An Experience With Granulation Tissue (includes some graphic detail)

Before I gave birth to my son, there were many folks who wanted to talk to me about my impending baby, and all the changes to my body I would experience as a fledgling mami. “Your hair is going to be so long and luxurious!”, “Your skin will absolutely have that gorgeous baby glow!”, “Your boobs are going to be giGANtic!”, and the comments go on.

No one ever told me, however, that I would get a couple stretch marks, towards the end, even though I bathed myself in an oil blend twice daily. They didn’t mention how awful my heartburn would be, or that I would develop plantar fasciitis (jogger’s heel), or that I would become temporarily, and for the first time in my life, iron-deficient anemic, after Mr. Sweetie arrived.

Don’t misunderstand. I had a wonderful pregnancy! I was the epitome of bliss! But it was because I chose to look at the things that were cute and sweet and magical about it, not because every bejeweled moment passed quietly or comfortably.

The most recent experience I have had regarding things that I was never aware of pre-motherhood concerns the healing process after giving birth. Yep, it’s going to be a bit graphic. But I am choosing to go for the gold on this one, whether the information is too much or not, because it is all about the education of it, and letting others know that they are not alone.

You see, when Mr. Sweetie was born, I pushed the daylights out of myself. Because of this, I ended up with a first-degree tear. My midwife asked me if I would like stitches, and, since needles are my archenemy, I said no, after asking if it was necessary. She told me it would heal just fine on its own, given the proper time and care, so I opted to pass.

It took longer to heal than expected, probably partially due to the fact that I made the mistake of squatting not quite a week postpartum to pick something up off the ground, and re-injured myself. Ouch doesn’t even begin to describe it.

At my six-week checkup, the midwife told me that I looked like I was still healing up, and that I should wait another couple weeks before attempting to resume sexual activity. So we waited, in high anticipation. Finally, about two and a half months into parenthood, we tried it.

“Tried” is a very key and operative word here, because it didn’t work. It hurt like someone was cutting me open in the crotch, and there was a strong burning feeling. I had experienced really intense itching in the same region starting about a week postpartum that stretched into about the second month, but I had already been to the doctor to test for any sign of an infection, and it was negative. It had been ruled that I was itchy due to the skin healing itself, and possibly a little bit for having to wear thick, heavy pads, to catch all the extra blood, every day for the first two to three weeks. Suffice to say, I knew I wasn’t suffering from any sort of infection.

I decided I wasn’t healed up very well, yet. We waited almost another month, then tried again.

I still couldn’t go through with it. This was using tons and tons of lube, even. Not only was it not enjoyable to me anymore, I was being hurt by it. For a woman who has always thoroughly enjoyed intercourse, this was like the most horrid of death sentences. I frantically swatted counterproductive images of never being able to like sex again out of my head, and vowed to keep trying, through the pain.

A couple weeks later (to help you out with a time frame, by now we are into the fourth month postpartum), we tried again. This time, there was a ghost of my enjoyment in the first minute or two! I felt like we were making progress, and maybe I had just healed up a bit tight, or the muscles still needed to remember to relax, or something of the like. It was the first time that my husband and I had sex that we moved completely through from start to finish, and I felt accomplished!

We started making time usually once a week, occasionally missing a week here and there, for the next four months. I kept doing it because I love being that close to my husband, and also because I wanted so badly to believe that this was something that was passing, working itself out, and getting gone. I just felt like things would be fine the next time.

Every time, it went the same. There was no more cutting feeling, but, no matter how much lube we used, it burned something awful, and I would bleed afterwards. Remember, folks, this is EIGHT MONTHS postpartum.

I finally decided that I needed to see someone, so I scheduled an appointment with my favorite nurse, who works for a local OBGYN, and went to see what she would say. After some questions, she thought she knew exactly what was going on, and, after an examination, she confirmed it.

“You have granulation tissue, also known as ‘proud flesh’. Basically, in one area, your body over-healed, creating a sensitive spot of skin. It is being rubbed and irritated during sex, making it burn, and it bleeds easily, so there you have your symptoms.”

I had never heard of this happening! The nurse said it is pretty normal, and sometimes occurs on the stump of a newborn’s umbilical cord, as well. It seems that the high levels of hormones that roar around leading up to, and following, a birth, can act like Miracle Gro on healing skin, for mami and sweetie!

“So…what can we do about it?” I was hoping she wouldn’t say surgery. Drat! That looked like where this was going.

“You can do surgery,” she said. “It can be frozen off, or it can be cauterized.”

I don’t particularly like the options. I pause.

“It’s cauterized using silver nitrite. If you want it treated now, I’ve already got the silver ready.” She holds up this terrifying-looking thing, like a gigantic matchstick. Gulp. I hadn’t really mentally prepared to have it addressed in such an immediate and drastic way!

I hemmed a little. Maybe I hawed. I wasn’t sure how I felt about cauterizing my vagina. You know, delicate areas, and all. But I was so past ready to be feeling good about sex again that I decided I was already there, and would be foolish not to see it through.

“What’s the likelihood of scar tissue?” I asked.

“There isn’t any scar tissue. But you may have to get this done more than just this once, if the skin is stubborn, and grows back at first.”

More than once? Not excited to hear that, but…no scar tissue is a good thing.

“Okay,” I said. “I’ll do it.”

And I lay back.

It’s funny how I knew exactly when she started, because she began carrying on a conversation non-stop with me. About five seconds after beginning, I felt a pinching feeling that got stronger until it started to burn, then sear a little. Within fifteen seconds, I went from mildly distracted to in near-crippling pain. Then the feeling flattened out into a throbbing kind of burn, not dissimilar to the one I got having sex.

“All done!” She said cheerfully, and left the room so I could dress. The rest of the day was not particularly pleasant, but the next day was a little better, and that was yesterday. Today there is no more bleeding – which was light following the cauterization, but nevertheless, still there.

Why am I telling this very personal story?

Because I have been thinking, over the past few weeks, how I wish that I had read more into the changes of my body through pregnancy and beyond. It’s an aspect of pregnancy and post-pregnancy that isn’t spoken of very often from mami to mami. This I understand, because it is not all guaranteed to happen to everyone, so why scare somebody who may never go through it? But I think it is beneficial to others to share the knowledge we have, and to encourage open communication about bodies in different stages of life, so that we can become healthier and happier people through the connection of awareness of our bodies. And the only way we become more comfortable with talking about our bodies and gaining support and advice from others is by sharing stories like this one. I want to see a world where women are comfortable with birthing, knowledgeable of the fact that it isn’t all easy or pleasant, but that this realization in and of itself is not a positive one, nor a negative one. It just is. If you choose to experience it, or be a part of the experience, it is just another stage and phase in life that brings with it emotions, creaks and cracks, and hormonal fluctuations. And when you smile down at your little sweetie, none of these things will be more bothersome to you than your sweetie is beautiful, and your discomfort will be worth it.

I wish that I had known this could happen to me. I would have gone to see my lovely nurse a long time ago. But I have learned, and I hope I have passed on an experience that may help you, or someone you know!

Mamis out there: you are not only creating life and starting a family; you have taken the opportunity to be a part of the group of people around the world who are shaping the children that will fill your shoes tomorrow. Whenever you have a rough day, or if you are suffering from an emotional or physical ailment during or after birth, I hope you will remember this: you are arguably the most essential part of what keeps the world going, and it’s okay if that is a little too heavy or exhausting some days, or painful. You are truly appreciated for what you wake up at all hours to do, whether it’s applauded or not, whether it is noticed or not. So take care of yourselves, okay? Rock on!

 

Have you ever had granulation tissue before? Have you had any other experiences with bodily changes during pregnancy and/or postpartum? Would you be willing to share your experience with other mamis in the spirit of support and open communication? If so, please leave a comment in the space below! Thanks for reading!

 

Encouraging Empowered Mamis Everywhere To Do What They Do

 

 

Mami

Mami is an artist, aspiring entrepreneur, and first-time, full-time mother. She enjoys long walks with Mr. Sweetie, good food and cooking, her family and dear friends, writing, arting and crafting. She doesn't know everything, but wants to learn, and loves to do research and share what she finds. She thinks life is like a box of puzzle pieces: you keep trying until it fits, because every piece has its place. She owns and operates whatever she sets her mind to, and knows that the sky is only the limit if you haven't left the ground yet.

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1 Response

  1. Rebecca says:

    Poor mama! I had some scarring, apparently some pretty minimal stuff, but still needed one stitch I guess.. I don’t think I wanted to have sex until about month 5. I had a really hard time with wanting to do it during the 1st and 3rd trimesters too! My sweet patient husband just stopped trying to get me to after a while. I’ve always felt so guilty and horrible for allowing it to get like that. Through the really tough times, we can look back now and say that we pulled through it and that it made our relationship stronger though.

    I hope you have a quick recovery!

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