10 Apologies I Owe My Postpartum Vagina

Vaginas are rad. I've always been pretty obsessed with them, especially mine. I've even named her: Vanessa. (It's an intensely vaginal and very lovely name, if you ask me.) There are lots of times when I appreciate Vanessa, but never have I appreciated her more than during and after the birth of my daughter, who was delivered vaginally after a previous cesarean (VBAC). This gratitude goes along with several apologies I owe my postpartum vagina, but have never formally made because, you know, vaginas don't have ears. But still.

I feel like my postpartum period (for my vaginal birth, as the the c-section postpartum experience was a whole different animal) was a contradiction. I was simultaneously shocked by how much I could do and how good I felt, and how much everything hurt. Having had a c-section, and having dealt with that (comparatively lengthy) recovery period, it was incredible to feel like, "Oh, I can sit up without any help at all! And look at that! My movement is pretty much completely unrestricted. This is fabulous!"

However, having prepped (extensively) mentally and physically for a VBAC, I think there was some degree of (perhaps necessary) fetishizing of vaginal delivery. I had read so often, for example, that recovery was so much easier and completely skipped (or was never exposed to) the materials that essentially tell you, "By the way, you did push a baby out of your nethers and that sh*t doesn't tickle, girl. Oh, and they don't give you any of the good drugs after this rodeo, like they did last time. You only have the Ibuprofen you buy yourself. And two words: ice pack." I was so focused on birth that I hadn't done much prep for recovery, and for that, I owe my vagina a love letter/mea culpa. And so, without further ado:

Dear Vanessa...

Sorry About The VBAC In General

Because I definitely could have gone for the repeat c-section and just left you out of the birth equation completely. Sorry, but I really wanted you to be involved. You're perfectly designed for the task, so I live in hope that you were enthusiastic about it as well. Still, if this was a major inconvenience to you, I apologize.

Sorry About The "Big" Baby

Yeah, she was definitely a bit of a beast. At least her head wasn't too huge, am I right? Hahahaha *laughter trails off to uncomfortable silence*

Anyway, I had no control over it, but I still feel like acknowledging it is probably appropriate. Don't blame me, blame the gestational diabetes.

Sorry About The Tears

Despite all my best efforts (and diligent kegels), I couldn't protect you from this because, once again: 9 pound baby. I mean, I guess it could have been worse. They could have been third or fourth degree tears. In the grand scheme of things, second degree isn't so terrible. And hey! Look at you, Resilient Rita! You healed perfectly! You're no worse for the wear! Still, I know it wasn't fun, so sorry.

Sorry I Didn't Take It Easy

I felt like if I didn't get right back into the swing of things with my toddler, he was going to get all sad and resentful. And I was more capable of moving around than I had been after my c-section. I guess I got cocky. I should have acknowledged everything you had been through and spent more time resting in bed. My bad.

Sorry My 2 Year Old Kept Accidentally Kicking You

You doesn't mean to be a jerk or anything, but he was clumsy and enthusiastic and not especially careful. Also, as a toddler and someone without a vagina, he doesn't give you your proper due anyway simply because he cannot conceive of your power or delicacy. So I apologize on his behalf. Sorry, Vanessa.

Sorry It Took Me So Long To Make Good Use Of the Peri Bottle

Like, I got that you are supposed to use it to clean up after I "went potty," but it didn't strike me that I could use it while I was peeing to alleviate the stinging feeling of urine on all your swollen, puffy, scarred glory*. I'm sorry. It could have saved us a lot of pain.

[Writer's note to readers, not my vagina: this doesn't happen to everyone, but it does happen, usually due to tearing and/or swelling. Learn from my mistakes! Spray the peri bottle on your fancy bits while you're peeing! Also lean forward. They both help!]

Sorry You Smelled Like Witch Hazel For About A Month

I don't apologize for using witch hazel on chilled sanitary napkins to help soothe you after birth, neither do I expect you to because it really does help. But that smell is, you know, not pleasant. It's a totally natural substance, but it nevertheless smells medical and terrible. I stopped putting that ish on my face because I couldn't take the smell, even though it was great for my skin, and yet I slathered you in it for a good 3-5 weeks. Sorry. At least you felt better.

Sorry I Ran Out Of Those Hospital Panties

We both loved those hideous mesh, mummy-looking panties. How something so flimsy could be so sturdy and comfortable is beyond me. One of the great mysteries of life, I supposed. But there are limits, you know? I could only wear/hand-wash them for so long, and I only had so many pairs. These are just the facts, my dear. Sorry.

Sorry If I Freaked You Out About Sex

Yeah, I was really nervous about having sex for the first time after we pushed out a baby. Because it had been just terrible after the c-section, which wasn't nearly as strenuous for you, so I figured (I don't think unreasonably), "OMG, this is going to be like the kind of torture you read about in books of martyred saints." Sorry if you felt any of that anxiety: I should have known that you are a badass.

Sorry For Doubting You

Deep down, I always knew what a queen you are, but part of me doubted you every step of the way. I doubted if you would be able to deliver a baby. I doubted that you wouldn't break when we were in the midst of delivering a baby. I doubted that you would ever get back to normal. I doubted that we would ever be able to enjoy sex again. But every step of the way you brought it. You are a treasure, Vanessa. I'm sorry. Thank you.