If you want to know the backstory of how vulvodynia, anxiety, and depression affected our decision to have baby #3… read on!
After having the twins in 2014, I was diagnosed with vulvodynia… but the symptoms had been happening for years.
[If you’re new to my blog, vulvodynia symptoms include: stabbing vaginal pain, an intense burning sensation, and rawness]
For our whole marriage I tried to ignore the pain. I developed severe anxiety around any kind of closeness with my husband (even hand-holding or being alone with him made me feel PTSD and it really took a toll on our marriage).
[Note: AJ was doing nothing wrong. It wasn’t HIM… it was the pain my condition caused and the fact that I was trying so desperately to prove that I wasn’t broken that led me to continually try something that always ended in severe pain]
After the twins were born and doctors were validating my condition, AJ and I decided to take time to let my body heal and hopefully reprogram the PTSD-like triggers I had revolving intimacy (aka: we stopped attempting intercourse which obviously is how one gets biologically pregnant without fertility treatments).
Along with the generalized anxiety I have, I developed anxiety and PTSD when it came to having kids. I felt like vomiting every time I thought about attempting intercourse again to try to get pregnant. I wanted to vomit when I considered what adding a third child would do to the balance and equilibrium we had found.
We avoided the subject for years and I came to a place where I felt pretty comfortable that the twins would be our only kids.
Over time, my triggers around closeness to AJ melted away. We built a safe place for me that no longer involved intercourse/pain or the terrifying feeling that I was broken and unworthy of love. We went to therapy together and individually. I did everything my doctors recommended and I tried a bunch of holistic techniques as well.
I stopped thinking about having another child and settled into the life we had built.
Over this past summer I had the thought, “I wonder what it would be like to have a third child“ and I didn’t want to vomit. I was still anxious. But that gut reaction of terror had subsided. I talked to AJ and he was so pleased. He really wanted another kid, but never put pressure on me… instead he let me heal.
After deciding to try for another baby, I started to feel triggered again. I worried constantly about the intercourse aspect of things. I considered artificial insemination because then I could associate the pain with the doctor’s office and not my husband. I talked it over with a group of friends and one of them encouraged me to try intercourse one time. We could stop at any point if it was painful and then we would know. Then I could do artificial insemination and we could continue on with the new normal we had found.
So we tried. And it wasn’t painful. I am used to the fetal position after intercourse. Stabbing pain and a burning pain that lasts for hours. But… none of that happened. I am still in shock that I am finally pain-free.
In time, I got pregnant! I can honestly say we are over the moon about it.
(art by Lovetta Reyes-Cairo, she is amazing!)
I haven’t written in a while about my vulvodynia. I had a CRAZY 2019. And I haven’t quite known how to put it all to words.
Here is a recap: I was diagnosed with MCAS, worked on Intuitive Eating, started EMDR trauma therapy, sunk into a massively deep depression that lasted for months, struggled in our marriage, worked through it together, found amazing healing through EMDR, decided to try for another baby, discovered I am finally pain-free (and no, it’s not a fluke this time), started a business, got pregnant, had a miscarriage-scare but don’t worry… the baby is fine, discovered I have a bunch of cysts on my ovaries (who knew?), bought a house that needs renovations, packed & moved & did a craft fair all in three weeks, and had a perpetual cold through the past two months.
So… yeah. That about sums it up.