real life

From a toilet accident to a racy pregnancy: 5 women's stories of embracing the 'awkward'.

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Thanks to our brand partner, Tena

I went for two years not wearing jeans. Two lots of winters. Not to mention the in-between seasons where a 'dressy top and jeans' is pretty much the standard uniform for a night out.

Why, you might ask? Because I had outgrown mine. If I laid down flat on my bed and sucked in like I was removing all of the oxygen out of my body I could do them up, just.

But when I stood up I had more than a muffin top, it was more like a parachute top. Not to mention the difficulty in breathing or sitting problem.

So, I created my very own private jeans protest. I wasn't allowed to wear jeans until I could comfortably wear my own.

This year, after a month of winter I had finally had enough. I just wanted to wear some jeans. So, I went to a shop and found some stretchy, high-waisted jeans in the next size up and bought two pairs in different colours. I felt amazing. All that angst, all that self-punishment because I didn't want to buy the next size up.

Really ridiculous when the only person who sees the size tag is me. Also, we are all so much more than a size tag. 

Now I tell anyone who listens: "Just buy the bigger jeans."

Image: Supplied. 

There are lots of little moments like this that we face as women, every day. Little moments where we second-guess ourselves just because of something natural about our bodies that society likes to make 'awkward'.

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Well, we're not having it. We don't need to feel awkward about talking about our periods or incontinence or anything to do with our physicality. It just is, and you get on with it.

So, in the spirit of owning these moments, I spoke to five other women about the body moments they've owned. From weak bladders to pregnancy sex, the more honest, the better…

"I started peeing my pants after having my third child." - Fiona, 39

For mum-of-three Fiona, she had "made it through two kids without having any bodily issues", she tells Mamamia

"After delivering my third child, my body did not recover immediately. Or maybe it was age catching up with me?

"All I know is that one moment I'm freely laughing all the time, and the next moment, I am literally peeing my pants at a clever ad on TV."

While post-baby bladder leakage is quite common, Fiona says it took her by surprise.

"Thinking it was a once-off, but still worried, I stifled my laughter for a while. Which, to be honest, felt unfair," she admits.

"When you have three kids, you don't have time for pity parties. So I decided to get some TENA pads with my next weekly shop. I'm ashamed to admit it, but as I put them in the trolley, hiding them under the eggs, I thought about how ridiculous I was being."

With each shop, she's become less shy about hiding them, saying: "Here is evidence of my three beautiful kids. Here is evidence of what my body has done as a mother."

"A night of sex landed me in hospital... at 36 weeks' pregnant." - Ilana, 37.

Image: Supplied. 

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For Ilana it was when she was 36 weeks pregnant and she had long overdue sex with her husband.

"It was great. I had multiple orgasms and thought to myself '36 weeks pregnant, still got it'," she tells Mamamia.

Turns out, her body had a strong reaction to all the stimulation.

"I started to feel some cramps that felt like the beginning of labour which turned into actual contractions, so we rushed to the ER," Ilana recalls. "I was hooked up to a monitor and not being full term, the doctors and nurses were concerned and asked what I had been doing in the lead up."

"Before I knew it, I was confessing my lack of connection I had been feeling and wanting to have sex with my husband, detailing every blow-by-blow of the positions and number of orgasms."

"I was told that they wanted to measure my cervix but were reluctant to 'fiddle around up there any more' and I was warned if this didn't result in labour I was told 'not to fornicate again'."

Fortunately, the contractions subsided, and she didn't go into active labour that night.

Still feeling mortified and a sense of shame the next day about having to overshare the details of her sex life with a room of medical people and feeling like she had put her baby at risk, she confided in her girlfriends on a group message.

"Hearing how funny they found it made me able to laugh at myself," she said. "I realised embarrassing moments are better shared with girlfriends and it was a great story to embarrass [my son] with at his 21st birthday."

"I wouldn't go out without straightening my hair." - Nama, 44.

Image Suppled. 

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For Nama it was her journey of embracing her natural hair.

"I've been straightening my curly hair all my life, so much so that when I began wearing it naturally a couple of years ago, my family was sure I'd had a perm," she tells Mamamia.

So why do we do this? "There's an inherent, totally subconscious way we think about hair; it shouldn't ever be frizzy, should look sleek and neat, and straightening it is the best way to achieve that. And I don't think that's just something we naturally think; it's what many of us are led to believe."

The defining moment for Nama was during lockdown.

"I decided I needed to embrace my curls and finally see a curly hair specialist and embrace my natural hair," she says. "It was a game-changer."

Now, Nama is proud to wear her hair in curls.

"I laughed so hard I peed in front of my colleagues." - Claudia, 28

Like Fiona earlier in this piece, Claudia's awkward moment revolved around bodily fluids.

"I was in our break room at work and my colleague told us the funniest anecdote I had ever heard ending with a distressed friend taking too much Xanax and whisky mid-international flight," she tells Mamamia.

"My other co-worker and I were in hysterics.

"I was clutching my body knowing what was to come. Panicked, I yelled out with no hesitation, 'You made me pee!'

"Distressing as it seemed, there was no shame in owning it. My candidness invoked zero judgement that day."

The lesson she learned that day? "Be honest and less hard on yourself - you will be surprised."

Now, tell us. What's an awkward moment with your body that you've owned? How have you flipped the situation? Share with us below.

*Indicates names have been changed

Feature image: Annaliese Dent/Nama Winston

Tena
TENA has been developing innovative products to manage incontinence for over sixty years – no wonder it’s the world’s number one adult incontinence brand1. Still a taboo subject, incontinence affects 37% of Australian women2 of varying ages and life stage, often impacting their confidence, daily activities and social relationships. However, there are steps you can take to improve, even stop leaks, and in the meantime there’s TENA. In addition to products, we have advice on prevention, improvement and management, because we believe that incontinence should never get in the way of you being you. Find out more at TENA.com.au 1 Euromonitor International Limited; Retail Adult Incontinence, all channels, RSP value sales, Tissue & Hygiene, 2020 edition 2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, 2006 - https://www.continence.org.au/about-us/our-work/key-statistics
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