“Nature sucks.”

I really couldn’t disagree with her.
“Honey, we don’t say “suck” in this house, but in this case you did use the word correctly.” Her grandfather was an English teacher. I had an obligation to recognize correct word usage.

“Isn’t there something you can do about that?”

My husband was alarmed by a sudden observation of recent distinct physical changes. “I don’t want a mess everywhere.” Sure. I’d had some experience with that (43 minus 13 years to be exact.)

I’ll be honest, it came much sooner than I expected. She was notably more melancholy recently, sleeping a bit more, and I had blamed her lethargy on the recent heat wave. Well, I was on the right track. It was heat alright. Our little puppy is growing up. She’s in her first heat.

I didn’t anticipate feeling so conflicted.

Our Border Terrier, Abby is 7 1/2 months old. She arrived 3 weeks before the shut down (I’m always clear she’s not a COVID puppy). Our family had months of conversations last year that resulted in making the decision last fall to get Abby. We had a laundry list of restrictions from noise and pet hair to size & a dog that would work around our busy family schedule (that has since crashed and burned with COVID). In one of the most seemingly-bougie things we’ve ever done, I found a family farm in Montana that raises Border Terriers for pets (many will only sell them if you plan to show the dogs).  We put in our order for a female puppy in October and told the kids it she would be born in December. We agreed with her breeders the dog would never be bred and would have her fixed as soon as she was able.  I realized the time was early, but now that we’re here, it seems ridiculously too soon.  She’s still our little girl and she’s growing up too fast.

At Abby’s first vet appointment, we learned that waiting to have her spayed (translation: hysterectomy) until after her first heat decreases the likelihood of incontinence later on in life. The vet won my heart on two accounts: #1: that she was evidenced based and #2, that she was concerned about Abby’s pelvic health and the impact on her quality of life. The vet recognized the significant role of hormones in urinary continence.  No arguments; no pleading Abby’s case.  I admit, I wasn’t used to it.

She brought the information to me.  I didn’t even have to ask. 

So here we are; our puppy is a teenager, we’re closing in on an impending hysterectomy and I was forced into an unexpected conversation with my 6-year old daughter about the fact that not just dogs get their period, but she should be anticipating it too in her teen years.

Yes honey, you’re right. It’s not fair that boys get to stand up to pee, they don’t have to wipe, and yes my dear, it’s not fair that boys don’t get their period.

It’s also not fair that women endure being told that we need to have a glass of wine and just relax when we complain of pain with postpartum sex (we really should get a pelvic PT assessment for overactive muscles and a hormone blood panel to look for low testosterone.) It’s not fair that leakage with workouts is a common gym joke & seen as a badge of honor that you’ve worked hard enough. It should be seen the same way as a torn rotator cuff from a poorly timed snatch lift or low back pain from an unfortunate over-programmed series of deadlifts.  (Again, PT and treating it like the injury that it is; not an affliction that should end any hopes of lifting heavy ever again.)

My dear, although it seems like nature isn’t on your side and your puppy’s vet may listen more than an average woman’s own healthcare providers, please know: 

Mama is doing her very best to make sure that it doesn’t stay that way.

I can’t change the part about you needing to sit down to pee (and wipe, please remember to wipe). I can provide what evidence is out there to help women make decisions based on what they know about their own bodies and where the gaps are in research. Where there is a gap, there is hope and potential to try something new and get a different result.

Nature feels like it “sucks” sometimes, but we don’t have to just sit still, accept it and do nothing.

Feel like you were dealt a bad hand by nature or that your vet listens more than your doctor?
How can I help? 
I promise to listen and I’m always up for a challenge!  (Puppy treats not included.)

Stay safe (and cool!)

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