I’d had what I considered to be a great birth. An induction due to an overdue baby, three good pushes, a single pull with a vacuum, a healthy baby and only one stitch. I was up and walking shortly after and everything looked fine at my six week check-up and pap smear.
Sex hurt the first time at six weeks, but hey… doesn’t it hurt for everyone?
Three months passed, and still, gentle, loving sex was painful, too painful to last more than a minute or two. Usually a few specks of blood were left on the sheets. I googled, I asked my mother’s group, I mentioned it to my GP. All normal, they said. We all take different amounts of time to recover from childbirth. Also breastfeeding often made things dry. Maybe try more lube?
Month five, things seemed to be getting worse, not better. My husband wouldn’t come near me, for fear he’d tear me. And if I did convince him to give sex a try, to warm me up, to go slow, to be gentle, to use careful positions (sexy, hey!), the result was the same – tearing of the vaginal opening, bleeding and stinging. He’d have to head off to another room to finish the job for himself, guilty that he’d ‘done this to me again’.
Our baby didn’t sleep more than 40 minutes at a time. She had endless feeding issues. I had recurrent mastitis and blocked ducts. I needed to return to work early. I had significant post-natal anxiety.
Having no intimacy with my husband was the cherry on top that our marriage did not need. But after being given the ‘you’re an over-reacting hypochondriac first time Mum’ treatment whenever I took my daughter to a doctor or nurse, I felt like this must be another ‘everyone recovers at different rates’ scenario.
Month six – sex was unbearable, so it just stopped happening. The tearing was worse, the bleeding was alarming. After our last attempt, I sat down in front of our mirror and had a look. My vagina, my labia were normally a dark pink colour, in late pregnancy they’d ventured into purple territory. There was no denying that now, they were a VERY light pink, and in parts completely white. I booked an appointment with my GP.
When I explained what was happening when my husband and I attempted to have sex to my GP, she asked me if I’d had any stitches. I told her I’d had just the one.
She said it sounded like I was given a ‘husband stitch’, where the vagina is repaired in such a way that it is left tighter for the pleasure of the woman’s male partner. She was visibly furious and said that this was trend that was dying out, but she still saw it from time to time. She asked to examine me to confirm the diagnosis. She took one look.