After the traumatic birth of my son I received 86 stitches to repair my vagina.
What the stitches couldn’t repair was my own relationship with my vagina; both had changed beyond any recognition. When I eventually plucked up the courage to hold up a hand mirror I went into deep shock and depression followed.
I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome four and a half years later when my GP suggested I saw a counselor when I refused a regular smear examination and admitted that no one (even me) was going ‘down there’. I was a mutant and couldn’t see how talking was going to resolve anything. The only thing that I felt could help was major surgery and a major miracle because I couldn’t even bare the idea of talking about it, to anyone.
My husband who was also deeply traumatised by the birth shut down and I took his fear and disinterest as rejection associated it with my appearance and blamed myself.
I had been so prepared for the perfect birth, yet no information seemed to be available on the consequences of birth on the vagina not before or after. I was told to get over it by medical staff and to be grateful I had a healthy son.
I felt part of me died when I gave birth and I became a non sexual being. I dressed in grey camouflaged to the world and dug deep into my work, to define a new identity where I was seen and everything was ok. All looked perfect, I was in total control.
It was with a new sexual encounter 18 years later that the doors to my inner sexual being were flung open enabling me to reconnect to a part of me that was so lost. It felt so good to be in a physical relationship again but I was riddled with insecurities about my appearance. I started looking into surgery and on that search came across Jamie’s work on the ‘Designer Vagina’ programme on TV. Supportive words and gentle encouragement led me on a journey of self that is still evolving. A new partner has helped me recover my confidence and self esteem. The hand mirror came out again and I started to research information on trauma during birth and found I was not alone.
Many women suffer insecurities and fears relating to their vaginas. Deep wounds remain hidden because it is not talked about. I found myself on chat rooms for new mothers who were confused about what had happened, with them trying to come to terms with physical changes that their partners are unable to support them through. So shocking that women are allowed to worry alone. My research took me into porn, masturbation and teenage sex.
The sex industry seems now to be fuelling a new generation of teenage girls having surgery to fit the ‘normal’ profile which is so worrying and it got me thinking…. The faster we could get images of REAL vaginas out there the better. Jamie comes back into my lounge, this time a programme on teenage sex to help a teenage boy appreciate his girlfriend’s vagina more. That was it – I felt I was ready to show the world my muff.
I contacted Jamie and two days later was happily spread akimbo in his studio having my glory cast in plaster for all to see, for all to understand for all to celebrate how different we all are. I was tempted oh so tempted to ask for a comment…’so how do I look then’? Clearly a viable opinion could be given this man had seen 400 vaginas! I restrained myself thinking I would regret the feedback, but knowing it was the remainder of my insecurity fading away.
I walked out of the studio and onto Brighton Sea Front and realised a huge healing was taking place. I didn’t mind what he thought, my vagina was mine and as different and as beautiful as all the other women’s vaginas. Throughout my journey the word ‘normal’ has played such a large part of my enquiry, I now know there is no such thing! Each of us is unique and special.