 hours of holding her and no opportunity to go for a wee, plus ridiculous water consumption to encourage my milk supply, I really fucking needed a wee.

I had her on the table to do a nappy change, the balloons we had been given when she was born were in a tangle. Oscar (the stupid cat) panicked when she cried and sprinted off with the balloons round his neck almost strangling himself. I reached to save him and then was away from the table and freaked out that Emily could fall and remedied the situation by pissing everywhere from the stress of almost dead cat and baby (I catastrophise).

2. Bouncy damp pants

I remember my cousins wife laughing at me when I said I can’t wait to take Emily trampolining. I thought, it’s fine – your pelvic floor got battered by carrying twins for nine months. My single baby hung out high up, horrific heartburn was the pay off to avoid pelvic floor pressure.

Joke was on me. Slight toddler friendly bouncing was totally OK, lulled into a false sense of security I took a trampoline to myself and started going high and doing seat drops and attempting some tricks. Way too much impact for my half full bladder. Luckily it wasn’t a full empty out, it was a pants wet but not leggings wet amount of wee. Enough to be concerning but not enough to stop me going straight to Frankie and Bennys for a post bounce brunch.

3. Testing the waters

Following this I had a bit of concern for my capabilities. I did a few Joe Wicks videos with all the star jumps etc, got quite enthusiastic during the sleeping bunnies bouncing game to see how it goes. There was occasional dampness but not full scale urinary incontinence.

4. Total piss pants

Back to my sprinting, I think a gentle run is fine whereas a full scale sprint was too much for my pelvic floor to manage. I was wet. Wet through my pants and soaking wet leggings wet.

Even more annoyingly when I got back my ex was pulling up in the car and I had fully pissed my pants. I just shouted at him, I’ve been running and I smell and I’m getting changed and rushed past him. Technically all true but I’m hoping he assumed I meant sweat not wee.

No one should have to stand in front of their ex having wet themselves and have them realise. All bad.

Do we all get damp pants though?

My guess is mostly yes (if you’ve had a baby, and sometimes if you haven’t), unless you are French. They get a series of pelvic floor physio as standard after giving birth. How very French, I’m very jealous.

What do we get? As long as your post birth stitches are preventing your vagina falling out you are good to go.

I asked a group of mum friends and quite a few had some kind of leakage when exercising or other times. Some had caesarians so I really need to let go of the ‘I birthed a 9lb baby through my vagina’ complaint.

I then asked my online mum friends and they said to find a women’s health physio. In all of York / Hull / Leeds Bupa didn’t have one specialist on their books. I did find one lady but she had set up on her own and I had to do a bit of calling around before she was recommended. We are definitely not France. I’m really sad about the lack of care we give women post partum.

Pelvic Floor Pampering

So I was quite happy to pay to have some specialist care for my battered pelvic floor but then Covid got in the way. As much as I’d like to have vaginal muscles of steel it’s not really essential travel and I’m guessing she wouldn’t be 2m away.

So I bought myself the Elvie Trainer which retails at £170 so it is pricey and I could justify that I got a discount code and I’m saving money on lockdown etc etc but also why shouldn’t I spend money improving my pelvic floor. Not wanting to piss my pants feels like a basic desire.

So here is the slightly tadpole ish looking vagina trainer:

Click for Elvie Website

The chunky but goes in your vagina with the end sitting between your vulva. It has sensors to tell how you are squeezing (to ensure you are pulling up and not bearing down. If you are bearing down you can actually PUSH YOUR VAGINA OUT which isn’t the technical term but is literally what happens. Terrifying.).

It has Bluetooth so connects with an app and you get to play games with your vagina. Weirdly fun.

There are little hills on the screen and you have to clench and relax to varying degrees to keep the ball hovering slightly above the hills all the time. There are also targets to hit to clench and relax fast for speed. And a how hard can you clench game – a bit like a strong man at a fair hitting the gong with a mallet.

The games are kind of like snake, I’m guessing anyone reading this is old enough to have experienced Nokia in it’s prime.

Is it worth it?

Well I did a little sprint and no wee. But also I’m pretty sure this wasn’t because of one week of Elvie.

I’m a vagina geek so I’ll say yes it’s worth it. I know you can do pelvic floors with no tech but you don’t know how well you are doing and also the standard squeeze relax is boring and probably not as good a work out as having to hold / balance the virtual ball on the app.

Also pelvic floor health is really important. Regardless of having had a baby it weakens as you get older and things like exercise or even a persistent cough put pressure on it so everyone should be doing pelvic floor exercises before it becomes a bigger issue.

I think this turned out to be a fairly long rambly one so thanks for getting this far! Happy to engage in any vag chat if anyone has questions

What my cervix has been up to this week

As I have no social life after 7pm I tend to spend my evenings binge eating and reading. At the moment I’m really enjoying How the Pill Changes Everything by Dr Sarah Hill. It’s full of interesting facts and she’s quite funny too.

She is basically saying that the pill affects all kinds of things and I could try and summarise it but I’m actually quite tired so here is a a Guardian article which is much better.

Here is my one little nugget of information for any aspiring strippers in my subscribers list who can’t decide on contraception. The pill makes you less sexy. Strippers know it. At least the ones that compare tips do anyway.

  • Strippers on the pill earn an average of $37 per hour all month long
  • Non pill taking strippers earn $35 an hour when menstruating
  • Non pill taking strippers earn $50 an hour when not menstruating or ovulating
  • Non pill taking strippers earn a whopping $70 an hour when ovulating

Very interesting points! And I may not be a stripper but it’s still nice to feel a be a bit sexy.

(ps it’s not just sexiness it’s immune system, libido, personal grooming, appetite, energy, choice of partner and general joie de vivre among many many other things I don’t even know yet because I’m only 45% in)

So long introduction over and the point I was getting to is that I decided on the copper coil.

Scary, yes, scary.

Or so I thought but I now am I fully fledged COIL FAN.

So this may or may not be relevant to my own life experience of the coil but an interesting point is that it is a very effective emergency contraception. Whereas the morning after pill which we all think of as being the go to choice is in my (not at all expert) opinion actually fairly shit.

If 1000 women had a shag 55 would get pregnant

If 1000 women had a shag then took the morning after pill then 22 would still get pregnant

I don’t feel that those stats are all too reassuring.

So that’s 5.5% chance in general, 2.2% chance on the morning after pill or less than 1% chance with the coil. And BONUS that the coil lasts between five and ten years depending on how brave you are feeling at the fitting (apparently ten year coil is a little bigger).

I’ll run you through my copper coil journey

Where I live in North Yorkshire you need a preliminary appointment to discuss before you can book in for a fitting. And by discuss I mean horrify you. Perhaps the nurse would describe this as providing you with all the information but if I’m completely honest I wanted to be sick / have a little cry to myself.

In her defence she was lovely (as are 99% of the nurses I meet) and she was telling me relevant and important facts. She even had a miniature coil and womb/cervix model.

The two take home facts I got from the appointment were that around 4 in 1000 women will have perforation of the uterus. Basically as horrifying as it sounds – coil jabs into your uterus hard damaging it and requiring surgery. But this sounds less scary as a 0.4% risk factor.

But then if you times it by 6 to adjust for the fact you have a softer womb when breastfeeding it becomes scary again at 2.4%.

Bring it back to the 5.5% chance of pregnancy (and resulting childbirth and unlimited sleep deprivation) and a bit of minor surgery ain’t so bad.

I therefore booked myself in. And didn’t sleep that night because of the words ‘perforation of the uterus’. Horrifying.

Fast forward two days of me spamming my doctor friend with a thousand stupid questions and I was on my way to York Sexual Health Clinic.

A little nervous, big pack of sanitary pads in my bag. Already dosed up on paracetamol with a full tummy to avoid getting all fainty (as instructed).

As with any medical procedure I always announce my anxiety on arrival. I was optimistic there would be a little of my favourite pain relief, gas and air, somewhere on the premises that she would wheel out. No such luck.

I got up on the bed, legs in stirrups, vag ready. The doctor was doing the fitting with the help of a nurse. Lovely nurse was up for a chat to keep me company so obviously I dropped in the ‘my husband left me’ thing so we could spend the time slagging off men. Seemed appropriate to the venue. I didn’t see any men going through awkward discomfort for the sake of contraception. Standard.

Anyway first up is the speculum, standard smear test issue plastic spy hole thing. Then a funny little womb measuring device. Now it probably verged on pain but I would actually describe it more as discomfort.

I know that doctors describe everything as ‘a little uncomfortable’ and you think yeah yeah shut up this is going to fucking hurt.

I would describe it more as… very weird, do not like.

Once your womb is fully confirmed as being coil suitable then up she goes. And IT WASN’T THAT BAD.

Maybe 3 or 4 minutes from speculum in to speculum out. However as my nurse did say I was getting looked after by the dream team and I completely agree. Absolute five star service thanks ladies.

I wholly recommend going to a sexual health clinic where they are regular coil inserters. No chance of me having a GP who does it every now and again having a go on my cervix. I want the most efficient service going. But I will say a huge well done to those ladies that let student nurses / student doctors have a go, you are braver women than me.

Now at this point a lot of women may feel woozy and stay laid down for a while. Some may need to call someone to collect them. Not me (shockingly) I was absolutely buzzing on life, astounded by my pain threshold. Off I strolled into the York sunshine, not even a stomach cramp to complain of (which is common). Lovely big sanitary towel in my pants for any bleeding – which I didn’t even have.

And now my womb is an inhospitable environment for sperm to survive in, hurray that sperm hate copper. Theoretically it works straight away but it only works if it stays in place and you need to check the little threads are in the right place through your cervix so a lot of women go back after a few weeks to have it checked.

Other than that (and regular checks to ensure the little threads haven’t shifted) you’re good for between five and ten years with no artificial hormones. Wowser.

Anyway as I’m a big oversharer do send me a message if you have any questions. Always happy for some vag chat gals.

(ps some kind of generic disclaimer type thing here. I’m not a medical professional, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about I’m just a cervix owner with a bit of copper in her womb. Do talk to someone who is an actual medical professional if you want advice.)

My pregnancy overhshare part three: (the long read) the birth

NB: apologies if you subscribed and are somehow getting this twice, my tech skills are loooow and I’m publishing again for a friend.

I’m aware I’ve skipped the third trimester part of my pregnancy overshare. I’ll do it eventually but here is a synopsis until then:

Heartburn, heartburn, insomnia, piles, horny, fed up.

But with a couple of friends due to give birth soon I thought I’d write this before their babies come sliding out (because it is that easy).

My uterus is an incredibly hospitable environment. So warm, so comfy. Like a hot tub with a constant stream of snacks yet with no calendar to remind Emily it was eviction time.

So on the Friday morning at 42+1 (which means two weeks and one day after due date for anyone who hasn’t been pregnant) I felt a little bit contracty. For anyone that hasn’t felt a bit contracty it is like a period pain but worse but shorter. I already had an acupuncture induction treatment booked so I went. I was having contractions once every half hour or so from 6am, acupuncture was 9am and had the contractions going more frequent during the treatment. I think the acupuncture bit is a whole other post so I’m going to skip over it for now (but if you do have acupuncture questions of any kind do message me because I love a bit of acupuncture chat).

My dad drove me to and from acupuncture but I didn’t want to let on that labour had started so I just went quiet when I was contracting in the car. Now I can’t remember exactly but I think it happened a couple of times between acupuncture and home which is only about ten minutes so things were moving.

It’s no secret that I like my food, so I made my dad do a sandwich stop on the way home and bought all the snacks from Monk Fryston stores. I had a contraction in the shop and smiled my through it to avoid a shop assistant panic.

Back home I sent my dad on his way in a everything is fine manner and made my own little chill out zone. Curtains closed, snuggly blanket, surrounded on all sides by snacks with the BBC adaption of War and Peace on TV. Carb loading TV bliss. I was hoping this would get the oxytocin flowing and the contractions going.

At about 3pm I was contracting one minute out of every five and I thought it was time to get her dad home from work. When he got home they started to get a bit erratic and weren’t consistently every five minutes so I settled down with a spaghetti bolognese. I was a diligent food consumer.

By early evening they were getting a bit intense so I got the TENS machine out and cracked on with paracetamol. I must say the TENS machine wasn’t exactly my thing. You stick the pads to your lower back and it zaps you with an electric shock pulsatingly, then when a contraction hits it gives you a constant electric shock. I think the idea is something about blocking the pain transmission to your brain from the contraction. It’s kind of like you’re at school and a bee stings you so some twatty kid says I’ll help you forget about the bee sting and stamps on your foot and then you’re thinking about your foot instead of the sting.

It might work for some people but I was just thinking argh my back feels weird and my womb hurts all at once. And I kept forgetting to switch modes when the contraction ended.

By late evening I was getting fed up with the pain (and also pretty bored of being in labour to be honest). Not every contraction was five minutes apart but I was just READY to go to hospital. It was quite a nice drive to hospital. Half on hour but all dark, relaxing music on, warm in the car etc. I remember thinking if I’m not ready to give birth we will drive for a bit as this is nice.

There is a fair old walk between the car park and Pinderfields labour ward. I stopped a few times. Staying upright was hard. Onlookers looked at the complaining bent over hippo with much concern. I was offered a wheelchair and although standing straight was hard, so was proper sitting down, so I continued my bent over hobble all the way.

Arriving at the labour ward was a happy time. I was there, it was peaceful. The suite in the midwife led unit was a beaut. I was unsure whether they would let me into the midwife led unit as I was over 42 weeks so was concerned they would send me over to the clinical hospital ward for obstetrics led care. The letter from my consultant did the trick and got me in. Celebrations all round.

The lights were dimmed, Leon Bridges was playing through the Bluetooth surround sound speakers. The enticing birthing pool was right there. I had arrived in my birthing room of dreams. I just needed a nice ripened opening cervix to be allowed to stay.

Shame I had a twat of a cervix. The bitch was one cm dilated. About 18 hours of contractions and it had opened one cm.

Now I’ll go off on a tangent for those not overly knowledgeable on dilation. Your cervix is the opening to the womb at the top of the vagina. Those who haven’t given birth have a 0cm open cervix. Their cervix will feel like a nose, not that soft, not that ‘ripe’. In the lead up to labour it gets soft, changes the angle a little and can sometimes be 1cm dilated before you are properly in labour. The end goal is 10cm dilated.

Contractions are where your uterus tenses up to pull it all up to stretch the cervix open. Once you get it open 10cm you can start pushing.

So when I was informed that it took 18 hours to get to one cm I was pretty deflated. Dilation can go fast then slow then fast so it wasn’t as though I could assume 1cm in 18 hours means a 180 hour labour until I could push. But still I did not enjoy this news.

The midwife cheerily informed me I could be in labour ‘for days’ hurrah. Best news ever. Thank you. I then cried.

My midwife thought TENS machines were crap and advised a warm bath for pain relief. I was avoiding this as I had been told a warm bath would relax your muscles too much and slow down contractions but my midwife thought the risk of this was outweighed by the need for me to rest and try to nap.

My positive thoughts of having a nice little drive if we got sent away were over. I was in pain, I was tired, I was so fed up. The thought of having contractions every few minutes was too much to bear. They were all consuming and there was zero chance of sleeping through them.

Back at home sometime around midnight or early hours I was in a warm bath. All lights down low to keep relaxed, except I wasn’t relaxed as I was entering the torture zone.

The contractions were sporadic but intense. They last one minute which doesn’t sound long but trust me it really fucking is. I coped by having my husband measure them on his phone and shout when I got to 30 seconds. My logic was that they build in intensity, peak and then fall. So it’s all downhill from 30 seconds in. Kind of.

I could barely speak through the contractions but when I needed hope I would shout TIME and he would say the seconds. Often I thought he forgot the 30 second shout out and the minute must have been over but it would sometimes be 10 or 15 seconds by that point. Which sounds silly but it was the worst pain I’ve ever been in (stick with me here… I’m really not trying to scare monger).

I live half an hour from any hospital and Wakefield involves a motorway. My fear was that I would give birth on the motorway. Fear creates tension which creates pain. Every contraction was intensified by fear.

At some point the sun rose. I remember it gradually getting lighter and thinking thank god the worst night of my life is over. Which sounds pretty melodramatic but I had a pretty easy life until this point so it’s all relative.

My husband decided he was exhausted after being awake all night so we asked my mum to come over to drive us to hospital when I was ready.

If you have a fairly long labour (I was 24 hours in at this point) I think it’s good to have a second birth partner. I contravertially have a lot of sympathy for birth partners. It is boring but stressful and exhausting. Having a tag team system works well.

By this point I was phoning the midwives begging quietly for pain relief between contractions then shouting HEEELLLLP MEEEE during them. I was given the very unwelcome advice to take a paracetamol and maybe a hot water bottle. During negotiations they reminded me I could be in labour for days. I insisted no one would survive this pain for days. She suggested I take a nap. I insisted no human being sleeps through this level of pain. She suggested I get a hot water bottle.

The hot water bottle did actually take the edge off (you might as well forget the paracetamol though). I had a bottle on the lower tummy and one on the lower back. If one was taken to be refilled I lost my shit.

At some point during the morning the midwives changed shift. Best news ever. During one call my new best mate Dawn said they may be able to give me some form of injectable pain relief. However before we left I got a bloody show, the bloodiest bloody show you’ve ever seen (The Show is not a musical it’s a mucus plug that keeps the baby inside the womb all snug and clean). Except my ‘show’ was Chainsaw Massacre, when my mum was on the phone to Dawn reporting this I felt like I needed to push so they said come in an ambulance to be safe (noting I didn’t want to give birth in my golf on the hard shoulder).

I was truly terrified at this point. I think I was naked too, covered in blood and mucus to paint you an accurate picture. When the paramedics came into my bedroom I was just shouting I’M SO SCARED at them. I hobbled my way into the ambulance and was given gas and air.

If Dawn was my new best friend then gas and air was my soulmate. DAMN I was into that stuff.

I think the exhaustion and terror really heightened the effect.

I was recounting my last adventure with gas and air when I was a student and got a shard of glass stuck in my foot and I got offered it while they plucked it out. I gave the paramedic a full review of my Manchester Infirmary A&E experience from 2008 which I’m sure he didn’t want. I also tried to get him and my husband to share the gas and air with me so we could all have fun together but they declined.

It is ever such fun arriving at hospital in an ambulance. You get wheeled in on a stretcher and get VIP access but they also let me keep the gas and air all the way to the ward.

Normally you get the gas and air only during a contraction. No such rules from my mate the paramedic. I was thoroughly off my tits on arrival. My friend was still at Pinderfields recovering from a long birth. I was screaming her baby’s name and saying she had been born here to any passing nurse. I was also cheerily saying Dawn has the drugs, I’m going to see Dawn (on repeat).

At the midwife led unit I got Dawn but also a bonus student midwife Georgina. I heard the student bit of her title and thought she was here for a laugh. I spent a fair bit of time trying to make her do gas and air with me for a bit of fun. I also wanted her to know about a book I’d read to give men advice on pregnancy and labour. In my defence it was written by a male midwife so I felt it was highly on topic.

The book said that men need to get labour going by making the woman orgasm (something about oxytocin and maybe the muscles contracting) which is fine to go in a book. But this author wrote make her orgasm but don’t be expecting anything back (fair) and don’t go wanting to come all over her chest afterwards. I found it a bit explicit and unexpected for a childbirth book and also hilarious after a solid 30 minutes on gas and air. I thought that as a student she would find this similarly hilarious but she just found it VERY awkward as my husband found it VERY embarrassing.

Perhaps to shut me up I was quickly sent through to the birthing pool. The birthing pool is a whole other level of heavenly experience. This thing is no bath. Deep and like an actual pool you can swirl around and go totally underwater. The room lights were dimmed and there were underwater lights shifting from blues to pinks to purples. Oh it was lovely. With gas and air for the contractions. At one point a cheese sandwich was pushed at me. It was the best cheese sandwich I’d had. I was having a good old time.

The key point here was that I was no longer afraid. The midwife led unit was my dream birth situation, I was a happy gal and therefore the contractions were regular and bearable.

At one point they were concerned about how long since I had done a wee. They wanted me to wee in a cardboard bowler hat. The problem was that all the muscle tension from the contractions meant I couldn’t release enough to wee. The main problem was that a full bladder blocks the birth canal to stop the baby coming out.

I had to have a catheter, it wasn’t as bad as you would think. She was using the cardboard hats to collect the wee and couldn’t believe it when she had to get additional hats. So much wee. Apparently I’ve got a massive bladder.

I also did a poo in a cardboard hat (nothing is TMI now). Which was excellent forward planning on my part as it meant I didn’t poo in the pool/ on my baby.

As things got close I was drifting out of this world a bit. In the preceding two and half days I had a total of three hours sleep. I was so tired. I remember going completely underwater a lot and not hearing what they were saying.

For a while I was telling them the head was there and they didn’t think it would be yet but on closer inspection could see it.

I was pushing that baby out for three hours. For quite a long time they could see the head but when that contraction ended she was getting dragged back up. It was so hard.

I really didn’t want to tear (obviously) and I had read a lot about relaxation to avoid a tear. Loosening your jaw, breathing etc and tried this but at one point she had been there far too long and it was getting dangerous.

If anyone wants a description of how it feels to push a baby’s head out of your body the best way I can describe it is a Chinese burn to the vagina. But also I must point out that my birth was filmed and her head was a shockingly small fraction of the size it was after birth when it passed through my vagina. In case you didn’t know the skull is soft and made of segments which overlap to make it smaller. Emily’s became so small that my mum was watching and was absolutely terrified something was seriously wrong as it looked alarmingly small.

Back to the story… I managed to get the head out but the shoulders were stuck.

Quiet concern was passed between two midwives whilst staring at my vagina/baby’s head. Emily was being born en caul which means that my waters hadn’t broken. So basically the protective sac that she had grown in was coming out of my body intact with all the amniotic fluid, which should be clear ish. I now know they were trying to work out if she had dark hair and that explained the colour or if she had done a poo inside the sac which was making it brown.

Doing a poo in the womb isn’t just gross it is a sign the baby is stressed. If the baby is stressed it is a warning that something could have gone very wrong. The baby needs to be out as quickly as possible. In my case they thought I was close enough to get her out.

Alarm buttons were pressed and more midwives flooded in. Gas and air was confiscated. Calm breathing and an open jaw was disallowed. I was told don’t breathe, don’t pause, grit your teeth and push push push push.

It didn’t work. They said get out of the pool we are going to cut you. Sounds quite scary really. In a bid to reassure myself I said with the local anaesthetic yes? And they said no time and too risky. So I said you lift me out of the pool yes? Nope they said. You climb out and don’t smack the baby’s head on the side.

I climbed out but it wasn’t easy. I then crab walked to the birthing sofa (no hospital beds in this super chill part of hospital).

At some part during this graceful moment the waters broke. They were right there had been poo. Poo and amniotic fluid went all over the pool / room, with blood.

And then said give us the hardest push you have ever done or we cut you.

That kind of threat did the job. Out she sloshed.

I wish I could say there was this magical moment where I had a lightening bolt of love like I had never before experienced and would change my life forever.

Instead I thought wow so slippery, so dark (remember she was effectively covered in poo), so vulnerable. What the fuck am I doing. But then she didn’t scream.

My plan was delayed cord clamping but a rub down later she still wasn’t breathing and got taken away to be resuscitated in another room.

I later found out that she had the cord around her neck twice which was why she wasn’t breathing initially, and probably why she kept getting dragged back up when I was almost pushing her head out then disappeared back up again.

Now her being taken away sounds scary and of course it was. But I knew this wasn’t unusual and with everything going on I just thought surely nothing bad could happen, that would be too bad, I can’t even consider the possibility. Before they could get her to the machine she started breathing on her own and was brought back for a cuddle, all safe.

However I needed the placenta out. I wanted it to come out of its own accord with a little pushing from me (natural third stage). I was told this wasn’t safe, I think because I was maybe bleeding too badly so I had the injection and they gave it a little tug. I was terrified of the tug but it wasn’t too bad.

Then they said I needed stitches. I had a second degree tear with ripped muscles inside my vagina and ripped skin on my vulva. I was so terrified. I lay with legs in the stirrups and she almost started a few times and I shouted, no stop, I was too afraid. They do give local anaesthetic but who wants any kind of needle shoving into your battered and torn vagina.

She kept telling me to have gas and air and I kept saying no I feel too sick. I succumbed and was soon back on the happy train. I kept chatting about my favourite midwife of all time Ina May Gaskin and was fangirling all over the place. I got so enthusiastic I was literally shouting at her and kept waking the baby and getting told off by her father. That stuff makes me drunk and disorderly in an enthusiastic kind of way.

At the end they put a painkilling suppository in your bum. Dawn looked really concerned before she told me this (because I was pretty much losing my shit at anything that happened before that) so I got really worried when she warned me I wouldn’t like what was coming. She said very seriously a suppository needs to go in my bum. I said very seriously back, am I allowed lube? And when she said yes I drunkenly said Dawn as long as it is lubed up you can put anything in my bum. No problem.

Just a reminder that my mum was in the room, as was my husband when I very much made it sound like I was some kind of lube / anal connoisseur.

And although this is highly non relevant (and I issue no judgement to those that are) but I am 100% not a lube, and certainly not an anal, expert.

I was just happy as a clam at high tide that the needle in vagina segment of my day was over.

On that cheery note I feel I have said enough. If you got this far then thanks, I’m appreciative of your commitment to my lengthy birth story.

And as a side note to anyone that was bothered by my descriptive words such as torture to describe my cervix dilating at home I’ll tell you this. My friend got to a similar level of dilation walking around at home feeling ‘a bit weird’. No labour is the same, no experience of pain is the same, no body is the same. But most of all YOU GOT THIS and you will get through it and when you do you will be a fucking superhero no matter how you get there.

Why Fifty Shades of Grey is bullshit bullshit bullshit

NB : This photo has almost no relevance to the article. But when I typed ‘sex’ into the search bar he was the only man and why not?

As babies offer very low quality chat I always do a lot of reading. At the moment I’m on Come As You Are : the surprising new science that will transform your sex life. Obviously this is HIGHLY relevant to my currently very active sex life. But I was a good Brownie, always be prepared etc. It is written by a sex therapist and it’s quite interesting.

Anyway apparently noncorcordance isn’t very well known outside of psychology / sex therapist land so I’ll share a fact with you.

Fifty Shades of Grey was bullshit. ‘Of course it was’ you’re thinking. No woman says ‘holy cow’ when turned on and yes this is correct, that is one it many reasons why it is bullshit.

But also in one of the early scenes Christian gets all spanky and whippy on Ana.

He asks how she feels and does she say ‘aroused’?

No she bloody does not. She says ‘demeaned, debased and abused’.

Does that sound fun? No it does not.

But Christian then says AH-HA but I note that your vagina is wet. Therefore I am the all knowing sexual master I presume myself to be despite you categorically telling me you are not enjoying this I can say I know better.

Because… MEN.

So the science is that if you show a woman anything sexually relevant her genitals will frequently respond, but if you ask her if she is aroused then there will only be a 10% overlap for what she says she likes and what she is physically responding to.

So if you show a woman who isn’t into watching bonobos have sex (and who is) a video of bonobos having sex she will probably have increased bloodflow to her genitals. But if you ask her if she is aroused she will probably say ‘nah, these are apes and I’m not into ape sex’. But women are very organised, very prepared people. The female body says ‘ah, I recognise that this is sex and I shall make preparations just in case’.

This physical reaction without a mental agreement is called noncorcordance.

Whereas men have a 50% overlap between having both a sexual reaction and a mental note that it is arousing. It’s not 100% but it’s a lot more than women have. So basically men are less responsive to things that are sexual, but are not their sexual cup of tea. They can’t be bothered getting hard unless they want it to end in sex. Some might say efficient, and they’d be right. But I say lazy because men are annoying and I have a pessimistic view of males.

Luckily for Christian Grey twat face, Emily (the author of Come As You Are) has re-written the dialogue:

Grey says to Ana, “Feel this. See how sexually relevant your body considers physical contact with your buttocks and genitals, Anastasia. That gives me no information about whether or not you liked it. Did you like it? No? Double crap, let me make it up to you by reading Emily Nagoski’s book about women’s sexual wellbeing, so that I have a clue next time.”

It’s also true that women can be really into it without showing any physical signs. Perhaps because it’s nowhere near ovulation so her body thinks – why waste resources? Perhaps she is dehydrated and her body thinks – why waste resources? Perhaps she has given birth and her hormones are still saying WHY THE FUCK WOULD I DO THAT AGAIN? Female bodies = very sensible.

So in case there are any men reading this (which I highly doubt there are). How do you know if she is into it?

Just talk to her, watch her body language. Good life advice in general really.

Cups of blood

I know I’ve been absent for a while, and the main thing my huge fan base has been wondering is how my next period went, was my search for the perfect menstrual cup fruitful?

I’ll say now this article may be way too TMI for some readers. It’s all vag and blood so skip on if that’s not your thing.

So! For for those of you that missed my terribly exciting last period post I was looking for advice on the perfect menstrual cup for me.

Got my cup stuck

I had a little dabble in menstrual cup usage pre baby. I bought a moon up in the smaller size (which is for under 30s who haven’t had a baby). But I found my vagina was terribly possessive of the little thing and I couldn’t get the bugger out. It’s a clear cup with a ribbed end to grip onto to pull out, only I get couldn’t get it out! So after much much googling, tugging, some squatting and finally a poo beforehand it was released in a big messy blood explosion all over the toilet. Never had I been more relieved to get something out of my vagina. It did get easier with more usage (and more ‘bearing down’) but it was always an effort.

As it was clear it eventually turned a little less clear (as obvs…blood). And you need to rinse it between each emptying and then sterilise in boiling water, or in the dishwasher (🤢) after each period. I kept a dedicated mini pan to sterilise in, but I didn’t really want to keep a period pan in my house.

So I wasn’t in love with my moon cup and reluctantly reverted back to tampons.

Oh Hello Aunt Flo

After a significant menstruation break of 18 months following a pregnancy and breastfeeding I got my menses back. I went old school and used pads, which I hadn’t done since I was a teenager. But pads are a bit gross in my opinion, I get paranoid you can see them, what if there is a rustle? A smell? So much paranoia. And then you have a bin full of discarded uterus blood. No thanks.

Luna Luna Luna Luna

So after much thought (my friend told me which to buy) I got the Me Luna. I like it because

– it’s black

– it has a little ring pull thingy

– it is the most popular with Scandinavian women (who we all know are superior human beings)

However there are other pull options and sizes:

So it was easy to insert (as was the moon cup tbh). You just fold the upper section, pinch with your finger tips and up she goes. However as I walked away I could feel the ring pull slipping out 😱. I had all kinds of horror about the state of my enormous vagina. So I took it out and tried again and it was fine, I think I hadn’t put it I far enough the first time.

Extraction was easy, maybe because of the ring pull…maybe because I pushed a nearly 9lb baby out of my vagina with sheer ‘bearing down’ force so a moon cup with a ring pull was ZERO challenge for my new found skills. (here I am pretending this is a wonderful skills to have, when in reality it’s probably that I don’t have a super tight twenty – something non mother’s vagina 😔).

As removal was easier there was no dramatic explosion as I could take it out in a rather civilised manner (after the first try anyway).

And I found this menstrual cup steriliser which just goes in the microwave with a bit of water when you’re done for the month. Easy peasy.

I think it was £27 for the cup and steriliser. But I never have to buy tampons again. Hurrah.

I also think it’s better for your vagina. It’s not drying, it hasn’t been bleached.

And you don’t have to flush tampons (ps don’t flush tampons, I know they say you can but I know a plumber who gets called out to sort tampon issues. You don’t want that.) and you don’t have to fill your bin with uterus blood soaked bits of fibre. Gross.

And it’s better for the environment.

So buy yourself a menstrual cup. Do it.

18th May: Aunt Flo came to town

NB: Not my photo, not my hands, I’m not that gross (but still gross enough to include the image).

Now I generally avoid stupid ways to avoid saying the word period but the title ‘I am menstruating’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.

BUT I am menstruating, which in general is boring news but I haven’t done it in 18 months so I feel it is blog worthy.

I thought my body would be like woah, what is this?! I don’t want it. But in reality my body said this is nothing, I contracted a baby out, I’m fine here.

So…totally acceptable amount of blood loss and not too much cramping. Thanks first period, thank you body.

Now when I was last a regular menstruator I gave a mooncup a go but I wasn’t totally sold. It was a faff to grip hold of to pull out, sometimes I couldn’t get the bugger out and a Google search recommended doing a poo right before. It’s a bit annoying to wait for a poo to sort your period cup out.

But, as I have already mentioned I pushed a baby out last year. My vaginal canal is an expert in pushing things out. I’m back in the menstrual cup game with a new found sense of confidence.

Soo…the market has expanded since I was last shopping. I want a menstrual cup with an easy grippy end. Hopefully someone reads this and knows my menstrual cup of dreams? Message me please menstruation experts I want your help!