A few days ago was mine and Amy’s eighth wedding anniversary. Eight years since our civil partnership, which is crazy. What is funny is that neither of us actually remembered until Facebook told us on the day! As it turns out, Amy was scheduled to work and I had booked my (well overdue) smear test. This left me with a moral dilemma – Do I take her with me? Do I try to arrange childcare? In the end, I decided to suck it up and take her with me. There was no point asking someone to have her for the literally fifteen minutes that it took for me to have the exam.
The night before, I said we were going to the doctor in the morning and Eden said she was scared. I told her it was ok as we were just going for mummy to get a check-up, which led to her asking questions about what kind of check-up. I asked her if she remembered when she got a grass seed stuck in her vulva? She said yes, and I explained that I was going to have a check up to make sure mine is healthy too. Spared her the details, obviously, as she’s two, but I gave her what I felt was an appropriate amount of information.
So, along we went to the appointment. When we went in, the nurse was a bit perplexed at me bringing Eden and asked “oh? Is she coming too?” I said “yup!” and that was the end of that. I went behind the curtain to get ready and Eden chatted to the nurse about how it’s her birthday soon and how Santa is coming soon as well. The nurse asked how old she was and Eden said two. She then asked me how old she is, and when I said two she was surprised. She had thought she was about four – we hear that a lot.
Anyhow, I had the smear test as Eden sat and shouted “what are you doing in there?” and “Are you having a vulva check up?” From behind the curtain, which made me laugh more than is probably average…
Anyhow, so today this came up in conversation at work and people seemed a little surprised that I’d taken Eden with me. Someone said it was “private” and should be “child-free time”.
My question here is why wouldn’t I?
Eden has a vagina. It’s important to teach how to care for each part of our body and that includes appropriate medical screenings. If I’m honest, I’d put off this smear for so long. In the UK, we only get them from the age of 25. I’d had one before I got pregnant, but the result was “insufficient”, so they said “repeat after a year”. Then I got pregnant, so couldn’t have it and then after having Eden I was wrapped up in having a baby. So wrapped up that I neglected my lady bits. I booked a couple of times, but had to cancel because of periods that showed up unannounced. Recently I’ve had mystery pelvic pain, so I’ve been having all kinds of exams, scans and things. So, it makes sense to throw a smear in the mix too.
I don’t understand how anyone could possibly say that it’s inappropriate to take a child. For a start, I don’t have childcare coming out of my ears. But also, what harm does it do? I can think of a gazillion positives – it promotes good medical care, it gets her used to the nurse, it shows her that mummy is comfortable with medical professionals so helps her to be comfy too. I don’t see negatives. It’s not like I peeled back the curtain and invited her to perform the smear for me…
Think about it. How do we teach our kids to be confident and to care for their body when things like smear tests are shrouded in shame? It’s just another important medical thing that, let’s face it, can be lifesaving. So why are we hiding it from our kids just because it involves a vagina?