I had my first baby in France. It was horrific. It was also wonderful and more divine than I could have ever imagined, and I'll share about that another day - but this story is about the hard stuff.
During my first ultrasound - which was done in my OBGYN's office. He told me, in french - which I didn't speak so well at the time - to take off all my clothes. So I did. Then he got me to lie on a cold bed - without a sheet or a drape, or a gown to cover me - and I understood -through hand gestures - that I was to have a breast exam. Then he palpated my stomach to feel for the pregnancy. And THEN, I had vaginal exam - with unwarmed lube, and finally an ultrasound. All while I was lying on the bed naked. And that was just the 12 week scan.
There's nothing like hind-sight.
Why didn't I say something? Because at the time, it was so unexpected, so different to what I was used as a medical professional - my mind went a little bit blank. It seemed like what I wanted didn't matter, I was in France now, and this is how things were done, so I better just go with it.
I didn't know what to say or how to say it - not just because it was in french, but because I just didn't know what to do.
When I re-read what I've written it sounds so abusive. So violent. I wonder if it really happened.
So, a few months down the track, when my baby turned out to be a girl, I realised I needed to become the woman I'd always dreamed of being, I didn't want her to grow up and feel the way I felt. But I didn't know how to become that woman, because I'd spent a fair portion of my life, doing what I was told - when I was told. Finish the food on your plate, cross your legs, fold your arms and sit up straight, don't wear that - it's not appropriate.
Drunk girls are more fun, you want to be more fun don't you? You want to get a good job don't you? You want people to like you don't you?
So when it was time in my life, to speak up, and put real living sound into the voice inside me - that was simultaneously whispering and screaming - I found I didn't have one.
I'd lost confidence in myself. I doubted myself.
This is the shittiest of shit feelings.
Because even though I hated that man and that situation. I hated myself more, for not being able to say something or do something. What was wrong with me?
There was, and is, nothing wrong with me - and if you're in this situation there's nothing wrong with you either.
Personally, I recognised I just had to be put into an incredibly uncomfortable situation, to realise something needed to change. To wake me up. But to be honest with you - even though I felt pretty horrible, nothing changed for a really long time.
Because I didn't know how change it.
Being a woman is hard, where not given a road map - infact we're given the opposite of a roadmap, we're taught that what we want, what we need, what feels good to us - doesn't matter.
My husband never would have been treated that way - and also - he would have known exactly what to say if the doctor was doing something that wasn't ok with him. He's awesome like that.
As grown women we have to learn this, and figure this out for ourselves, because sure as hell, no-one is teaching it to us.
Changing this, is my mission. For myself, for my daughters and for all women.