Oh, I love my midwives!
At the 37 week and 4 days visit, my midwife and I headed upstairs for my first ever (with the midwives) vaginal exam. I was understandably excited.
Way back in college I was a sexual health educator ... peers, students, clinic hours, me in front of the Japanese-American student union, doing a condom, vibrator routine that both educates and entertains.
I actually enjoy my annual exams! (Usually at Planned Parenthood.) I get to talk to ladies who have dedicated their professional (or volunteer) lives to serving low-income women in a manner that I more than applaud: health care! sex ed! woo hoo! I grill them on updates about testing, vaccines and the like. And, I get my exam in the process. (Can you imagine me chatting my way through a pelvic? Good, 'cause that's exactly what I do.)
Back to the home visit.
Upstairs we go. My midwife checks heart tones of the little lady: 140's, excellent variation = Ginger sounds perfect! (Her words, not mine!)
She checks my blood pressure: 108/68 = perfect! (Her words, not mine!)
And then she puts on a glove (reclaimed from the birth kit we had delivered to the house), squeezed out the lube (also reclaimed from the birth kit we had delivered to the house) and made sure that I have had no trauma associated with this kinda thing. I do not.
I am giddy, frankly, because I know she'd soon tell me what my body had been up to and how close, if at all, we were to meeting baby/going into labor/etc.
"This will be cold..."
While we chat, she finds my cervix, which is kinda difficult because it's so soft! (This is a good thing, the cervix is usually rather hard, but giving, like the tip of your nose. We need it to be soft, like a pudgey cheek.) She then begins to manipulate it, kinda pull it forward (the cervix points more to the back of our pelvis most of the time, but as we prepare to menstruate or, say, deliver a baby, the cervix moves "forward") and tells me that she can't quite fit her finger tip inside, which means that the os, the opening to the cervix, is still shut tight = no dilation. We need 10 centimeters of dilation in order to get the baby's head out.
I try not to be too disappointed.
The sensations were just like a pap smear, a little uncomfortable, kinda tingly in chalkboard scratch kinda way, but no pain... so I have no problem that she's still in there, doing what she needs to do.
We chat a bit more and then she said: "OK, let me tell you what I've been able to do..."
While we talk, she has slowly inserted the tip of her finger into my cervix... and not just the tip, up to a few knuckles! WHILE WE TALKED my cervix dilated to about 1.5 centimeters!
Which was awesome, painless if not sensationless, and meant that my cervix is very pliable and my body had been doing it's job.
By end of session we determine:
Effacement of cervix = 15 % (we need 100 % for full dilation to occur)
Dilation = 1.5 centimeters (again, gotta have the 10 centimeters)
So cool! Body hard at work, and I hadn't really noticed. We end the meeting with me giddier than ever (and with some lube kinda, working its way outta me, so, sticky, too) I skip across the living room (which is funny, cause I'm not exactly little at this point), sooooo proud and thrilled to be in my body.
Ross listens, a bit bemused, as I give him the blow by blow, but he agrees, my body = cool!
In the days following, I notice more cervical sensations: Now that I can identify what it feels like, I can tell more readily when things are happening, go effacement and dilation, go!