Friday, 21 October 2011

A letter ....

Next to my laptop lies a letter. One which has been opened and then duly discarded. On the envelope there are crossed out to do lists and names of friends I want to hook up with. Down the middle of the envelope is a tear that extends from top to bottom. The envelope is shabby, the corners curled and its contents willfully ignored. I had another letter like this months ago but it got shoved in the bin. This current version is a reminder of the first. What is this letter you ask? It's a communication from my dear friend the NHS. So I have begrudgingly taken the contents out of the envelope. Emblazoned across the top of the letter is ......


My body tenses in response to these words. My 'feminine den' (er sorry, for some reason I can't use the 'V' word as this feels too clinical and 'fou fou' would have been woefully out of context) tightens and barricades itself like the sudden and definite slam of a shop's shutters being pulled down. I know I need to do this. I know I have to have the test done. But I can't bring myself to pick up the phone and make the appointment. My heart beats faster. The thought of any medical stranger shoving a cold lubricated speculum up me makes me want to SCREAM. My throat burns.

I have had these routine tests administered before. They never affected me then. I am a responsible person. I don't want abnormal cells. I don't want cervical cancer. I want to look after myself. BUT I don't want a strangers doctor's fingers anywhere near my vagina intimacy. Legs are now crossed and thigh muscles have tightened. My face feels flushed. I have lost faith in the NHS.

When I look at the letter I am vividly reminded of the blood on the doctors hand when she withdrew her fingers from me.

Heart beats faster. Tears coalesce.

It was the night of my inpatient labour induction. The female doctor arrived to administer the prostaglandin.  That felt okay but then without any warning she started stretching my cervix apart. I don't remember consenting to a sweep as well. God it hurt. A stranger's fingers prising me open as if she was yanking on a stubborn drawer ........ And the blood. The blood on her hands. Numbed, shocked, I sought refuge in my head. A place I still reside unwilling to step back into my carriage. My body no longer belonged to me. It felt hijacked by her fingers poking, prodding, making contact with areas I had never been. She planted her territorial flag on me.

I recoil at the remembrance of what I felt. My cervix burned and cried and imploded on contact with those alien, indifferent fingers. How it burned. How it felt so tender. There were more fingers that night. Perfunctory midwives fingers' checking, stretching, circling some more. It hurt so much. My cervix, the holding, sentient protector of my unborn child now so violated and harmed. All in the name of progressing a labour.

I forgot that I could say no.

NO. NO. NO. F**king No.

I wish I could have become an untamed dragon, banshee, dervish, flailing mad eyed woman and held a shield to my body. Oh how I wish. My body would still feel like it belonged to me. Now my cervix was public property. I cannot remember how many internals I had that night. But it was enough. By morning I felt ashamed, humiliated, and totally vulnerable. All I could feel was my wounded cervix. I really couldn't see it dilating now. Lets face it, it wasn't being shown the love.

So this is why I dread having the cervical smear. I have to have it done but I feel terrified of another intrusion to my body.  After the birth my body went on lock down. You can only imagine how this has affected my relationship with Younger Dad. If I have another baby, this is what the birth plan will simply say .... treat this vessel with respect.

......And do you know what's interesting? When my regular midwife performed three sweeps on me prior to my inpatient induction it never hurt. Not once. And do you know why? Because she treated my body with gentle respect informing me at every stage of what she was about to do.  So my body relaxed and yielded to the process. AND at that point my cervix was soft, ripened and ready for labour. So it just goes to show how much force that doctor used. Maybe I should keep remembering the care my regular midwife took. This might help me to relax when I finally turn up for a smear test.


  1. How funny! I'm sitting on my second reminder for one of those. Know it's an essential humiliation, but keep putting it off.

  2. This is a powerful birth trauma story and it really gets to the heart of why people feel they were raped by their providers. Hope you get some support, you can recover and choose who touches you again.

  3. Oh lady, I'm so sorry to hear of your awful awful birth experience, my heart went out to you reading that.
    I went for my smear a week ago, and utterly dreaded it. S is nearly 6 months old and nothing had gone near me until the smear. Not nice.
    Be brave xxx


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