The Geeky Mother Guide to "The Annual"

Just about any woman over the age of 16, and certainly any woman who’s given birth anywhere except maybe out in the bushes with only the help of the friendly local maternal wolves/raccoons/favorite forest animal du jour, has had the dubious experience of ‘the Annual’. The gynecological community euphemistically refers to this as ‘the annual pelvic exam’, as if we women will somehow be fooled into thinking it actually has something to do with a pelvis, rather than the crotch-and-boob exam that it really is. The receptionists and nurses don’t pretend, at least, so they just call it ‘The Annual’. It also means when they call the doctor, they don’t have to yell out “Jae’s here for her annual crotch-and-boob!!”

Why ‘the Annual’ freaks any of us mothers out, I don’t know, but it does. When we give birth, we could care less if the entire world sees us naked and pokes their hands inside of us every 43 seconds. We’re busy trying to squash a watermelon through something the size of a 3 inch long piece of garden hose. If the janitor seeing us buck naked or the OB getting surgically stapled to our cervix for 18 hours will make that happen any faster, we will all gladly stand in line to do any of this. That sentiment flies out the window afterward, despite the fact that there’s really nothing more that the OB could possibly see after fully inspecting the inside (and outside if you’re unlucky enough to have a c-section) of the uterus, cervix, crotch, hemorrhoids, you name it, during birth. My OB’s seen more of my uterus than Trusty Hubby and I have combined.

Nonetheless, many of us who are Geeky Moms are just a little shy about this kind of thing, in spite of the fact that we gamely pretend that it’s just slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am and it’s ‘not that big of a deal’. The nurses are smart. They know we’ll put it off forever unless they hold our birth control prescriptions hostage, so we make that annual phone call, preferably not the day before the last pill. However, our preparations for ‘the Annual crotch-and-boob exam’ tell the real story about how shy we are.

So, let me give you the proper Geeky Mom instructions on how to do this.

Several nights before, make sure there are at least 2 pairs of underpants (white) with no holes in them, in case the doctor sees you in underwear. This is despite the fact that he is likely to see you in something that is equivalent to a sheet for your bottom half and 2 paper towels pinned together for you top half.

Find white socks, without holes. This is important. Stirrups are cold without socks on. Wonder why they call them stirrups instead of ‘foot rests that put your legs into contorted positions’.

Wake up the morning of the exam and say to yourself, “Crap. Today’s the day.”
Make coffee and put chocolate in it because coffee and chocolate make everything better in the morning. Decide that you have plenty of time after dropping off the kids to get a shower and fill up the gas tank, which is below ‘E’.

Wonder where a new disposable razor is for the armpits and legs. Decide after looking all over that you’re glad you saved the old razor. Determine that the legs are good enough. Wonder if you got all the armpit hair since it’s hard to see with glasses off. Hope you don’t cut yourself.

Clean off your privates and bottom completely about 5 times to ensure there’s a. no toilet paper and b. no poop, despite the fact that they’re no strangers to either of these things and actually use toilet paper themselves on a (hopefully) regular basis. Try to remember how long it is you’re supposed to go without nookie before the exam, and decide it’s not going to matter anyway. You’ll never see the lab tech who might note sperm on the Pap smear. Be glad that you aren’t going to be like the mom who accidentally got glitter down her pants right before her exam and didn’t realize it until the doctor asked her if she was decorating herself. Vow to yourself not to go anywhere near the junk drawer with the glitter in it prior to your exam. Pray that you don’t have to go to the bathroom before the exam and mess up your now shiny-clean bottom.

Pick out clothes, despite the fact that you’ll sit in the exam room the entire time with a sheet and the 2 paper towels. Go for shabby comfort. Double check the socks for no holes. Worry that the underpants will leave marks. Worry that the bra will leave marks. Worry that the long-sleeved shirt will make it hard for the nurse to take your blood pressure, so opt for the short-sleeved one instead. Wonder about smells. Put on extra deodorant. Apply perfume, but not a strong one. Making the doctor sneeze from a strong perfume on your nether regions would be Bad. Decide against spraying perfume ‘down there’ for this reason.

Heat up the curling iron. Decide you don’t have a lot of time for fixing up your hair, because you have to go to the bathroom. Of course you have to poop. While sitting there, decide whether to bring a book or the Nintendo DS. It would be fun to play Grand Theft Auto, but there are usually little kids with their moms in an OB office. Decide to bring the book. Wonder why your body couldn’t have done its business before the shower. Wonder if you’re totally clean when you’re done. Wash your hands.

Double check your stack of books. Find one you’ve been wanting to read awhile, and check the number of pages to make sure there are at least 200 unread ones. If you only have 25 or so, it’s a guarantee that the doctor will be late because of an emergency delivery and you’ll be bored out of your skull then. Having 200 guarantees he’ll be there semi-on time for your crotch-and-boob thing.

Look at the clock and freak out because it took a lot longer to get ready than you expected, and you still have to stop to get gas because the tank is empty. Get enough gas at the Speedway to get you to and from the office.

While driving, consider which music would be better–something soothing, or rocking out. Opt for Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’ played at speaker-vibrating levels while you sing at the top of your lungs to try to forget that you’re about to get naked for someone you see only once a year.

Drive quickly to the office. Run the light as it turns from yellow to red. Glance quickly at the cars around to make sure there were no cops who saw you. Breathe a sigh of relief that you don’t have to explain to the (most likely male) law enforcement officer that you were in a rush to get to your annual crotch-and-boob exam on time.

Park in a distant spot because you a. didn’t get there early, b. were told to park farther by your primary care doctor so that you could get exercise (and the few extra seconds of exercise might make the scale go down, which you now stress out about) and c. if you’re really late, you have to reschedule. Arrive right on time anyway because they’re holding your prescription hostage until you get naked for them to prod your privates. Stress out about the scale. Stress out about the blood pressure measurement. Stress out about the sheet and 2 paper towels pinned together over your chest. Sit in the room on the uncomfortable exam table and expect to be there in the paper mini-toga for at least an hour. Wonder where you put the book and realize that the reason the table is uncomfortable is because you’re partially sitting on the book. The doctor arrives a few minutes later, just as you get to a really exciting part in your book.

Chat, get through the exam, decide it was about as unexciting as usual and wonder why you got stressed out. Know that you’ll do this all over again next year anyway when you get ready for the next crotch-and-boob exam.

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