This isn’t actually a picture of me. But it is exactly how I felt when my uterine catheter came out.
This post may perhaps come across as a tad bit dramatic, but I assure you: Your vagina has never felt so good as the day your uterine catheter comes out. For me, that was yesterday.
My wife and I drove from Upstate New York to Long Island to celebrate — with the rest of my family — my grandparents’ 67th wedding anniversary. It was destined to be a good day, though it did not start out that way.
I hadn’t been sleeping well with the tubes of my catheter pressing into my thigh and the overall discomfort of this foreign object inside of me, so I woke up early, tired and sore. The should-have-been-three-hour-drive into Long Island (why does anyone live there?) turned into a three and a half hour drive, and it was hellish.
Thanks to my catheter, it felt like someone’s fist was up my vagina. To be clear, I don’t actually know what that feels like; I’m just imagining here, folks. And as though metal (it was hard plastic, but still) was jabbing into the flesh of my thigh. To make matters worse, we missed our exit, drove 12 exits out of the way before realizing, and I had to pee. Full bladder + uterine-catheter discomfort = one very pissy Aela.
After finally arriving and rushing immediately to the bathroom to 1) relieve my bladder 2) drain the blood and fluids from my uterine catheter 3) clean myself with vagina wipes 4) put on a fresh pad and 5) change out of my sweatpants and into clothes appropriate for such an event — all in a public restroom, mind you — I ordered a glass of wine, stat.
This uterine-catheter experience has been the worst so far. I even told my mother that it was worse than when my milk came in on Christmas morning after miscarrying my twins.
I visited with family, chatted with cousins, aunts, and uncles, and listened to my grandfather reveal the secrets of a 67-year marriage (wake up and apologize in the morning for the dumb things you’ve yet to do that day; this way, you’re covered). As I was eating lunch, I started to cramp more than I have since the hysteroscopy earlier this week, when the doctor gave me the uterine catheter.
I walked to the bathroom, feeling a little weak. When I took my pants down, there was blood all over my leg. The end cap to my catheter had popped off — likely, I’m assuming, because my jeans were too tight. You see, I’m supposed to have been wearing loose-fitting clothing all week and “taking it easy.” I’m pretty sure my Lucky jeans and the godawful drive to Long Island didn’t meet these requirements, but I wasn’t going to miss this event.
The blood was easily cleaned, thanks to the vagina wipes I was required to carry with me. But I quickly realized the blood had soaked through my jeans. Luckily, since the catheter’s tubes hang five inches out of me, the blood stains looked more like I sat in ketchup.
Walking back to the party table, I bumped into my mom in the hotel lobby, and I began to cry when telling her what just happened. This whole experience has been hellish. Not at all what I thought having a baby — or trying to have a baby — would be like. Here I stood, tired, worn, and with this uncomfortable-but-necessary scientific apparatus shoved into my most vulnerable and precious body.
My mother, of course, said all the right things. It’ll be out soon. This is just one more thing you have to go through. You’ll get a break soon. I love you. Hang in there.
When the party was over, I returned to the bathroom to repeat the same steps I went through upon arriving. Except this time, as I stood over the public-restroom toilet draining my uterine catheter, it did what my doctor had said it might: It came out on its own.
For the first time, I got to see what had been inside of me for the past five days. It wasn’t pretty. But I stood there, holding it in my hand. This foreign visitor was gone from me. And I had my body back.
I suddenly felt a rush of relief. I sighed in gratefulness. I looked up and said, “Thank God this is out of me.”
I suspect the cramping was the catheter working its way out of my body. My doctor will tell me more at my appointment tomorrow. But — for once — it matters little what he says. I know (because I feel) that my body was simply done with this device. It served its purpose of keeping my uterus open, and it left my body.
This uterine-catheter experience has been the worst so far. I even told my mother that it was worse than when my milk came in on Christmas morning after miscarrying my twins. At least, I felt, that was part of a natural process. This. This was something else entirely. Each day that foreign catheter was jammed up into my uterus felt like punishment. Punishment for choosing an unnatural way to have children. Punishment for mistakes made years ago.
It was a constant reminder of a body that has betrayed me. Of an inadequate body. Of a body that relies on science to carry a baby, but a body that might not actually even be able to carry a baby — even with the help of science.
Yet, because of this catheter — specifically, how this catheter left me — I’ve regained faith in my body. Even with science, my body knew what I needed and knew what to do. It escorted that foreign and unwanted visitor out of me. It released what I could no longer take. My body took care of me.
And most importantly, my body took care of itself.
I was so happy to have my female parts back and a renewed sense of faith in my own body that, when I got into my car to begin the return trip home, I grabbed my privates and said out loud “I LOVE YOU, VAGINA!”
And I do.
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make a Right.