My Bladder Has Fallen And I Can’t Get Up! Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me About Cystocele?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read everything I could. But, one thing no one told me was that one possible side effect of childbirth could be that my bladder may someday fall out of its normal resting spot inside my body.

Now before I send any of my pregnant readers into a tizzy, please note that this condition, known as cystocele, is fairly uncommon, especially among younger women. But, if you have ever needed a reason to kegel, keep reading.

By the way, if you are male, heed my warning and stop now. Go watch something on Tivo or make a snack.

OK. . .all clear?

Here’s the scoop:

It was another ordinary night in the Fairly Odd household in spring ’04. Fairly Odd Father was enjoying a night out with the boys to see the Boston Bruins. I was four months pregnant with my third child. Belly was three and Jilly had just turned a year old.

I decided to give the girls a bath, so I got the water in the tub ready. But, as I lifted them into the tub, I felt an odd sensation. It was if something was sliding out of me. Not painful, just not right. I had visions of me birthing my baby right then and there, on the bathroom floor. I thought about an ex-coworker who told the story of how her mother knew she was about to birth her twins when she looked down and saw a leg coming out. “I hope I don’t see a leg” was all my brain could muster.

(deep breath)

I then reached down and pushed something back up into my body. Something squishy and fleshy and not a baby leg. I suppose I should be so very thankful of that fact.

Miraculously, I had brought the phone into the bathroom with me, and dialed my OB/GYN’s number with shaking fingers. I got the answering service and will never forget the poor guy who had to answer my call. “Excuse me, what is happening?” I’m not sure what he said to my OB/GYN, but 60 seconds hadn’t passed before my OB was calling me back.

I answered his questions:

* no, no blood (thank goodness)
* yes, it seems to be up there again, although I am lying down with my head propped up so I can see my two babies who are still in the tub
not having any contractions or anything to indicate I’m going into labor

I thought I’d soon hear an ambulance driving up to take me to the ER, but instead he told me to take it easy, go to bed and come in first thing the next morning.

Really? Well, OK!

Except, not OK, because I still had my two girls stranded in the tub (there was no way I was going to try to lift them), and a husband at least an hour away. So, I called my next-door neighbor who (thankfully) knows us well and had a key to the house. I then called my husband on the phone and turned him a little more gray by blubbering the following into the phone:

“(sob) I need you to come home right now because something is falling out of me but I don’t think it’s the baby but it might be my uterus and (neighbor) is coming to help but I need you home, and I’m freaking out and I need you home (sob).”

My beloved neighbor got the girls out of the tub, ready for bed and tucked in, probably even with a bedtime story, while I lied in my bed and let my mind race. What the heck was going on with my body? Is this my fault for getting pregnant again so close to baby #2? Maybe a VBAC hadn’t been such a great idea. Why hadn’t I done those stupid kegels?

The next morning, I felt better but was scared to do anything that might aggravate things. I got myself to the doctor’s office and went through an exam where he determined that it was probably not my uterus that had fallen, but my bladder. I guess that pushing out my 8 lb, 12 oz Jilly had weakened everything enough that, when a new baby started to sit on top of everything, it made the bladder droop down where it shouldn’t go.

This was unbelievable to me.

“Wait. My bladder can fall out of me like that? Will other organs start falling out too? But, how do some women have 10 kids? Are you saying that all of them have had their bladders fall out of them? Why doesn’t anyone talk about this???”

I will never forget what my OB said to my panicked questions:

“Listen—I’ve seen women who have had 10 kids and no problems, and some have one and—poof!—it all falls apart. But, listen, this isn’t too uncommon. I have little old ladies who shuffle in here all the time with their uterus hanging down to their knees.”

I’m pretty sure I whimpered at this point, thinking briefly of all those little old ladies I had passed shuffling down the halls in the medical center. I sure as hell hope he was joking to take my mind off my own issues.

I was fortunate, though, because my cystocele kind of straightened itself up on its own. Oh, sure, I made sure to sit down more often during the day, especially if that feeling started to come back. But, as my body changed during pregnancy, it seemed to hold everything in place.

I was petrified of what would happen after I pushed out my third, but things were not too bad. D was my biggest baby at just over 9 pounds, but my cystocele came back only mildly after his delivery. I found a wonderful specialist in Urogynocology and paid a few visits to her but we decided to take a “wait and see” approach. My goal was that if I needed surgery to correct things, I wanted to wait until my youngest was at least five years old.

Well, D is 4 1/2, and things seem pretty good. I’m active (hey Shredheads!) and am still crappy at remembering to kegel. I even have a whole set of, um, weights, that I never use, but will probably need to reconsider as my age keeps going up. Although I don’t think I’ll ever top her achievement.

But, I’ll probably never run a 5K again (or a 1K) or do my first triathalon*, which is kind of a bummer, but if I can get through the rest of my days with all of my internal organs staying internal, I’m willing to make some sacrifices.

*UPDATE: On 7/3/12, I ran my first 10K in 1:07 without any cystocele-related issues! My son is now almost eight, and it looks like things corrected themselves over time.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Screw Up S’mores

The Year: Pre-children, sometime between 1997-2000

Fairly Odd Father (FOF), otherwise known as my husband
College Roommate (CR), my beloved college roommate
BFF, my best friend from high school

SigOth, her Significant Other
Shop Clerk 1
Shop Clerk 2

Various Others, including Yours Truly

The Scene: Cast is sitting around a picnic table next to the pond enjoying the early summer air, bellies full of barbeque and beer. Someone mentions S’mores, and the group glances back at the grill whose embers are still glowing pink. The time is approximately 8:30p.m.

Fairly Odd Father and College Roommate jump up: “We’ll get the stuff for S’mores!”

Fifteen minutes later, FOF and CR return from store, park at top of hill and walk down to rest of group eagerly awaiting them at picnic table. A shopping bag is placed in the center of the table and items are pulled out one by one.

First to come out of bag is a box of graham crackers. Next, a bag of marshmallows. Last, a bottle of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup is plunked down on the table.



SigOth (confused): “What the hell is this?”

CR (cheerfully): “It’s chocolate. For the S’mores!


Me (completely bewildered, looking back and forth at these two people I love dearly): “Chocolate SYRUP? For S’mores? Weren’t you guys in Scouts?

Silent weeping.

BFF: “OHMIGOD! What time does that store close? It’s almost 9! Maybe we can still get chocolate bars!

A flurry of activity as BFF and SigOth leap up and run to top of hill in a sprint to get to the store before it closes. Remember we are in the boondocks, where stores do not stay open after 9pm.

New Scene: At little strip of stores in “center” of town. BFF and SigOth burst into Convenience Store and look wildly for candy aisle. Spotting it, they run up to the candy and see that there are no Hershey Bars remaining in any of the slots. They turn and run to the Cashier who is bored and watching the clock.

SigOth: “Chocolate bars! We need chocolate bars! Our friends were just here to get stuff for S’mores and WE NEED CHOCOLATE BARS!!!!

Shop Clerk 1 (who speaks ever so slowly and deliberately): “Hey. . .I remember those two. When they came to the register, I thought, “I sure hope they aren’t trying to make S’mores.” Well. . .we’re out of chocolate bars. But, you could try the pharmacy next door. They close at. . .(they all look up at clock as the minute hand clicks to the top position). . .nine”.

BFF and SigOth run out the door as if on fire and grab handle of pharmacy door. They pull and. . .it is locked.

SigOth starts to pound on door, yelling, “PLEASE!!! Please open the door! It’s an EMERGENCY! We need CHOCOLATE!!!!”

Shop Clerk 2 appears at door and turns key. He opens door a crack and says, “Can I help you?”

SigOth: “PLEASE! Our friends are idiots! They don’t know how to make S’mores and we need chocolate bars! Please! Just some chocolate!”

Shop Clerk 2: “I’m sorry. The register is already closed.”

SigOth, thinking quickly and digging into pocket: “Here!!!! Take twenty! Don’t worry about change! Please!”

Shop Clerk 2: “Um. . .okay.”

BFF and SigOth run into store, scoop up a dozen Hershey Bars, thank Shop Clerk 2 profusely and return to gang at picnic table. Friends cheer arrival of chocolate bars and happily begin making S’mores.

Spotlight slowly comes to focus on FOF as he bites into a freshly-made S’more and realizes he hates them and will now have to endure S’more jokes for the rest of his life.


Curtain closes.

Getting a Colonoscopy, or How to Survive a Booty Call

Many of us spend a lot of time worrying about our butt:Is it too big? Too flat? Too wide? Does my ass look too big in these jeans? (don’t answer that too quickly, mister).

I daresay, though, that most of us do not spend much time thinking about ye olde colon.

This is a shame since colorectal cancer strikes an equal amount of women as it does men. The kicker? This cancer is one of the most easily prevented cancers.

In September ’07, I thought a heck of a lot about my colon because I had a colonoscopy. Although the general recommendation is that people start getting colonoscopies at the age of 50, I was told to start ten years earlier due to a family history of this disease. Some people should start getting screened as young as 30 depending on their risk factors.

The idea of getting a colonoscopy scares a lot of people. I’ve talked to many whose reaction is, “There is no way anyone is sticking a tube up my butt!” So, when I had to get one myself, I decided to write about it so that some people could learn what a real procedure was like.

And, in honor of March being National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month (NCRCAM\ for ‘short’), I will republish my thoughts from that September for those of you who are still thinking, “There is no way. . .”.

Day One: The Prep

I’ve had a few disgusting things happen to me in my life but nothing could quite prepare me for tonight.

I’m preparing for my first-ever colonoscopy, and thought that the worst part of it would be the procedure in the morning.

But, after fasting all day long and then drinking 80 ounces of somewhat thick, salty-sweet liquid, I’ve changed my mind.

I am dreaming of food and, inexplicably, unable to watch anything on TV but Top Chef and The Food Network. I almost licked the television screen when they made a muffaletta, despite the fact that I rarely eat any meat.

I’m dreaming of food even during the “cleansing”, which is pretty remarkable.

Oh, the cleansing. If you’ve ever been told you are full of shit, well, you are. You are full of more shit than you think is possible.

I am astounded by this, and hungry. And probably 10 pounds lighter. Wait, let me go check that one. . .

Nope, dammit, exactly the same weight. How is that possible???

The good news is that despite all the rumbling in my belly and the running to the bathroom, there is no pain, no stomach cramps. This isn’t like have a stomach bug that keeps you tied to the toilet, sweating and praying for relief. It’s relatively easy, but a little messy. Next time I’m wearing ear plugs so I don’t have to listen.

OK, all appears to be quiet in the belly region. I’m off to bed to dream about muffaletta and bagels and goat cheese and french fries and ice cream.

Day Two: The Procedure

After complaining about last night, I feel kind of silly posting tonight.

I think I get it now. . .prepping for a colonoscopy: kind of yucky; having the actual colonoscopy: as easy as taking a nap.

Seriously, once the sedatives were put into my body, I disappeared into la-la land, waking only to think, “Oh, this must be the beginning”, but hearing the doctor say, “All done!”

I had planned to chat throughout the entire procedure, a la Katie Couric. Instead, I probably snored.

Once I had regained consciousness, I was relieved to hear that all looked good—one polyp was removed and will be biopsied, but this is apparently pretty common. I was on my feet and scarfing down an egg-and-cheese bagel sandwich before Fairly Odd Father’s car drove us out of the parking lot.

One benefit of the fasting? It allowed me to see what a flat stomach looks like. Either that, or I hallucinated due to lack of food.

I am a bit worried that the first half of the post may have convinced some people never to have a colonoscopy, so I will attempt to convince those of you who feel this way.

First, fasting isn’t THAT bad. You can eat popsicles, jello and drink soda! You can feel virtuous, like “my body is my temple and I will not eat for a whole day!” Plus, after I got through the night, I was no longer hungry in the morning (that is, until the bagel sandwich appeared in front of me).

Second, here is a tip for drinking down glass after glass of HalfLytely (the stuff that will ‘cleanse’ your system): pretend you are in college, at a bar. Grab your glass like a shot and drink it all—yes, all 8 ounces at once (you know you could do this at one time). As soon as the glass is empty, grab a piece of lime and suck it. The lime wipes away all the nasty taste from your mouth, plus you can almost pretend you just drank a tequila shot. If the fasting is going well, you’ll be a bit dizzy anyway, so the illusion of drinking is there. If you repeat this every ten minutes, you will be finished with the solution in less than an hour and a half.

Third, make sure you have NO responsibilities after 6pm. Lock yourself in your bedroom and keep the path to the bathroom open. Watch tv, read, play on the computer, whatever. Light lots of candles in the bathroom for odor control. When you feel the rumbling, run for the bathroom. Repeat this until the rumbling quiets down. I was still able to get a decent night’s sleep, with minimal interruption.

Finally, schedule your appointment for first-thing in the morning. My appointment was at 8am, and I was out of the hospital by 9:30. Just get it over with before you have too much time to wake up and worry about it.

All joking aside, do me one favor: ask your parents when they had their last colonoscopy, and if you are 50 or older (or 40 with family history), ask yourself. The procedure is so easy, mostly painless and quick. Colorectal cancer, on the other hand is a horrible, terribly painful disease, and yet preventable with regular screenings.

I lost my dad to colorectal cancer when he was only 63 years old and that was partly because he let too much time pass between his appointments. Don’t let too much time pass for you.


Much of this post was published in September 2007 and then republished on New England Mamas in March 2008. For those of you who read the original posts and should’ve gotten a colonoscopy that year, this is your reminder.