Of all the things I requested not having during all three of my births, there was one thing I did specifically ask for: the husband stitch. In case you haven't heard of it, a "husband stitch" is an extra stitch added in the vaginal opening after delivery to ... well, I'm sure you can figure it out.
Yes, I hate the name and what it stands for. I hate that some women get it and they don't even ask for it or even know such a thing exists. I hate that it's a thing women get because they feel like they need to keep their body feeling "the same" for a man. That's not why I wanted it, though.
Each time I got close to my delivery day, I would tell my midwife in a private appointment how I wanted my vagina to be as close to what it once was after I had the baby—and if that meant she thought I needed an extra stitch, to go for it. Turns out when you have third-degree tearing, you need it.
To be clear, my husband didn't ask me to do this. In fact, we never spoke about it, not even after we started having sex again. I never once asked him if I felt the same to him, either.
I got that stitch for my pleasure. I did it for me. I wanted sex to feel like it always had. Our bodies change so much after having kids, and if she could make my vagina feel and look the same as it was before, I was all in. Give me the stitch!
I know women have had pain and complications with the extra stitch, but I've never regretted it. I tore so badly, especially with my second and third, that when I was healed, it was comforting to feel and look the same down there as I once did.
The point is, I had a choice and I spoke up about what was best for me.
My boobs are different, my stomach is different and I am 100 percent different, but I find comfort in feeling the same pleasure I always have during sexual intercourse and I won't apologize for that. I'm not afraid to admit I wanted to continue to feel pleasure having sex with my husband and I didn't want that taken away. It doesn't mean I sacrificed a part of myself for a man.
To me, if feels more like I did something for me because I enjoy feeling a certain way and I wanted to keep feeling that way. The point is, I had a choice and I spoke up about what was best for me.
I believe all women should have this talk with their doctor or midwife before they go into labor, so everyone is very clear about what they do and don't want. These days, you can say if you want to tear naturally, have an episiotomy or get that extra stitch (or not). And I've talked to all different women who have made different decisions for various reasons. But you, as the patient, have to be the one to bring it up and advocate for yourself.
It's your right to be vocal about what you want; after all, it's your body. We decide if we want to breastfeed, co-sleep, go back to work or stay at home. And we should have a say in how we want our vagina to feel after we've given birth.
How our body changes isn't always under our control. I'll take the stretch marks, the fact that some of my body parts have dropped two inches and, for some reason, my hands and feet are extra sensitive since giving birth. I'll even embrace these changes.
But my vagina is mine. And if a simple stitch can make put me back together in a way that makes me feel good and confident about myself, that's my choice, too.