At church last night my friend’s husband and I had a frank chat about birthing. I was excited when the conversation moved in the direction of vaginal tears. Even though he said cheerfully, “Stitch, stitch, stitch and it’s done,” there was slight indication it was a gnarly affair.
I probed, “But how was it afterward?” He explained it was sore and took a little while to heal, but then it was good as new. “Good as new?” I doubted.
“But you can tell it was once ripped to shreds, yes?”
“Um… no… not really.”
“It looks the same? Before and After: No difference?”
“Well…” (Pause) He leaned confidentially and said, “What exactly are you asking here?” It then dawned on me that we were discussing his wife’s/my friend’s actual vagina. I brushed it off with something about it not really mattering anyway. “You’re not going to put a picture of it on the mantel,” he said, “it’s nothing you’re going to take out and show the family.” True, true.
When I asked how one gets the abdomen back to its original form he replied, “Surgery!” I realized all this time I should have been talking post-birth-vagine with men/partners not the birthing women themselves, because with a little more probing I might have stumbled on a wealth of new information. What did it look like before? What does it look like after? Is there scarring? Does it feel different? These are mere curiosities, nothing extravagant. It’s no different than when I was a child and I spent years wondering if a dog raised in a French-speaking country would comprehend English commands. It was present in my mind for a long, long time, until I met a boy who spoke French and had him ask my dog to sit. Even though I’d coached him on using my specific intonations, my dog hadn’t the foggiest idea what he was saying. This made space in my head for whatever curiosities came next. So until these vagina musings are satisfied, they’ll be occupying valuable thought-space. And men/partners might be just the ticket. The problem is, all the men I know are married to my friends and there’s just no way to unearth the secrets of their wives’ vagina’s, and let’s face it, that would be very wrong anyway. This means I’ll have to find male strangers who are willing to devulge precious info. It can be accomplished (though much easier if I were joining them in many beers). One friend of mine assured me that a woman’s body is an extraordinary thing and miraculously all goes back to normal after birth. But she’s only one. And anyway, I’m interested in a collection of women’s bodies. This new avenue is more promising because I’ve always related better to supposed man issues. Example: It’s perfectly acceptable for men to have a longing for freedom, the need for space, a high sex drive, the desire for adventure, a restlessness about them while thousands of women just like me feel these very same pangs. But in ten years of marriage only ONE woman friend has ever owned these feelings. ONE. In TEN years. Yet men are practically expected to have these feelings. What does this say about us? Is there a contentment gene I’m missing? Does curiosity always kill the cat? Once in a while doesn’t the cat simply discover something new and move on?