Normal is a dangerous word.
The first time I was told my pelvic floor symptoms were ‘normal’ for post-birth, I was relieved. The second time, I was sceptical. By the third time, I felt silenced.
I first suspected all was not right when I was back in hospital a few days post-birth.
“Lie back and imagine you are on a beach,” the doctor had said, brandishing a speculum. I was terrified. My birth experience had been anything but positive, and here I was again, in the same hospital, lying prone, feeling helpless. I braced myself.
I needn’t have worried: I didn’t feel a thing.
I didn’t feel a THING. I literally had no idea that the examination had started or indeed had finished.
I assumed that must just be how it is once you’ve given birth. I assumed everyone had a ‘dragging’ sensation when they walked, or felt like their insides were going to fall out the first time they tried running again. Or that everyone in my postnatal pilates class was lying when they said they could hold their pelvic floor exercises for 10 seconds. (Ten whole seconds! It seemed like a lifetime.)
I became anxious about things that had never crossed my mind before giving birth: always checking my proximity to a bathroom, shying away from being touched, even the idea of using something as everyday as a tampon filled me with fear.
We all dread being told we’re not normal, but for me it was a huge turning point in my recovery. I was referred to a private women’s health physio, who confirmed I had pelvic organ prolapse. I hadn’t felt so confident in months. Finally someone had heard me. And, even more importantly, because I’d been heard, I could then be helped.
Slowly, but surely, I worked my way up to those 10 long seconds. (Thankyou, Squeezy app!) Nearly 2 years on, my insides stay put when I run. And I never want to be called ‘normal’ again.