I had the surgery.
My wonderful husband got me ice packs, rented movies, and listened to me complain during the 6 weeks that I was either entirely motionless or walking about in very limited fashion.
I saw the doctor.
He told me to do dilators every day for 10 minutes, moving up in size when the size I had started with felt comfortable.
I avoided doing the dilators for weeks, even though I knew that wasn't intelligent. My husband talked me into doing them.
I started doing them diligently. Even when lubricated, the first one still hurt a little bit- almost like a twinge of pain. I think this may have been because I tensed due to my fear that I would feel pain. But then, I started to realize that if I really did put in those 10 minutes every day or night, I could see the results. The muscles were being stretched. I was being stretched. The pain dissipated after that first insertion.
The longer amount of time I took, the more comfortable the dilators felt. I started to advance to the largest sizes.
I started being able to fit the largest size. I also practiced inserting the dildo.
The doctor had said I could wait till he gave me the green light in November to go ahead and try to make love, but I felt ready.
The dilators fit. The pain was gone. There was some soreness, and some twinges of pain, but this is what the doctor had told me to expect, and it was nothing like what I had felt before. Then, it was excruciating. Now, it was normal pain.
I was ready.
My husband and I made love. It worked. It wasn't painful.
We laughed. We teared up. It's like we're on our honeymoon.
And just like many virgins doubtless discover on their honeymoon, I learned that too much sex (without enough breathing time in between) makes me sore, and that I need to take breaks. But that's a normal discovery, one that many women share.
I learned that I still feel that twinge of pain every time I insert the first dilator, and that if I don't take my time to ensure that I've really dilated properly, I'll feel pain during intercourse as well. The doctor told me the first 10-15 times I have sex, I need to really dilate well. I'll probably continue doing it past that recommended number of times.
But if I follow instructions, lubricate my dilators, and dilate for a while (I prefer 20 minutes to a mere 10), then my husband and I can make love. We can discover new positions. We can have fun. We can even- unbelievably- take sex for granted. Not even really think about it. Because now we know we can do it. We can have it. We've got it.
Those first few times, we were overcome. By gratitude. By happiness. By astonishment. But we were also giggling as we struggled to figure out how everything worked- now that we could figure those things out, now that the surgery had been successful.
And now- unbelievably- it's a normal thing for us. Which it shouldn't be. I want to try to retain that sense of wonder. But it's hard to do that when things are working normally. We should get up every day and stare at our hand and say, "Wow, this hand is so amazing. It can grasp objects. Its fingers can type words. It can stroke a child's hair. It can caress my husband." But in the hustle and bustle of life, we don't do that. We take it for granted. Because we can.
And now we're in that stage. The stage we want to try to get out of, since we know we shouldn't take it for granted. Because it took such a long time to get here. But we're here. We've arrived. Everything works. We have the mind-space to think about other things. To worry about other things. To move on. To be happy. To be in love. To fall into bed together.
We owe the doctor. We owe God. We owe my husband's persistence in deciding we needed to stay together. The husband who deals with my self-doubt when, lying in bed, I wonder whether I made this all up. Whether if I had just done my dilators diligently to begin with, I would have been able to have sex normally. Whether the surgery is just a placebo effect. But my husband was there with me through all of it, and he reassures me this was not in my head. It was real pain. It really existed. It made physicality between us impossible. And I find it hard to believe him because I - blessedly- have actually forgotten that pain. Not entirely. But enough. Enough to doubt it. Enough to wonder.
And then I see that yes, that first dilator always hurts- there's that twinge of pain- but then they stop hurting. And that never happened with the dilators before now. They always hurt. Every time they were inserted. Every single time. So no. It wasn't all in my head. It was real.
Now it's close to being over.
And we're beginning.
Me. My husband. Our future children. Our family.
God blessed me. Or perhaps, as it says in the Bible, He remembered me.
I get anxious when things are going well. I feel concerned that I'm due for something bad.
Luckily, even if something bad happens, I know my husband will help me with it. I know my friends will care. I'm hopeful that I'll make it out, not only alive, but happily. As I am now. I'm happy now. I can be with my husband. Really be with him. It's an incredible ability. We can be one.