I'm delighted to have this guest blog, written by Chilled Mama Clare. One of the things often not discussed is how our bodes change with pregnancy and birth, and how we feel about these changes. Our stretch marks, our flabby tummy, our caesarean scar, our changed breasts. Our body has changed. And our relationship and feelings about our body need to change, to readjust. I had a small tear in my labia with my first, that wasn't completely stitched. I have a hole there now. A small one. I didn't like to touch it or think about it. Oral sex was a no no. I felt deformed. Until I had my second baby. For some reason that healed me. It doesn't affect me now. Do you have a story about your relationship with your body? Please feel free to comment under this blog, or in my facebook group, or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org . Over to Clare.
I've got my first period since before being pregnant - the first one in 15 months. And my first tampon in 15 months did a cartwheel in my vagina on Friday morning.
I feel a bit traumatised. It's something I've done systematically every month for over 20 years. I've become so adept at it. Knowing how to do it, speedily, at the drop of a hat. And yet on Friday morning, I felt like I was doing it for the first time. I didn't know where it was going. There was no clear path. It got lodged sideways and within ten minutes I had to take it out because of the discomfort.
"It's like watching your favourite pub burn down," say blokes about seeing their partners give birth vaginally. Now I fully appreciate why.
Association with body is so strong. 'My' body. 'My' vagina. The Sivananda yoga chant 'I am not this body... this body is not me...' rings true. The more we identify with this body, the more caught up in it we become. The Buddhist tradition refers to it as 'this' body. It's more detached. We can view things more objectively. I like this but it's hard to do.
I know I've used this body to create another life. I know I've done this beautiful thing. It's a gift. But I'm just going through the process of getting to know this new body - and mourning the loss of the old one - at the same time as getting three solid meals into my son every day, changing numerous shitty nappies and dealing with the ongoing, exhausting and monotonous task of getting him off to sleep. There's also the overwhelming feelings of love, joy and happiness. When he gives me his beaming gummy smile, I feel like Maria on top of that mountain at the start of The Sound of Music. It's a lot to deal with.
I accept that our bodies change but it's normally a gradual thing - an extra pound, a grey hair here and there, deeper wrinkles - but it's a shock to have your vagina suddenly double in size.
I know I'll be ok. I just need some time to process this change. In the meantime I think I'll avoid tampons.