On Postpartum Healing and Sex

Image above Vagina Monologue by Eigna

Most of the women I know who have had babies popped those babies out and then returned to their fit, trim, amazing-looking selves. I don’t hate them for that, much,  but my road to recovery was WAY different, and I continue on that road to this day. Some things will never be the same – my belly may always look four months pregnant for example. Dear readers, I’ve penned this open letter to illuminate the realities of postpartum healing and sex. Take note – there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Dear doctor so-and-so,

Our paths were never meant to cross, but I am so very glad they did.

I met you because my plans went to hell. We were all hooked up with our midwives and their trusty student, and they were going to help us give birth under a glowing rainbow of organic, natural, unicorn poop wonderment. I was going to labour at home, basking in the loving warmth of all three of our mothers, ‘neath the tender gaze of my sweet daughters,  then breeze to the hospital in time for the pushing, where I would deliver our babe without any medical intervention unless it was an emergency.  Life is funny though, isn’t it? I laboured peacefully and serenely for an entire day, and then at about 5cm I decided that everybody was driving me nuts, I wanted to swear like a truck driver and engage in primal screaming, and if I didn’t get some sweet, sweet drugs pumped into my spinal fluid, I was probably going to die.

I think you’re likely younger than me, which I thought was kind of cool. No, that’s a lie. It made me jealous. Even in labour, I was able to reflect on all of the real jobs I could have had if I hadn’t been such an idiot about school. You are pretty, I remember, in a very fresh-faced I’m-blessed-with-Asian-skin-and-I-don’t-need-make-up kind of way. I remember your name, of course, but I didn’t publish it, because I wasn’t sure you’d want to be attached to this post. You seemed really calm, and confident. Assertive, but pleasant. I figured we’d be good together, you and I.

Because I had an epidural, my poor midwives had to turn my care over to you. They seemed disappointed, but after their student tried to insert my IV and sprayed the entire delivery room with my blood, I no longer really cared what they thought. They were being extraordinarily passive, and I needed a firm hand like yours, or like the hand of the wonderful nurse I had in your hospital. Sadly, I don’t remember her name at all.

I saw you three times. First when I arrived on the ward, sweating and screaming in pain, wild-eyed and frightening small children. Then later, when you came to check on my progress, and informed me that I wasn’t pushing hard enough, and finally two hours and forty-five freaking minutes into pushing, when you plunked a pair of shiny forceps down beside my head and warned me that it was my last push before you were going in with them to pull my baby out.

My partners and I did lots of prep leading up to labour, short of studying hypno-birthing. I really believed that there was a way I could prepare myself for an event that I would later realize was the most primal, otherworldly, out-of-control feeling I’ve ever experienced. We even spent lots of time on gentle perineal stretching and massage because I was convinced this would prepare my vagina for the almost nine pound task at hand. A bowling ball weighs ten pounds, which isn’t much heavier than the baby I birthed. I still shudder when I think about that. If you massage an opening the size of a ping pong ball every day for seven years, then try to squeeze a watermelon out of it, the massage ain’t gonna do much.

After that last highly motivated push popped the baby’s head out, and you let me pull out the rest of him (which, by-the-way, was the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done), you let me know that there was a “bit of tearing”. The epidural was more than working, so I had only the briefest sense of disappointment when you started sewing me up. What a surreal thing, to realize someone is stitching up your hoo-ha.

Panic began to seep in as I realized you were taking (what felt like) a very long time. I know I should have been distracted by the happy after-glow and the sweet sensation of holding my brand new baby, but there you were, sewing up my bits. I asked you how bad it was. You said it was a third degree tear (there are 4 degrees of tearing) and you said it would take a while to sew me up, and that it was in my best interest to just let you take your time. Fair enough. I think I briefly wondered if my lady parts would ever work the same again, and then that thought was snuffed from my consciousness for oh…about TWO YEARS!

Listen doc, I’m a pretty liberal gal. I’ve always kind of identified myself as someone who was very comfortable with sex. It’s kind of my thing. I was certain as soon as the few weeks of healing were up, I’d be back in the saddle, so t0 speak.  The sleep deprivation, the physical trauma, the terrifying hormonal emotional roller coaster, the searing pain of my nipple pulverization – sure, these were deterrents to getting my mojo back, but guess what the real killer was?

I couldn’t get past the idea that a person, an-almost-nine-pound, just about the size of a bowling ball person came surging forth from my vagina with such force that they tore me open to the tune of three degrees. Three degrees that you had to spend an hour sewing back together. Night after night of the burning pain of evening sitz baths, I couldn’t feel okay with my vagina anymore.

Steely determination pushed me forward. I’m now in a better place with my sex life. Some days I even feel like my old self. Usually those days come with a couple of cocktails, I won’t lie. My baby is almost two, and I’m only now beginning to think I might be restored to my former glory.

It took a long time before my lady parts physically healed completely. I had read about this, and tried not to be too distressed about the whole thing. The first time I tried to get it on post baby I was terrified. Sex wasn’t impossible, but it wasn’t like it used to be. Certain positions were painful for a long time in a way they never used to be. The pain morphed into a dull, sickening sensation in the pit of my stomach which was decidedly not sexy. Eventually, all the pain went away. Now that I seem to be over that hump (heh) I’ve made an amazing discovery.

Doc, I don’t know what you did in there, but I feel things I’ve never felt before, and I can do things I’ve never been able to do. Here, I’ll say it. My vagina isn’t the same as it used to be. IT’S BETTER! My g-spot is on speed dial, and I have muscle control that I’ve only read about in Penthouse letters. I want to sing it to the highest peaks, and shout it to the lowest valleys. You’ve given my vagina magical powers.

I want every female (and their partners) who is afraid of delivery to know that amazing things can happen post childbirth. I want all of us to take it easy on ourselves, lower our expectations, and try to embrace other ways of connecting with our partners on a physical level as we allow our bodies, minds, and spirits to heal and settle post childbirth. This can take way the hell longer than six to eight weeks, friends.

I can’t thank you enough for whatever mastery you wrought with your deft hands. My post breast-feeding sad pancake breasts and the jiggly pouch of squishy flesh that used to be my tummy were really bumming me out until I realized that my punani had been transformed into a souped-up street racer. You gotta take the good with the bad, and my goods are Tony the Tiger grrreat!

I will respect your anonymity, but say the word and I will add your name to this post. Your practice will be flooded because you are the Grand Poobah of pussy.

With my most sincere gratitude,

Playboy Mommy

 

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