Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vaginal Re-education

It has been over two months since a very large object (Colette) came out a very small exit (my vagina). Not everyone likes to talk about the gory mechanics of childbirth and recovery, but I will tell you who does, the French! That's who!

I was wandering through the fabric shops in Marché St Pierre with my mother last week when a sales woman stopped me to tell me how beautiful she thought Colette was. We began to chat and she asked me how old Coco is, I told her two months. "Two months? But she's enormous!" she exclaimed. I smiled politely and continued to look through the bolts of floral fabric. "If you are making a dress you are really going to need a lot of yardage... oh la la she is just so big!"*. I smiled less politely this time. After a brief pause she then leaned over and whispered, "And the birth? I mean were you able to push her out yourself or..." she trailed off while waggling her fingers in the direction of my private parts. "Well it was a tight fit but here she is!" I replied laughing uncomfortably as I backed out of the store trying to translate this exchange into English to my mother's horror.

*For those that have not yet met my child let me just say that she is not THAT big.

Once the baby is out the French healthcare system makes sure you have time to rest and bond with your baby. Most maternity leaves last about 12 weeks and can be extended if you are breastfeeding, tired or generally unwell. But for most, once they hit the two month mark the French system tells them that the honeymoon period is over and it is time to start getting your life back in order. By the time your child is three months old daycare kicks in, your job expects you to return and your rééducation périnéale (reeducation of your perineum) is well under way.

The government funds a minimum of ten sessions with a physical therapist to help you squeeze and contract your way back to a taught and muscular perineum in order to, amongst other things, get your sex life back on track so that you can produce another little French tax payer. As you may recall, my tailbone caused little Coco to get stuck on her way out. Thanks to the handy work of Willy the Baby Whisperer she eventually made her down the birth canal and out into the world but not without a few bumps along the way. So my first stop on this educational odyssey was the osteopath's office. Claude, an osteopath and mid-wife at Groupe de Naissance, spent an hour with me discussing the birth and examining me. Her conclusion, "Mary I think you need to forgive your vagina. I can see that you were disappointed by the performance of your perineum muscles during the birth but you need to move past that. You need to reconcile yourself and the best way to do that is through massage and meditation." Ohhh-kay.

Next stop was at my mid-wife's office. Sylvie was going to be my coach during this reeducation process. The first session was composed of two parts, massage and visualization. The massage bit was fairly straight forward but the visualization bit was, well, a little out there. "Close your eyes Mary," Sylvie began, "Now imagine that your vagina is a beautiful château. And at the entrance of this château is a draw bridge. Mary, can you see the bridge Mary? Great. Now try to slowly lift that bridge up and close the door." Riiiiight. I now have to do this 3 times a day for the next 3 weeks.

I'll report back.


lazy susie said...

Oh, I can't wait to hear more about this! In all my studies of the French, I've never run across talk of vaginal health and well-being.

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

This was an absolute riot to read! Too, too funny.

Hey -- good luck with that re-education of your vajayjay. Sounds like a gas. And thanks to this post, I will never look at the word "château" in quite the same way again! :D

Matt said...

I totally get the big baby complex. :)

Amber said...

So that's what all the mystery is about. I'm weeks away from passing a rather large object through my own castle door and the talk about re-education is all very hush-hush. Your post gave me a good laugh but it's also making me wonder if it's actually worthwhile.

Madame Bouron said...

Next installment of re-education is coming up next week, I will keep you posted Susie! Amber, you are so right! They keep it all very mysterious. Even now I don't fully understand all the various pieces to the process. I have heard of ladies being given prescriptions for battery operated devices... and ladies that have been hooked up to some sort of muscle zapping machine that pulses you back in to shape. Hopefully Sylvie's subtle approach will do the trick but it is nice to know that there are bigger guns out there! Thanks for your cheers of encouragement Karin :)

Barb said...

I can barely type this, between gasps for breath after laughing so hard I almost peed. Mary!