To my dear midwife:
I miss you every day. It sounds weird, doesn’t it? To miss a care provider? But I do and it’s uncomfortable and scary for me to write this and set it free. I’m not writing this post to hurt your feelings, to get you in trouble, or to encourage your firing. Rather, I’m writing this to help the countless women who will read this and nod their heads, finally knowing that they too are not alone……because women feel utterly alone when it comes to their sad, damaged pelvic floors and vaginas.
I have no perineum and it is your fault.
I wrote it about it in my first post for this blog, glancing over the major details. Shuffling blame, taking some of my own. And I talk about it in person like I forgot my perineum on the kitchen counter beside my lunch. Kind of sucks. Not really a big deal.
But it’s a bfd.
Every time I pull down my underwear and see the telltale shit streaks I remember. I remember that delicious-smelling baby on my chest, snuffling around for a nipple, while you were between my legs carefully suturing those torn tissues.
But you didn’t do it the right way. Your meticulous and thoughtful sutures repaired my perineum apart, not together to heal back into its original form. I know this because this is the second time you carefully and thoughtfully sutured my perineum apart. The only difference this time is my perineum wasn’t repaired properly the first time and now this time there was less of it to tear. And that repair – lack of reconstruction – has left me disfigured, damaged, ashamed and has changed how I feel about myself as a woman.
At a month postpartum I bought fanny wipes for lady parts. It was an expensive purchase but I needed something less than baby wipes but less medicated than hemorrhoid butt wipes. At first it was because my newly healed tissues were burnt by the baby wipes. Later on it because about preserving a shred of my dignity. Dignity is short on supply with prolapses and a sad, floppy and cavernous vagina missing its protective stretch of perineum.
I’m stuck in this emotional eddy every time I wipe my bottom. I sit on the toilet, tissue paper in hand. I sigh. Then I wipe. If I have only peed then it’s a pat at the front to dry with a big ol’ wipe from back to front, opposite what we as women are taught in order to prevent UTIs and other vagina infections.
But wiping my bottom front to back is often uncomfortable, sometimes painful because I don’t have a perineum to provide an incredibly useful skin barrier between my anus and my vagina. Wiping front to back requires a smooth band of tissue, which I no longer possess. What makes matters worse is that when I have a bowel movement, shit (literally) gets everywhere. The perineum is a two inch barrier between the vagina and the anus and it makes all the difference in the world as to whether or not you have to clean out your vagina after pooping.
TMI? Probably. But it’s part of my story and, I would wager, some other woman’s as well.
I am disgusting. I am disgusted with myself. I don’t want to touch my lady parts and I sure as hell don’t want anybody else to touch them either.
I refuse to have sex with my husband – even though that was the FIRST activity I was cleared for by all of my health care providers. No running. No heavy weights. Sex ok. As if I want a penis in that trainwreck down there.
Everything is different in the worst way and I don’t want my husband to see me or touch me. Never mind smell me if I haven’t scrubbed everything clean with a lady bottom wipe and had a bath. Even then, I can’t always get myself clean.
I love you, my dear midwife. Your grace. Your laugh. The way you throw your head back and howl with laughter when I said something outlandish which, since it’s me I’m talking about, is pretty often. The way you would calm to a chuckle with a “oh girl” in your gorgeous accent. The curve of your nose. Your dark freckles dotting your face like beautiful constellations. Your soft, kind hands that were always ice cold.
But there’s this elephant.
That elephant is my perineum that wasn’t reconstructed. I have suffered devastating pelvic floor dysfunction because of it, I am in counselling to deal with the shame and despair it causes me, and I am waiting to begin menstruating again so I can have surgery to repair it. I wouldn’t have needed surgery if you had just called someone to help, maybe an obstetric resident.
I wish you had gotten an obstetric doctor to help you. My husband wishes this too. He can’t bear to hear me talk about it anymore. He hates himself because he knew. He knew.
He saw the amount of blood left on the chux pads after my baby came barreling earthside. He heard you say the words “tear” and “suture” and he remembered the aftermath and sadness after my first birth where my perineum wasn’t repaired properly. My husband knew that if I had torn, because of my abnormally short perineum, it was all the way to or through my anus. He wanted to scream “GET SOMEONE ELSE.” But he was afraid.
Because he loves you too.
And he didn’t want to hurt your feelings.
So here I am. Writing to you in a post that you’re probably never going to read because out of my 200 odd followers, you are not one. Mine is not a popular blog, and this post will reach a very few, though hopefully one among all the readers will be able to relate and will feel less alone and more able to insist on second opinions and talk about perineal reconstruction before her baby is born.
But if, by chance, you do read this post you will feel a deep sadness in your soul because it is who you are. You are caring, compassionate and selfless, a person of integrity. This will hurt you, and I’m sorry for that. Because, my dear midwife, my time spent with you has been some of the sweetest memories in my life and I can’t imagine anybody catching my babies but you.