When deciding to embark on the rocky road of parenthood, every man, woman and his dog will tell you that life really will never be the same again.
What they are less apt to tell you is that neither will your vagina.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that whilst ‘life as I knew it’ continues in a not-so-dissimilar fashion to its pre-child state (I still eat, sleep, read, watch films and engage in casual xenophobia) my gruffalo has changed beyond all recognition.
Prior to pregnancy and birth, I had a good, honest, hardworking front bum. It wasn’t going to win any beauty contests, I’ll grant you, but it wouldn’t have looked too shabby during the skimpy swimsuit round and it may well have had something to contribute to world peace.
Now it looks like a really bad photo-fit of its former self. Should it ever commit a crime, even the hubbie would be hard-pressed to identify it in a line-up.
I’m loath to give you the ins and outs of it, but the problem now lies with both the ins and outs of it.
I wasn’t so naive as to expect no issues in the underwear department. Pushing something the size of a koala bear out through something the size of a koala bear’s mouth is bound to take its toll.
So the moment I hit the 20-week pregnant mark, and labour starts to dawn as a real possibility, I start working out (or should that be working ‘in’), pumping pelvic floor for all it is worth.
By 42 weeks, I could take part in a twatathon, so ripped are my internal guns.
I am also deeply paranoid about ‘tearing’, so I’ve implemented a daily routine of perineal massage.
My husband asks why I am bothering.
This is a man who once had a penile swab – a cotton bud being inserted into something THE SIZE OF A COTTON BUD people – and he STILL has flashbacks about it.
I ask him to sod off.
He has a point though. Anyone not au fait with the dark art of pummelling your perineum, allow me to enlighten you.
- Lubricate the hands with a ‘natural’ oil (I use olive on the midwife’s recommendation)
- Place both thumbs as deep as you can get them into the lower reaches of the vaginal opening
- Press backwards (towards the spine) and downwards (towards the rectum) until you experience a sensation of ‘this definitely can’t be right, can it?’
- Start kneading away at your insides like a place in the final of The Great British Bake Off depends on it
- Never be able to look at salad dressing in the same way again
It is well worth the effort to get mine so buttery soft and malleable. When the doctor slices away at my biffins bridge to ease my son’s arrival into the world, at least she doesn’t need to sharpen the scissors first.
The true invasion of the vagina snatchers begins with the stitch up job.
The diligent female doctor takes a good 30 minutes to deal with my episiotomy cut. I am told I am lucky – that she is the best seamstress in the hospital. How marvellous, I think. My vagina is now the proud wearer of ‘haute suture’.
But 6 weeks later, when hubbie and I make our first attempt at fornication (many people thought this was too soon – myself included), we realise there’s been a terrible mistake. She’s gone too tight. I am oversewn.
Under normal circumstances, this might be a positive. A chance to turn back the cocks, as it were.
But I no longer have the internal workings to match.
Two hours of pushing a reluctant baby through the birth canal has resulted in a total resignation of my muff muscles.
My woo has turned into Wookey Hole. It’s a tight squeeze to get in, but once you are, there’s a cavernous realm beyond just waiting to be explored. Like the visitor attraction in Somerset, I am thinking of renting out parts for the maturing of cheddar cheeses.
My pelvic floor becomes highly unreliable. Rather than taking it’s usual three statutory breaks a day, it is now sluggish, sloppy, and sometimes refuses to work altogether.
My Pramactive fitness instructor describes it as a hammock that just needs a little encouragement to get back into shape.
If this is the case, mine is a hammock in a ‘You’ve Been Framed’ video. My urine an inebriated holidaymaker who, despite his best efforts to stay in the damned thing, invariably ends up on the floor, leaving bystanders (your husband) pointing and laughing and threatening to sell the video of you pissing yourself for £250.
I try to remember to exercise it, but these sleep-deprived days I can barely remember to go to the toilet. Thankfully I don’t need to – it just seeps out whilst I’m otherwise engaged.
Instead I daydream about heading to Pelvic Floors 2 Go and picking myself up a nice new one in beech laminate, fitted by a rough and ready bloke called Dave who tells me all about how he once beat Eric Bristow at darts.
I find myself humming the theme tune from the latest Tena Lady advert.
My husband suggests more sex, claiming that regular use will act as physiotherapy for my battered bits. I marvel at his medical know-how.
We work through the logistics.
Latest guidelines in the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome suggests that your baby should sleep in the same room as you until it is 6 months. Not just at night, but for ANY nap they may take.
So we have a Sophie’s Choice. Go against guidelines and risk the ultimate mood ruiner, or plough on regardless and risk mentally scarring our infant child for life. Or maybe the NHS thinks we should strap him into his sling facing forward and hope the gentle rocking motion sends him off?
For now, the most fun we have in bed is taking it in turns to shout our names into my Wookey Hole and seeing how long it takes for the echo to come back.