Childbirth is raw and traumatic and gory. Unless you’re one of those birth goddesses that magically experiences ecstasy while baby peacefully glides through your birth canal. Chances are, your birth story left you with a few battle wounds.
I’m lucky. My childbirth injury is minor compared to the horror stories I’ve heard. I had a fantastic OB and nursing team to help me rocket through a quick, intense 6-hour labor.
Still, with an OB named Dr. Skull and a med student who reminded me of Edward Scissorhands, I should’ve known I wouldn’t walk away from childbirth unscathed.
I was, in fact, wheeled out of the hospital full of stitches and drugs to help me cope with a labial laceration – an unusual tear that ripped my right labia in half. Stitches were supposed to fuse it back together to, you know, keep my lady bits from dangling in the wind.
But this was the conversation at my 6-week checkup, when I learned the stitches didn’t hold:
Me: “Wait, so I have three labias now?”
Dr. Skull: “Well…. Just think of yourself as exotic!”
Exotic?! The simultaneous confusion and horror must have been written all over my face, because we both just sat there in a pregnant pause.
Exotic is not a word I want my doctor using to describe my post-partum body.
Exotic is lounging on a tropical beach, slurping boozy punch from a pineapple with those tiny pink umbrellas, while Jason Momoa oils my sun-kissed stretch marks.
Exotic is…. Okay, fine, I’ll be realistic. Exotic is adding a pump of Irish cream syrup to my usual nonfat latte.
I’m in my mid-thirties. I’m trying to juggle a baby and a career and mortgage and a 12-year marriage. I do not need exotic ladybits, thankyouverymuch.
And even if I did want my vagina ruffles to channel Beyonce’s Lemonade dress, I’d rather suffer through a Brazilian than be stuck with a labial laceration for the rest of my life.
Yet here I am, three years and three labias later. I’ve mostly forgotten all about my post-partum trauma. But every once-in-a-while, like an irritating hangnail, the scar tissue snags on a piece of cheap toilet paper, or on my raggedy mom undies, and it hurts like a mother. Visions of Edward Scissorhands flash through my mind. So I breathe, and – per Doc’s orders – I imagine myself on that exotic beach.
“Why hello, Mr. Momoa. Allow me to introduce you to Number Three.”