I have this running joke with friends and family alike that as we achieve new accomplishments in life or as we reach a new state of adulthood we are "Leveling Up". Sure, it's a cheesy video game reference. For the most part though it makes me feel much better about aging. There are lots of great ways to level up, some not so great. Here's a list to start your gears turning, the sky is the limit:
Get your first job Get glasses Graduate Get a REAL job Get in a committed relationship Get married Have a child Get a family pet Have another child (or 3) Get a minivan Get stronger glasses First child begins to read Find a gray hair Develop a "muffin top" Deal with the loss of a family pet Go to a high school reunion Find a *wild* stray hair growing from your nose, ear or in your eyebrows
I think you get the picture. This week I leveled up and joined a club. From what I gather this club isn't very exclusive but it isn't talked about much. Most members like to keep their membership on the down-low and no, I'm not talking about the Freemasons. I have officially joined the ranks of TWCTLTS: Those Who Cross Their Legs To Sneeze. Or Cough. Or Laugh. Or Giggle. Or Go on Long Car Rides. Or Short Car Trips.
I joke about unlocking new achievements but some of the road stops on my journey to maturity are less than fun; chipping a tooth, reaching to check the mail and feeling "something" happen to your back, worrying about how that Mexican food is going to affect your bowels later on. At 29 years old I do feel that I've leveled up a little early in some areas, I'm not sure whether that's an achievement or not.
This latest development has me a little troubled though. Of course I had to google "incontinence remedies" and "treatment for bladder leakage". Some of the results I came up with were simple, some drastic and some were just funny.
While Kegel exercises seemed to be the easiest route to go (after all, we were good girls and all did our Kegels during pregnancy, right?) I will admit that the Kegel exercises have been somewhat elusive for me. Finding my "special muscles" has been puzzling for me. I've tried taking a pause for the cause in the bathroom but lately that's nearly impossible without crossing my legs. Truth be told, I think that most of the time I'm just giving my anal sphincter and my cha cha a good workout. Those pelvic floor muscles must just be flaccid. After having my last child I went in for a post-partum visit and while my midwife was doing her job she casually dropped a "Kegel for me". I thought I Kegeled but apparently I wasn't doing much of anything. I got a flatline expression she promised that she'd give me a few tips before she left. She forgot the tips and quite frankly, I was a little embarrassed to ask her how to give my lady bits a good workout. I'll admit that my lady problem is mild but at my age it should be nonexistent. I think. I mean, I don't see all the other mommas at the playground slamming their knees shut like a locked bank vault while pushing their tots on the swings, falling to their knees, twisting around like maniacs with a smile plastered to their face that says "Nothing is wrong!!" pushing a cart at the grocery store or traipsing along downtown sidewalks with tinkles on their trousers.
Again, Google to the rescue: while fashioning a cadaver mesh sling to support my bladder didn't sound fun, bio-electrical feedback sounded weird and the thought of incontinence pads was insulting at the tender age of 29, I did find multiple references to vaginal weights and exercisers. Hmm, weights ehh? I'm no body-builder but the thought was intriguing. It conjured images of a six-pack surrounding my bladder. Some brands were entirely clinical, devoted to the mature woman, a seasoned veteran in my sneezing club. Other brands were devoted to emphasizing all of the double-your-pleasure-double-your-fun benefits with a slice of incontinence control on the side, and others were somewhere in the middle of the road. Some of the descriptions made me blush while reading them, others made me feel like I should buy them for my grandmother and save her some money on the Poise pads. Some products promise grab-and-go ease: "Simply insert the weights and go on with your day, exercise your lady bits without even knowing it!" Others caution that you'll need to set aside a half an hour for a full on workout--and boast that you'll be able to apply 9.5 POUNDS of pressure when you're done with a workout. When it comes down to it, if the product advertises a satin carry-bag, a velvet lined case or something of the like in its list of features, I probably won't be buying it. If there is a picture of a cute old lady on the box, I most-likely won't be purchasing it. If there's a chance of one of my kids walking in the room and asking, "Mommy, what are you doing?" or "What's this funny toy, Mommy?", I'll probably pass.
For now, I'll stick with my daily sessions of squeezing every muscle between my belly button and my thighs while contorting my face and holding my breath, 20 reps at a time while pondering the Hab It.