health

"The day my labia exploded."

Simonne Michelle Wells
Simonne Michelle Wells

 

By SIMONNE MICHELLE WELLS

*Editor’s Note: If you have had trouble conceiving or are currently undergoing IVF, this story may be upsetting for you.

I think a part of me always knew I would end up on a long and winding road to motherhood. I never had much faith in my bits.

I had horrendous periods from age 13 that lasted weeks on end. I’ve had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome for the past 14 years, and I didn’t meet my true love (happy sigh) until I was 34.

I was almost 36 when we started trying to get pregnant. Six months later we were told we needed to do IVF

I barreled my way through IVF, assuring all and sundry, including myself, that I was fine, it was fine, and I had no idea why anyone ever complained about IVF.

That included when I got Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (yes yes, I do love a good syndrome) and basically felt like a cow with giant internal udders. Turns out I had 40 follicles. 40. That’s a lot.

The upside of strung out ovaries is that we got a lot of eggs and a decent amount of viable embryos. We did three unsuccessful rounds of IVF and that was what brought my ‘I’m fine’ mantra crashing down around me, from which I didn’t recover for almost two years.

Artificial insemination.
They were about to try IVF again, when it happened
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That was two years ago, almost to the day. I’m now 40 and time is seriously a-waistin’. There’s no more time for breakdowns, so we recently started again by doing another round.

We used two more of our precious embryos and again had no success. I cried non-stop for days. I’m thinking this is probably much more healthy than my previous lock-jawed railing against my emotions.

Then, last month, as we were about to try again…

My labia exploded.

Allow me to explain. It seems that an aspersioned-against fallopian tube is a wrathful fallopian tube and mine had been biding its time.

My already dodgy left tube got heinously swollen and infected and then twisted. A fallopian tube torsion is no picnic. It was so painful I bolted to the one place I avoid like the plague – hospital.

The next chapter in the evil fallopian tube story consists of me being given copious amounts of morphine that didn’t take the pain away but shut my bowel down quicker than you can say “oh-oh”. This was followed by my first ever over-night stay in hospital and an encounter with what the nurse called an “aggressive” enema. (She told me this after she gave it to me.) Let’s just say, I think I met god in the toilet that day.

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After a few weeks of intensive antibiotics it was time for surgery to remove the offending tube. This time I had a much better idea of what to expect, but nothing ever really goes according to plan, does it?

First my bladder refused to work and the pain that accompanied that felt worse than the fallopian tube torsion and I was wondering if perhaps I should’ve just kept my twisted tube and to hell with everyone. Then the I’ve-been-pumped-full-of-gas pains kicked in and I couldn’t lie flat, or, you know, breathe.

Three days of lying still from the bladder pain likely made the gas stuff worse and on the third day as I sat on the toilet doing my thimble full of painful pee, I realised it wasn’t going straight down, but sort of sluicing off to the left.

I leaned on the bathroom sink while my 6”3 husband crouched his big frame on the tiles and looked up at my junk. I think this is a good time to inform you that Angel-husband is the most even-keeled, un-dramatic man who ever walked this green earth. Angel-husband looked at my junk, and with his head still between my legs, very calmly said “honey I think there’s a small problem here, maybe you should have a look”.

This got me panicking. In my book, a ‘small problem’ for Mr. Even-Keeled could be anything from – you’re haemorrhaging, to the world is ending. Bending down was out of the question so Angel-husband passed me a mirror. Dear GOD, the horror of it. My right labia was so enormous it basically obliterated the rest of my bits which were squashed over to the left, pointing upward.

MY VAGINA WAS UPSIDE-DOWN.

I stared at my husband’s blonde head. What do you mean a small problem?! My labia has exploded!!! LOOOOOK at it!!! Angel-husband looked again and assured me it wasn’t that bad, or that big. I didn’t know whether to knight him or thump him. I chose instead to wail like a banshee. My FLAP, my FLAP, my FLAAAAAP!!

Exploding labiaAngel-husband assisted me back to bed, likely wishing he could drown me in Valium, or just knock me out for a few days, but instead said soothing things I now can’t remember.

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We rang my surgeon’s office and I had to explain my exploding labia problem to her PA. It was an interesting conversation. The PA contacted my surgeon and called me back to tell me it was likely just trapped gas, and it wasn’t that unusual.

GAS, IN MY FLAP. GAS!

I lay in bed wondering about how the gas had made its way to my flap in the first place. I texted my girlfriend who was in a meeting at work. Blessed be to girlfriends who used to be nurses who can text about exploding flaps and be in a work meeting at the same time. I asked her if she thought my flaps were going to fall off. She replied that it was unlikely and informed me it was the first time in her life she’d ever been in a meeting while texting about gassy flaps. I’m always happy to provide someone I love with a virgin experience.

The gas did disappear like my surgeon said it would. I’ve never looked at my vag in a mirror as much as I did for those few days. As for Angel-husband, he took it all in his long stride, as per usual. He remains to this day, totally and utterly… unflappable. Our IVF journey continues.

And just for the sake of it, here’s a gallery of things that look like vaginas!

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Simonne works in philanthropic fundraising in the health sector and writes in her spare time. She has one bad novel under the bed, one good novel still unpublished, and another one just begun. She has had several short stories published in literary journals and has been writing for Australian Stage Online for the past five years. Simonne has always been open about her IVF journey and wishes anyone going through their own IVF experience all the love and luck in the world.

Any horror stories – or trials and tribulations – from your experience of IVF? Or the IVF experience of someone you know? Share your war stories here – us ladies have got to stick together. 

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