Monday, April 5, 2010

Mums could be surgeons.

By the time you've had a baby (or two), you've encountered enough bodily probing to last a life time. Especially during those last few weeks of pregnancy, when the doctors begin checking your cervix for dilation every few days, seeing whether the baby has "dropped" yet, feeling for its head, and generally poking around way too much.

The worst amount of prodding and poking occurs during labour and afterward. After you get over the initial outrage, you come around to the idea that basically you're a human lab rat and you're going to have to let the medical folks do what they need to do.

In my case this wasn't necessarily a bad thing - thanks to the poking and prodding from the medical folks, one doctor was able to unhook the umbilical cord from around my son's neck while I was in labour. While he was still in the womb. Ouch. But, thank goodness she did.

Then, as you enter motherhood, you realize that your old protests that never ever in a million years will you clear up anyone else's vomit or other bodily substance because that is just GROSS dude, is no longer valid because now it's simply part of your life.

And suddenly nothing bothers you any more.

A wounded soldier could turn up on your doorstep and ask you to clean up his open wound and sew him up and you'd fetch your sewing tools and do it without batting an eyelid.

I used to be squeamish. I loathed blood tests, injections, and any kind of medical exam. The pale green interior of a hospital and the chemical smell of it would make me want to sprint in any other direction. If I accidentally cut my finger, the sight of blood made me faint. Watching a medical drama with a surgeon cutting into someone on the operating table would have me hiding behind a cushion or switching channels.

Now? Nothing. Nada. Not even a little flinch of horror.

A year ago I went to my doctor to have a mole removed from my neck. I lay on the table and watched as she hovered above me and began carving into the skin around the mole, dabbing at the blood with cotton wool as it escaped. Five years ago I might have actually passed out or thrown up at the sight of the blood and the thought of what was going on. Instead I lay still, chatting casually about something irrelevant, fascinated in what she was doing.

And after a week spent playing nurse to a house of stomach flu victims (myself included), I've come to the conclusion that I have a stomach of steel. I simply must have. Because very few things body- or medical-related phase me any more.

Funny how things change.
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Little Ms Blogger said...

Not me. I didn't mind when 2 surgical teams came to inspect me after several surgeries, but when asked if I wanted to look at my open wound (which from hip-to-hip and my whole hand could fit in), I passed.

Apparently, I was the only person they met that wasn't curious.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

You are so right. Nothing phases a Mum. Our dignity was lost so long ago and we've realised we might as well just get on with it. So we do. x

Mwa said...

You are braver than me. I still can't watch when they're drawing blood out of my arm, and vomit still freaks me out, too.

Loukia said...

Although yes, as a mom I've been through it all too - from all the prodding during labour and after, and all the cleaning up after our kids - I'm still pretty squimish!! (sp?) I don't like, nor can I clean up vomit very well - that's my husband's job! Things still make me quesy, too! I guess I'm just not strong enough yet!

ShannonL said...

I have a major gag reflex... If I see (or even smell) vomit, I WILL vomit! Like Loukia, cleaning it is my husband's job! :-) Even poop. I changed a lot of diapers and still wipe poopy butts, but it does bother me. And I gag on most occasions. But it's just something we as mothers have to do, so I gag and get on with it! :-)

Margaret said...

I think motherhood does that to people. I don't have kids but I have always loved all things like that so I am an odd one!

Kristy said...

Yep, during Mohs surgery to remove some lovely skin cancer on my neck, I was fine! In the past, I would not have fared too well. The surgeon said that the bravest patients are always older women, and the wimpiest patients are always young men.

FRANNIE said...

I agree with you completely. Mom's have nerves (and stomaches) of steel.

We can not only clean up the 'mess' but we can rattle off a consistant spew of reassurance like nobodies business. You know, 'of course it's going to be fine, deep breath this might sting a little, blow on it and the pain will go away....

gringationcancun said...

I got over the "ewww" phase when I had to help my in-laws take care of 8 puppies for 2 months.

Having to clean massive globs of poo stuck onto hairy little bottoms really puts things into perspective.

Unique and interesting post!!

James (SeattleDad) said...

I, strangely, am getting more squeamish now that I am a dad. Or maybe I am just too far removed from the gore of the farm life.