You know a part of pregnancy no one really talks about but a lot of mums experience? Haemorrhoids and anal fissures. Yes, I’m going there, you may want to put down your coffee, delay your snack, this post is going to talk about my bottom. Repeatedly. Wait till you see the photos!
I can understand why no one really talks about these things, they’re not exactly coffee catch up chat material are they. “Hey Em, hows your bum been?” is not how most conversations start. But, they happen, and to those they happen to, they are a huge part of their day to day life. So maybe we do need to start talking about them a little more.
My experience with haemorrhoids started towards the end of my pregnancy. I went to the doctor, sent by my beautician of all people who thought I had a skin tag, but thought it a good idea to get it checked out. My doctor, almost gleefully informed me I had haemorrhoids. “Oh hun’ she said ‘your pregnancy is going to be interesting”.
I was gutted. I really hadn’t thought that was what it was. Someone had once described haemorrhoids to me as a ‘bunch of grapes hanging out of your arse’. This wasn’t a bunch of grapes . . . more like a deflated currant. She also said it seemed I had an anal fissure and sent me off to a specialist.
Anal fissures. Some people need me to elaborate a bit when I mention these. Basically, they are a crack or tear in the anus. They are nasty bloody things. Not something you want to Google image, although neither are haemorrhoids to be honest. Such an abrupt word; anal. So blunt. Backwards, its really pretty – Lana. I have a friend called Lana, well, I had a friend called Lana, but she might disown me after using her name in the same sentence as ‘anal’. Sorry babe, please still love me.
Anyway, staying on topic, I’ve mentioned before how your vagina becomes public property during pregnancy . . . well so too it seems, does your bum. My proctologist was lovely. I wasn’t sure what to expect, meeting someone who had decided to study bums all day for a living, but he was polite, friendly and made me feel at ease. No small feat considering. He had a look and he was stunned.
“This is nasty’ he said, ‘you have a decent fissure, it must hurt when you go for a poo”.
”Well yeah, I bleed every time’, I replied, ‘I’ve just gotten used to it I guess”.
“You must have a high pain tolerance, why have you not done anything about this sooner?”.
Good question, why hadn’t I done anything about this sooner? Why had I thought it was normal to be in pain and bleed after a hard poo? I am not sure. It was a mixture of things, a bit of embarrassment about what it was, a bit of thinking, ‘well what can they do anyway’. A bit of ‘if I ignore it, maybe it will go away’. If I could go back in time, I’d march my pre-pregnancy self to the doctors and get it looked at a lot sooner.
Unfortunately, as I was pregnant when I finally saw someone about it, there was nothing to be done (apart from drink lots of water and eat lots of kiwifruit to prevent constipation). We agreed I would be in touch a few weeks after bub was born.
Lots of women talk about being scared to go to the toilet the first time after giving birth. Wondering if your bits still work, wondering how much it’s going to hurt. I was a bit nervous, my nerves were about having a pee as I had a wide shallow tear. And yes it stung a bit, but, it wasn’t too bad at all.
My first poo was a different story. I hadn’t been for a number 2 for at least 4 days after Ziggy was born and I was at home when the familiar urge overcame me. “Bye babe’ I said, ‘see you in half an hour.”
I was so constipated nothing happened. I sat there, my stomach hurting and my body trying to do what it needed to do nothing happened. After a few minutes, things started happening and I screamed. Holy shit it hurt! It felt like my bum was being ripped in two. AJ came running down the corridor; “are you okay” he asked. I replied with a strangled ‘arhhgghhhrrrrhh’ sound and kept at it. It was horrible. It took over half an hour to have my first poo and by the end of it I was a crying bleeding mess. I limped out of the bathroom, washed my hands, washed my face and downed another two panadol.
I called my midwife and through my tears told her I was constipated and could she help. I also asked if it was the ‘two every 4 hours’ rotating cocktail of panadol and nurofen I had been on since Ziggy was born (first for the after birth pains, and now for my burning nipples) that had caused such compacted constipation. She didn’t think so, codine can cause constipation but I had none of that. She wrote me a script and told me to keep hydrated, drink as much water as I could, and hopefully that would help.
It helped, a little. I went from a type 1 to a type 2 on the Bristol Stool scale. I dreaded every trip to the toilet. The pain was intense, for me it was worse than labour. At least at the end of labour you get a reward, there is no reward to be had after a poo. I was a wreck. I hurt, I couldn’t sit down properly for 5 hours after every ordeal. The fissure was one thing, that would rip open and I would bleed, but what compounded things was the haemorrhoid. It would swell up, change from a deflated currant to a plump grape, red, inflamed and the steroid cream I had for it was having little effect. The panadol and nurofen wasn’t cutting it. I couldn’t take codine as that would just make me more constipated, I couldn’t take tramadol as that was an opiate and I was breastfeeding. I couldn’t even have a cone. I’d run shallow cold water baths and hover in them, I’d feed Ziggy lying on my side. I moped around the house with a miserable look on my face because I felt miserable.
When Ziggy was nearly 5 weeks old I called my Proctologist’s office. “I need to come in’ I said, ‘It’s pretty bad”. She made an appointment for the following day and off I hobbled. I knew the drill, pants off, up on the table, on my side, hold up my cheek, exposed for the world to see. I didn’t care, I was so over it I just didn’t give two flying fucks that once again my bottom was out on display. He tried to have a look, I winced as soon as he touched me, then started crying. “Oh dear’ he said, ‘It’s really bad isn’t it. Let me see what I can do”.
As I straightened myself up he made some phone calls. “Do you have health insurance” he asked. ‘Yes” I replied. ‘That’s good’ he said, ‘we have space tomorrow. You’re going in for surgery”.
Part Two has now been published.
Part Three has now been published.
Part Four and I hope this is it!