Health

This Mom's Post About Post-Birth Body Trauma Reveals a Side to Motherhood You Don't Often Hear About

There are certain realities to motherhood—specifically during the birth and post-birth process—that we just don't talk about openly. But blogger Zoe George is done with subtlety. 

 

A post shared by Zoe G (@thesubtlemummy) on

George cheekily blogs under "The Subtle Mummy" moniker (one tagline: "as subtle as a brick in your face") and she lived up to that by writing a graphic essay about her "broken vagina."

"This is a candid, telling of events that transpired the night of March 14th leading into March 15th, which resulted in the birth of my first child and 'the broken vagina,'" George writes.

She acknowledges everyone's birth story is "different," and this is hers. Her graphic descriptions don't shy away from what her experience was like, as she writes in her post.

"I tried to do it naturally. Yeah, that didn’t happen," she recalls.

"It was all on – no time for an episiotomy (where they cut you so you don’t split and two holes become one). So, they tore me. SORRY, PLEASE KEEP READING. I remember the doctor leaning back, almost in a squat position, and pulling on those forceps that were around my baby’s head.

[...] These days [my husband] retells the story describing what he saw as similar to that of a massacre/blood bath type of scene. The midwives and doctors told me I lost a third of my blood and, even though I refused a transfusion, I almost didn’t have an option."

Then she describes the moment when she saw, for the first time, what her body looked like post-birth:

"So, that was all over and I was being given a sponge bath in bed by the midwife, oh la la, until she asked me to sit up and I caught a glimpse of my vagina!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Describing it as looking like a hamburger, more like a whopper, would be putting it nicely. That image will be forever burned in my mind. If Frankenstein’s monster had a vagina, I know EXACTLY what it would have looked like."

It isn't about vanity; George's post-birth complications made daily life "a struggle."

"We went home and the struggles began; I struggled with breastfeeding, struggled to pee, struggled to even sit on a toilet without feeling like my insides were going to drop out of the gaping hole that once was my vagina," she writes. "I also struggled with botched stitches. I guess in the rush, with all that blood loss, the staff were more concerned with stopping the bleeding than taking care with my stitches down there."

 

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Her doctor's advice is a reminder that giving birth is an ordeal, and it's "normal" to struggle: "I booked in with my gynecologist and asked him if it was normal. He assured me that it was normal and I had just made a tiny human and there was a lot of trauma so not to expect too much."

 

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Her post-baby body made it harder for her to try for a second child: "I mean I would cry whilst biting on a pillow, enduring sex while my poor husband tried to get the job done as quickly as possible." Her doctor, after a second visit, informed her she had residual scar tissue from her first birth. Additionally, "I managed to traumatise [sic] my vagina to the point of vaginismus."

Vaginismus is a painful health condition.

vaginismus cycle of pain chart

As ATTN: previously reported, vaginismus "affects two out of every 1,000 women," according to Vaginismus.com and New York magazine's "The Science of Us," though, as NY Mag notes

"these statistics are fuzzy because sufferers are often too scared to seek treatment or are misdiagnosed when they do. Melissa Ferrara, a nurse practitioner at New York’s Center for Female Sexuality, estimates that about 25 percent of her patients are seeking treatment for vaginismus, and they tend to be in their 20s or 30s."

But vaginismus is treatable. George received treatment with the aid of dilators. "I have been embarrassed to write this story for a while," George notes near the end of her post, but she explains why she eventually did.

"I told this story to raise awareness of the issue ..."

She continues:

"I am putting the most private information out there for the world to read. Yes, I did put a funny spin on most of it, but that’s how I tell all my stories. If you can’t laugh at life then you cry, and crying aint fun. Please respect that I also come from a culture where we don’t talk about these things openly and I am mortified at the thought of my family reading it, but it’s all for the greater good, I say."

George putting these personal details out there helps more women realize that they're not alone. These are issues of birth that aren't often discussed; it seems like we're more interested in how moms get their "post-baby body back" than we are with realizing the bodily trauma that can come with giving birth. 

baby body back magazine covers

Many moms have praised George for her realness. As one mom commented on George's Instagram, regarding her post, "I had two horrific child births, and I remember clearly the feeling that your insides might just fall out [...] Thank you for being honest and real."