On the happiest day of my life (besides every day after), my baby boy was born. I had a very smooth labor, at home, as I had hoped. After about 10 hours of intense contractions, I began pushing. His head was barely crowning for about an hour and a half of pushing, and then, in his grand way, John made his entrance; in one push he came out. He tore my vagina as if he had done a cartwheel out of my womb (through my cervix, almost to the anus). He was excited to arrive. The pushing, as they say, was indeed the “ring of fire” that so many women describe. However, my “ring of fire” moment did not end after he came out. The burning continued…. thus the dreaded tear. My midwife examined me and saw that my tear was much too intense for her to repair on her own, so we went into an OB/GYN to get repaired (she later told me it was the worst tear she had seen, pretty impressive, don’t you think?). My doctor did a fine job. However, five days later, I re-tore and had to go in again. Lots and lots of stitches. Now, some may argue that an episiotomy would have improved my tear situation. I disagree. My body healed naturally (in a zig zag) rather than straight down. This way, hopefully, I will not tear in the same place (or at all, can a woman hope?) for my next births.
My tear took more than the usual 12 weeks to heal. I had a lot of scar tissue and I was in pain. Sex? Out of the question. Of course I felt horrible about this. Not only did I want to be close with my husband, but I felt so bad for him as well. Could nothing be done? I thought so. I thought I was plagued until my next birth (and re-tear). But alas, my doctor referred me to a type of physical therapy that is done for women. Pelvic floor physical therapy. She said that she had had it done herself. I was willing to try anything.
I went to “vagina therapy,” as I so affectionately call it, for 12 weeks. The physical therapist uses a heat ultrasound to loosen the scar tissue and then massages the area. Then, she shows me how I can continue to massage the area at home. At the beginning, I was not optimistic. Now, I am a believer. This woman has changed my life. My vagina no longer hurts, sex no longer hurts, and I (and my husband) could not be happier.
I talk openly about this experience because, in conversation, I have already talked to women who say: “Wow, that sounds amazing, I never heard of that, sounds like something I (or my sister or my friend or my aunt) may need.” Us women have a lot to go through to have our wonderful babies, and we need to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly, to support one another. Ask your doctor for a referral to your local physical therapy department (I, luckily, went to one of the greatest hospitals in the country). My physical therapist works on vaginas all day. This is a real thing, and not just for postpartum issues, she also works on older women and their issues with urinary incontinence. I could not speak more highly about this. There is hope.