Before you get all excited that my vagina has taken up the 10,000 steps program, this is a re-post from a piece I wrote for everyone’s internet heroine Scary Mommy. I’m running it here, with some editing, because I had the good fortune to read it aloud this past weekend. Some of you have probably perused it on the initial pass, and now others of you have had the singular experience of listening to the word ‘vagina’ reverberate through a crowded banquet room. Since then I’ve gotten requests from people who have neither read nor heard it to see it posted. And because I’m on vacation with my family, I’m not above passing an old post off as a new one.
To the inimitible Ann Imig, author of work I never miss and the creator of the Listen To Your Mother Show, I thank you for not discreetly tossing my randomly selected name back into the hat from which it was drawn, instead allowing me to talk some nonsense from a podium on your stage. The only time I have ever been as close as I was to vomiting in public was when I mustered the mettle in 7th grade to tell Jacob Ornellis that I liked his skateboard.
DEAD VAGINA WALKING
The six week postpartum checkup.
It’s the appointment in which the OB will stare at your nethers under the glare of a strobe light mounted to a hardhat as she asks leading questions to discern how many times you’ve fallen down the stairs in a fit of delirium and how closely you identify with the movie The Omen. As you gently hint at the likelihood of getting a script for Tylenol PM for Infants, your doctor will smile at you, offer congratulations for your bundle of colic, and will utter the one sentence you are – no matter what her speculum says – entirely unprepared to hear:
You can now resume sexual activity.
Your Gone Fishin’ sign was just yanked right off your vagina. Mayan Year 2012 hit your private parts.
If this visit follows the birth of your first baby, your husband is likely standing beside the table as this news is delivered. The grin to spread across his face will outstretch the one you saw when he was first handed his newborn child. The smile fades as he witnesses your descent through The Five Stages of Grief, all of which occur in dramatic flair with your knees still touching opposite coastlines.
Denial. “I think you have the wrong file. I just delivered a baby. A human. See, that’s her right there. That was inside of my body until she tore her way through it, like a goddamn Trojan Horse. Are you certain you went to medical school?”
Anger. “Why did you ask me here? I was told by a woman I work with that you were going to give me happy pills at this appointment, not tell me I need to be having sex with… (unsubtle head tilt in partner’s direction). And I would like my underwear back now.”
Bargaining. “Listen, I may have overreacted. Let’s find some middle ground. You pop a couple of those episiotomy stitches down there and I’ll tell all of my friends with yeast infections to come see you. Deal?”
Depression. The utterance of words during the passage through this phase ceases altogether as you consider that the only moments your day permits for a shower and a status update on Facebook have been stolen.
Acceptance. You nod slowly, shifting your eyes from the doctor, to the baby, to your husband, understanding that all are working in chorus to destroy your personal anatomy and your DVR queue.
You exit the physician’s office, quite possibly still wearing the oversized Maxi pads you absconded with from the hospital, with a slow and wearied gate.
Dead Vagina Walking.
Your husband, on the other hand, has a buoyancy to his step and is already suggestively whistling something by Marvin Gaye. This is when the calendar floats into your consciousness. Whatever day this 6 week postpartum check falls on – a Tuesday, a Friday, May, December – is the day that will be listed on your tombstone. This is the day you’re going to die. Your friends and family will eulogize your life with somber nods, “She endured too much. Sleeplessness, poor oral hygiene, elasticized waistbands, a diet of fistfuls of cereal. Despite this, her doctor told her she was ready for exercise and sex. It was too much to bear.”
Your body has been hijacked by hormones, your erogenous zones assassinated by nursing, and your ability to lay prone in the dark without falling comatose has been lost. And you’re a bit terrified because your lady innards still feel a lot like Hiroshima must have looked after the A-bomb.
However, he will start dry humping your leg like an un-neutered Jack Russell Terrier if you continue to cite ‘funky stuff you don’t want to even know about down there’ as your reason for celibacy. He will start to suspect you’re stretching the truth when you say you’re considering a Divine calling to join a Roman convent.
So you will. You will ‘do it’. And it will be fine.
But it’s completely fair to say you’re not taking your sweatpants off.