Monday, July 18, 2016

Microblog Mondays: On Being Adaptable

When evaluating a child for intellectual disabilities, one of the developmental milestones I ask about is the child developing a sense of privacy and personal decency. Whenever I ask this question, memories of babysitting preschoolers make me smile: Little kids streaking through the house with only a towel around their neck as a cap, standing at the top of the stairs naked and calling out my name, or barging in when I am in the bathroom.

Then this developmental milestone all goes out the window when a you undress from the pants down, spread your legs, and allow someone to stick a wand up your vagina and stare at your insides from a computer screen.

I had my baseline ultrasound this week to make sure everything looked okay and my lining wasn't too thick. My clinic doesn't always do this for individuals taking the pill, but I was an exception because even while on the pill I hadn't actually bled for the past four months. Yes, ladies and gentleman, it's true that pregnancy and childbirth doesn't always solve PCOS and menstrual irregularity. Not surprisingly, my lining was "in the gray area" with it being thicker then they would ideally like but not thick enough to actually induce a period. We will proceed as planned.

Prior this lining check, I hadn't dropped trou since giving birth to our daughter 20 months ago. I was struck by how it felt just as awkward as the first time I had a vaginal ultrasound. I didn't expect this because the last time someone was up in my business I had absolutely no sense of decency. Childbirth will do that to you. Especially childbirth that follows over two years of people regularly invading your sense of privacy with ultrasounds, inseminations, retrievals, transfers, more ultrasounds, and then eventually cervical checks.

So it turns out that our sense of privacy and personal decency is a developmental milestone that, once developed, can be foregone for goals that are more important (i.e. pregnancy and healthy childbirth) but then returns back to baseline when the competing goals are gone. We are taught to protect our personal privacy, then forced to learn to tolerate having this repeatedly violated, then return to the deeply entrenched privacy sense that we developed as children. So here I am now, back to the need to desensitize myself to this. I anticipate this won't take long. It fascinates me how quickly we humans adapt to our surrounding and what is required of us.


  1. This is so interesting. It's true -- when I was giving birth, I had no problem letting a crowd of medical students watch because I was in such pain that I was like, "yes, yes, whatever you want." But now, I don't even like my legs uncovered!

  2. We can totally desensitize ourselves! Transvaginal u/s doesn't bother me much, but I think that's in part because I don't let myself think too much about it. Also I really hate holding urine so in some ways I find it easier than the external test. I find I have to steel mystl to do medical tests in general because while the tests themselves don't usually bother me, they challenge my sense of myself as a whole, healthy person. I start to feel like a collection of faulty parts which is an affront to my self-image..

  3. I remember my doctor and her student poking around inside when I had one of my ectopic pregnancies. I was apparently a good teaching example, and it didn't bother me. I was quite desensitized! Over ten years later, an invasive examination by a gynaecologist was worse than anything I'd had when I was going through infertility. I'd had ten years of nothing but the regular smear test, and then suddenly was up in the stirrups. It was a real shock to my system! I hope the transition isn't too hard for you.

    Recently I broke my ankle, and when the surgeons brought students in, and asked for permission for them to watch the surgery, I must have looked dumbfounded - it was only my ankle!