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Last week on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Cardi B went on a “tear” about her post-birth body, explaining that her daughter Kulture “broke” her vagina. While it’s not news that childbirth does a number on a woman’s body, it is refreshing when we talk can about such topics — “Why does nobody tell you about those things?” Cardi B said to Kimmel. “Nobody told me they were gonna stitch my vagina” — with openness, without judgment, with even a little humor. If not on late-night television, at least to each other. Here, six women on their post-baby vaginas.
I can’t remember the exact degree of tearing I had, but I gave birth vaginally and needed stitches. My whole body was in such discomfort afterward that I don’t really remember any acute pain from the tearing. What I do remember, though, is what happened at my six-week postpartum appointment. Like most women, I had to bring my son because … who else would take care of him? He’d just woken up from a nap when the midwife came into the exam room to check me out.
She breezed through a few routine questions, not really listening but sort of confirming that I was “fine.” Then she had me get on the table so she could look at my stitches, and somehow I managed to get up there while still holding my son. After about a second of looking, she announced that some skin had grown over the stitches and she needed to use silver nitrate to burn them off. She explained that usually a nurse would hold the baby during this procedure, but she thought my son looked “comfy” right where he was. Then she just went right ahead and burned my vagina, with my son balanced precariously on my chest. And that was it — that was how my vagina was cared for after giving birth. Her final recommendation was to have a glass of wine before sex, because it was probably going to hurt. I hate this country.
I had a C-section, which you’d think means a perfectly fine vagina. But I swear, my vagina was just bigger — wider, WAY WIDER, after being pregnant. My “lips” were longer and droopier and the whole thing went from a pretty pink rose to a large, floppy pile of flesh. It could be all in my head — again, given that I didn’t push down there — but I don’t think so; I’ve been looking at my vagina for 40 years. The other thing I will say in the post-birth-vagina department is that I rarely get wet anymore. I used to get wet quite easily. I still get horny; I still like sex with my husband. But pregnancy dried me up. I need lube now! Fucking lube?! Goddammit.
I wear a panty liner every day of my life after having my two kids — and my last pregnancy was five years ago, so it’s been a while. I’m seeing a urologist about it this week. And when I make a big poop, to this day, I swear my tear opens back up. I literally can’t feel my husband’s dick. Sex used to hurt, but I’m so loose now. I also have to wear super-plus tampons even on lighter days — the smaller tampons feel like they’re falling out.
I’ve had three kids vaginally and my doctor tells me I’m like a virgin down there. So I don’t think every woman should worry about winding up with a “broken vagina.” My mom, on the other hand, said one of her 60 stitches — holding together an artery — tore while I was 1 week old, and she almost bled to death. She needed three blood transfusions. I broke her vagina and almost killed her. How’s that for Jewish guilt?
I swear I could hear myself tearing during delivery. I still remember the shrill of the pain. And then I was just so sad and frustrated that I couldn’t walk properly for weeks — healing the tears really slowed me down and bummed me out. What I also noticed most recently was this: So I used to hate Pap smears. It was the only time I ever took a Xanax. They would hurt and I’d feel so tight and tense down there. Recently, I got a Pap smear and literally couldn’t feel it. It was all so spacious and airy down there! And on that note, I’ll say, my husband is very well endowed, and for a while post-baby I couldn’t feel him down there. That freaked me out. I thought, “Oh hell, this is what it will feel like forever.” But there is a good ending — everything is pretty much okay now. Kind of. Well, getting there …
I didn’t really tear. No stitches that I know of. But I pushed for so long that what got damaged was more like the muscles in my vagina. They were so sore that I couldn’t sit or walk for three or four weeks. But the vagina itself looks and feels totally fine and normal now and it’s only been 6 months since my baby.