What happens when your vagina's been through war.
Sometimes I think back to the heady, lusty early days when my husband (then boyfriend) and I couldn't keep our hands off each other. The days when lust would overtake us and we'd have to dash off and have sex in a bathroom or in the cloakroom of a party. My eyes fill with tears as I wonder how we ended up in the place that we're in now: a sexless barren desert.
But let's back up a bit.
The drought started when I found out when I was pregnant. During pregnancy, I had carried so much water I resembled a beached whale with ankles like a wrestler. (Who knew that you could actually break Birkenstock sandal buckles? You can. Trust me.) Thoroughout my entire pregnancy, I didn't feel a tiny bit sexy. Yes, my boobs were taking over the world and my hair was shining and my skin had a bright glow, but those huge breasts ached to the point of me biting into a pillow in pain and my body developed irritating little skin tags that jagged on everything I wore. I didn't want to be touched. I felt like I was merely a baby-creating machine—no longer a person, just a vessel.
Nine months passed, then my baby was born via planned C-section. Not only did I have a raging scar on my abdomen but I was allergic to the adhesive on the bandage that had covered it, which resulted in a scaly red rash all around my already ugly nether regions. (Oh, and they also shave half your pubic hair in sections so it resembles an angry garden gnome.) My husband took one look at the area where the baby had come from and said, "Your vagina has gone to war."
It was not a time for sex. I gave my sanity and body over to this small mewing bundle, all the while missing the girl I had once been and the boy who had once loved her (and ravaged her). Months passed until I shoved myself back into my old skinny jeans and insisted to my husband that we go on an overnight date to a swanky hotel. Giddy at being able to drink a cocktail again (breastfeeding had gone out the window along with maternity bras), we drank far too much and ended up falling asleep in our expensive hotel room before we even had a chance to take each other's clothes off.
Fast forward three months from our hotel date. We still hadn't had sex since I became pregnant. I decided, insisted really, that we simply had to get back in the saddle even though the thought of having sex with a man I had watched knee deep in diaper poop didn't exactly excite me. In fact, I'll wager no woman post-baby ever feels the same about sex. It's beyond difficult to muster up eroticism and mystery with someone you've shared a bathroom with. (Familiarity doesn't necessarily breed contentment, but it does breed festering irritations and nagging doubts about why a married couple ever got together in the first place.)
I insisted we go for dinner, not overdo it on the drinks, then go home, darken all the lights and, well, force ourselves to feel like it. I'm not going to lie, it wasn't the best sex of our lives, nor was it the worst. It was just ... familiar. Comforting. A relief. An 'Ahhh, we can actually do this'. For a while, I'd wondered if I'd ever be able to have sex with my husband again, thinking it might be easier to have sex wth a stranger rather than someone who knew me inside out. No, I didn't feel shy and nervous, like some born again virgin. I felt better than that. I felt like coming home.