Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Puss in Boots*

Yesterday I went to see my obstetrician for my normal 5 month check-up - happy to report baby is fine.
What follows is a post about me visiting the ob/gyn. If you don't want to go there, turn away now, as there is exactly where I'm going.


I am also interspersing this post with completely irrelevant pictures from our garden as the alternative is to use relevant photos, and no one wants that.


As this was my third time at the ob/gyn, I had the routine down pat - I wore my long skirt and boots. The first time I visited I wore jeans; big mistake. But let me back up a bit and tell you what going to the gynaecologist's in Australia entails (just so you can understand what my expectations were).


I have been to three different obstetricians and about 8 different gynaecologists in my life (no, I don't have a problem, I just move a lot). They all went something like this:

Come in, shoot the breeze a bit, doctor ask a few questions about contraception, births, etc to establish history. Then you head over to the examination table, which has a curtain all the way around it. You go in, shut the curtain, take off your clothes from the waist down, lay on the table and cover your nether-regions with the provided towel/small sheet. The doctor asks if you are ready, then comes through the curtain, lifts the business end of the towel and does what they need to do.


It's a little different in France. After our initial chat we went into another room behind the room with his desk, filing cabinet etc. First thing I notice is the chair. No examination table, it's a chair, with stirrups for holding your legs up and open in a most embarrassing way.


Beyond the chair is another small room, which I can see is an ensuite bathroom. The doctor tells me I can go in there and strip from the waist down. I do so, and look all around the bathroom for a towel, sheet, anything. I entertain using the paper hand towel to make a little mini skirt, then just open the door a crack and ask him if there is a something I can use to cover myself. He smiles and says no, adding les françaises don't bother with that.


Right. Excellent. So, I open the door and there I am, bottomless in a small room with a man I have just met.


With poise I walk to the chair, before which the doctor is now seated on a rolling chair of his own. His chair is low. Fanny height you might say. The chair I have to sit on is high. So high there is a step I must negotiate before then getting into the examination chair. Have you ever climbed up onto something high while wearing no pants and a stranger sits on a low seat in front of you? Well, I've never worked at Shanahan's All-Night Beef and Titty Bar, so it was a new experience for me.


I told myself not to worry, this man looks at ten va-j-js a day, just sit down and get on with it.
Once I was settled, legs hooked over in the 'hello boys' position, the doctor told me my first ultrasound with him would be an internal ultrasound.


What in the what now? Ultrasounds so far (please note I have had three, count them, three children already) entail some gel on the tummy and a transducer run over my belly. Nothing internal about it.


The doc then picks up the wand which is attached to the ultrasound equipment.  My God, that thing looks like a relay baton.

Alright, maybe I'm embellishing a bit.

He pulls out a latex glove and work one of the fingers over the end of the wand. He gives it a healthy squirt of lubricant (because there is ALWAYS time for lubricant**) and then advances toward me. At this stage I'll admit I thought about running. Then I remembered I was not wearing any pants.

Well played, monsieur, I thought, as I squeezed my eyes shut. You win this round.


It was as awkward and uncomfortable as you might expect, but greatly offset by seeing my baby for the first time and hearing that racing little heart beat.

'Everything looks wonderful ... normal', he said as he retreated, not even offering me a cigarette.


Later, with my clothes and dignity restored, he told me something equally awesome. 'No, you don't have to stop eating cheese. All cheeses are fine; soft, ripe, whatever, just make sure they have been properly refrigerated and handled." All was forgiven between us.


Now, I wear my long skirt and boots to my appointments. I can whip off my undies in the bathroom and stroll to the chair fully covered, hiking the skirt up once I have myself in the position.

Much better.

* Do you get it? Is that title too risqué? It is isn't it? Sorry.

** There's always time for lubricant:


  1. Oh wow....

    My visits to the doctor are NOTHING like that!

    I'm beginning to think I might be missing out on something?

    All the best


  2. Oh Kirsty, NO WAY! Who'd have ever thought we Aussie girls could be accused of being modest huh? Perhaps it's our English heritage from way back. You paint a very detailed picture girl! I am sitting here reading back over it, quietly horrified (and laughing uncontrollably!). Much prefer our way of doing things! Great story. Took me a while to find asterisk #1, too funny when I did! You are a crack up. Ros x

  3. Great post title:) Part of the fun of living overseas is discovering all the cultural differences. Guess there are some you could do without. Good luck!

  4. OMG! That is the funniest story and yeah, I thought our checkups were bad :O

    The title is way funny, and I remember that scene, hilarious!

    On a serious note, so happy all is well on the belly front.

  5. I had my two girls in France, so what is normal for me is here. How nice it would be to have a little more privacy!

  6. It is the same in Italy, it is too embarassing even thinking of it (I had 4 kids myself).
    Now I have a lady gyn and wonder why I never had one. Not only I feel much more at ease, but women's hands are much gentler.

  7. OMG! I am sitting here crying in my office because I'm laughing so hard! And I thought my gyno appointments in the US were bad...

    Glad to hear that everything is good with the baby though!

    Jennifer :)

    PS... I featured you on my blog today!

  8. Actually, I had some bleeding with my first and went to the ER, in the US, and they did an internal ultrasound at about 7-8 weeks. It's the best way to "see" everything with the baby, especially at an early stage. All the other ultrasounds were the normal ones ;)

  9. OMG!! I have literally just cringed the whole time I was reading your blog post. I am totally feeling so mortified for you. Do they not realise that these things are embarassing enough without making it a thousant times worse?? It shouldn't be allowed to happen like that. That would scar me psychologically for LIFE!

    My blog - Sew Ray Me (no scary gyno talk over there!)

  10. Ah ah, I loved your post! It made me laugh quite a lot! I am French and live in the US now and it surprised me here how people are covering themselves :-)

  11. I just found your blog today (thru That girl...That Quilt) and I laughed so hard I cried! Hysterical for me..not so much for you, but you must be a trouper!
    Thanks for a great abdominal workout!

  12. To be honest, lucielejard, we westerners are far too uptight about nudity, but sadly it's what we are used to. I can imagine our processes would seem strange to you too. We should just take a deep breath, think European and let it all hang out!

  13. Well, from my gynaecologist routine check-up experience in two European countries that all sounds quite "normal" to me ... I'm imagining right now that I would have strolled around half naked during a check-up in the US or Australia for lack of knowing better... :-D Good thing I never went outside of Europe ... :-P

  14. Laugh-out-loud, tears-rolling-down-my-face funny. Sorry, dear, laughing with you, not at you! (You are laughing, right?) Baby is good and that's the main thing, of course.

  15. So funny:) You have a great turn of phrase, keep it up!

  16. Fine, fine, I am so NOT coming. Especially if I'm pregnant (no, I'm not. I hope :)) )

  17. omg Kirsty!! Thanks for the early morning crack up, though coffee has now been inhaled rather than swallowed! the "hello boys" position, I'll be laughing for a week!

    I've had one of the old internal ultrasounds and "what in the what now?" is definitely what went through my head!

  18. Oh wow - so well written- I have had an internal untrasound (in Australia) so could totally relate to your story, love the clip at the end...

  19. You crack me up: I am laughing out loud. Glad all is well with you and baby.

    I must be French. Last time I went for an GYN exam, there was no gown/robe, nothing. I knew what was coming, after having three children myself, so I just took my clothes off and sat on the exam table. When the Dr. finally came in, she was the one who was all flustered. She was not French.

    Just found your blog today, you can be sure I will be back. Thanks again for the laugh.

  20. Sounds perfectly normal to me (I'm from Belgium)! But if I'm ever in Australia, I now know I have to use the towel for something else than cleaning off the gel after an ultrasound.

  21. I would like to thank you for suffering through that to entertain us! Now I don't feel nearly as bad about my gynecologist appointments. My aunt told me to leave my socks on for modesty. I'm glad that I wasn't pregnant when I lived in France! :) I'm glad the baby is doing well.

  22. Seriously, I think this is the funniest thing I will read for the entire year. Oh. My. Lawd.

    I think you were quite possibly a comedian in a former life, my friend ;-)

    Keep the laughs coming! :-)))


  23. ha ha ha ha :) I was laughing so hard that the "mr" had to come in to read what I was reading! I think he was a little shocked ;) FANTASTIC! thanks for yet another great post and jolly good laugh!

  24. Ha love the title! A great read Kirsty, glad all is well. I agree with Ali, that was very nice of you to suffer through that for our entertainment. Thanks!

  25. You are hysterical. I love it. But what is the deal with the non modesty at the doctor here? It was the same for the chest xray...just standing there topless with my skirt and sandals. I have to say I'd take boobs in sandals over puss in boots any day though.
    I thought for a minute you were going to say you were having twins!

  26. O my gosh I was crying from trying to not laugh out loud reading this at work.

    Let me share a quick short story with you - Im an American, moved to Austria the day after I married my German husband. New bride = some female issues, had to go to the hospital it was hurting so bad one evening. There was no bathroom, you just stood there, in front of the doctor, the other doctor, and the nurse, and stripped from the waist down. Walked over, bare bottomed to the chair, sat down, no towel or anything. ... Sounds like your experience right? Gets worse... patients were walking in to hand the nurse their paperwork!! I was half naked, in pain, embarassed, crying. Hurt worse when they were examining me and I started crying more and they finally just told me to stop being dramat. Couldn't take it... finally called my husband in and made him hold my hand... worst gyno experience ever! ... so atleast yours didn't get more awkward than it already was lol.

    My german mother in law did tell me about the skirt trick when she came to visit in january... this is 2 years later after we are now living in America where they give us robes! Could have used that advice a long time ago haha.

  27. ps - to the "boobs and sandals" comment above my other comment - yep, lived in France, that happened to me too. I was convinced that I misheard and did not remove my shirt, the doctor was very annoyed when he came in and I wasn't ready... weird weird customs in foreign lands lol.

    ... one last story to make you feel better :)

    ... Russia ... teaching english at an elementary school as a volunteer. Our first day there we go to the school and someone our leader called the "nurse" (who turned out to be someone who worked in the kitchen!) took the girls in a room and made us lift our shirts and bras and basically just flash her. She could speak not English, we could speak no Russian. She looked, nodded, motioned for us to put our shirts down and that was it. Please... tell me what checking out my chest has to do with teaching elementary kids, please? lol *sigh* o the memories...

  28. Hmmmm. Wow. Here in California, we couldn't possibly have those stirrup chairs because then the patients wouldn't be able to see the goofy pictures that they have on the exam room ceiling (that are supposed to help us forget what we are doing there.....)

  29. i am (or was in a former life) a midwife of some twenty years experience and that is one of the best cervical tales i have ever heard. it was however pipped at the post by the one about the lady who felt she needed a quick refresh after a tennis game and prior to her annual pap smear. she (allegedly) put a face washer from the bathroom to good use for a slosh around the nether regions. upon commencement of the examination the gynaecologist muttered that "no one has ever gone to this much trouble before", the perplexed woman had a lightbulb moment later that evening when her young daughter enquired about the whereabouts of the face washer that she had been using to tidy up the excess glitter on her school project. true story. so i am told

  30. Michelle, I saw that same story years and years ago in the "Was My Face Red" section of a magazine, where readers write in their most embarrassing moments. So yes, true story!

    I had an internal ultrasound to check out an ovarian cyst. It was definitely a "now, hey there!" moment for me, too. Fortunately the ultrasound tech was a woman, I had a nice big sheet over my lap, and she handed the wand to me to insert (she directed it from there).

  31. Holy pants off Monday, Miss K. That is just crazytown. Seriously, I think I would have Krav Maga-ed his ass (if I knew how to do that) if he'd tried that on me! I'm impressed at your restraint. Also, I confess I had to scroll up a second time to look at your photos I was so engrossed in your story.

  32. I came across this post linked from That Girl, That Quilt blog and I about peed by pants laughing so hard - while sitting at my desk during work hours. I work in health care, in a department of all women, so I had to share with with all of my coworkers. Thank you for brightening up our week, and so glad you came up with such a clever solution with your long skirt and boots.

  33. I'm a bit late getting here but excellent post and exactly describes how I felt and still feel at each of my visits! I'm now in my 9th month (pretty much anyway!) and there's no time left for being a prude. What shocked me most is my 22 week ultrasound was also internal!

  34. ;o)) Love your post! Well, I was equally surprised going to a midwife here in the States for the first time. In Germany it is pretty much the same like you described in you post (at least what I have experinced)... so I never questioned it. One also had to bring your own towel to sit on in the chair :o)

  35. Hi Nadine, that's a bit rough, having to bring your own towel. Can't they chip in and buy some of that disposable paper stuff they always have in drs offices? Or just a bottle of Spray N Wipe? :)

  36. OH MY GOD.
    I just enjoyed your story, and all the ladies stories.
    What a hoot.
    I want to know where are all the men in these stories.
    We suffer and feel ashamed and flustered. And the men just relax.
    I know now why in my country they feel sad when they have a girl.
    I think its because of the doctor appointment.

    Kirsty, I am sending you a KISS and a HUG.
    Just for being a GOOD GIRL.

  37. I had a similar experience as your OB experience for my mamogram in Belgium. I know your sister Dee from our DC days and she linked me to this post. I loved it so much I linked to it on my blog. If you want me to take it down please let me know. http://fabling.blogspot.com/2012/02/winter-can-we-now-have-check.html


Hi there, I love getting comments, so let her rip! I do my very best to reply (by email) so please make sure your account is set up to show email, so that I can get back to you. Cheers, Kirsty

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