I'm Kate, and I am a C-section advocate. I liked the long hospital stay, the scheduled birth date (I'm a planner), and, yes, I'll admit that after hearing horror stories from friends who endured fourth-degree tears, stitches, and more, I liked that a C-section was more likely to keep my lady parts in their prebaby state. Or so I assumed.
After my first C-section (which followed 16 hours of labor and a "failure to progress" diagnosis), in most ways, I recovered quickly. But months (OK, years) later, my husband was still telling me that something wasn't right "down there." Sex was painful, therefore, I didn't want to do it as much, but I chalked it all up to having a new baby, then a toddler, and the myriad related stresses.
Then I had my second C-section, which I told friends was a breeze. I was up showering all by myself hours after the surgery, feeling like a baby-delivering champ. But six weeks later, when my husband convinced me it was time to get back on the wagon, so to speak, I realized that the problem (sex = ouch!) that I didn't want to address in the almost three years between having my daughter and son had reached a tipping point. Sex wasn't just painful; it was impossible, tear-inducing, and traumatic for both of us.
I decided it was time to talk to my doctor. What I didn't expect was for her to immediately offer up a solution. "You have muscle spasms in your vagina," she told me. "You need to go to pelvic floor physical therapy. Usually it takes about eight sessions." "Physical therapy for my vagina?" I asked. "That's a thing?"
Apparently it is. My doctor explained that spasms are equally likely to affect women who give birth naturally or through a C-section, since they are caused by the stress the baby's weight puts on the pelvic floor, not the birthing process. I guess I was right when I claimed my body hated being pregnant. It was literally quivering in revolt.
So, a couple of weeks later, I found myself entering my local ATI Physical Therapy, where I met my therapist, a sweet woman about my age, who ushered me into a private room and then spent an hour manipulating, massaging, and stretching my vagina back into shape.
She manually worked on relaxing trigger points (it was as intimate as it sounds), then hooked me up to an electro-therapy machine that uses strategically placed electrodes to increase blood flow and help me heal. And when all of that dramatically helped but didn't completely fix the spasm problem, she sent me back to my doctor for the last-resort injection she'd warned me about. It was as bad as I'd imagined, a sort of Botox shot for the interior of my vagina. If the injection itself wasn't traumatic enough (imagine forceps and an extralong needle), I unfortunately also had a bad reaction to the muscle-relaxing medicine, and it left me feeling nauseous and ill for two days.
At that point, I had spent more than two months rehabilitating my vagina. Was it fun? Um, hell no. But I'll admit, it worked. Things are a lot less painful and a lot more fun down there on those rare days that sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, and temper tantrums don't drain all the sexy out of me. Here's to hoping that any future kinds of therapy my kids force me into are just as effective.