Now that everything's beginning to settle down - despite swelling and skin discoloration that may linger on for weeks ahead - I'm getting an increasing sense of what it will all mean for me. I'm not referring to the long-foreseeable psychological benefits, or anything theoretical. I'm speaking about real matters that you simply can't experience until you've actually had the surgery, and begin to live with the direct physical consequences. All of them good consequences, I hasten to add!
First of all, there is your basic shape. Once you can stand up straight, and move freely, you realise that you are now physically sleek and neat and tidy. The funny dangly bits that spoilt your look, and made you feel front-heavy, have gone. All you can see, from whatever angle, is a smooth surface. Even the plump bits look nice, and in general you look integrated, coherent, all of one piece, and most definitely female-shaped.
In my own particular case, I now want to wear body-hugging clothes that reveal my figure and suggest fitness, lissomness, health and an active life. And such is my self-belief that I think I can get away with it. For instance, I went to the doctor this morning attired in a black cami-top, black leggings, a wine red Seasalt cord jacket with turned-back cuffs, champagne-coloured pumps, my usual minimum silver jewellery, the black leather Radley bag, and the Cath Kidston shopping bag with some medical stuff in it. I looked slightly too 'Brighton Lanes' for a doctor's appointment, but it was a gorgeous morning and I felt gorgeous. So I dressed to match my mood. It didn't stop me enjoying some articles in Good Housekeeping magazine while waiting, nor chatting to an elderly lady with a most interesting life history. My usual doctor, Karen Hancock, thought I looked really well: she meant my demeanour and skin colour and other such things, but as I said to her, when you are doing fine you actually want to make an effort with everything about yourself. Wellbeing instills you with confidence and tremendous self-worth if nothing else. (I think I'll make a hair appointment when I've finished this post, the first since January, apart from a fringe trim in February)
Let's talk about the new bits in detail. I am intrigued to get to know them little by little. They have literally been revealed in slow-motion as the swelling subsides, gradually coming out of hiding so to speak.
One thing that struck me from the first was how invisible they are to me. My mons pubis is a bit oversized just now, and nothing south of it can be viewed without resorting to a hand mirror. But even when it assumes more modest proportions, the various female attractions will still be out of sight. I imagine that in the distant past, some women could well have gone through life without ever having a proper look at what was down there, a combination of ignorance and prudery stopping them taking an active interest; and perhaps in some cases the lack of a good enough mirror.
Even in the mirror, whether full-length or hand-held, there is really nothing to see, just a slit. It all looks very neat and economical, like a cleft in a smoothly shaped stone, reminiscent of how things are in a Japanese garden. The parts within are not open to view. I can see now exactly why women can feel completely comfortable with nudity. I thought once that it was something to do with brazen sexiness and a willingness to show off your wares. But it's simply that there is nothing to see except a smooth body, as featureless as a robot's, and so - between women anyway - nudity is trivial.
Let's work through the individual parts.
For now, I've nothing to say about my new clitoris, right up there at the top, except to remark that it's well positioned, and within very convenient reach if I may say so! It's a spring bud in a summer garden of promise that will shoot into bloom at some point, but it's tightly closed up at the moment, and I've left it strictly alone. I recall another well-known American blogger in 2009 experimenting with her fingers and unshipping a clitoral stitch, with unwelcome consequences. I want to avoid any problems like that. Besides, I understand that sensation may take months to fully develop, and I'm in no great hurry. It's not as if I have a raging libido going on at the moment.
Next down, the urethra. When things were rather more swollen, it was actually not that easy to pee, and for a short while I wondered whether all was well. But the trouble was simply that the pumped-up labia majora were literally sealing off any passage of fluid. Easing them apart let the urine through, although it dribbled everywhere at first, and the jet, such as it was, would usually go in various directions, especially down my left leg if I were standing up in the shower. But as the labia have reduced in size, so the jet of urine has been less obstructed, and nowadays I can achieve a strong and authentic blast into the water below that any woman would be proud of.
I'm really pleased with how peeing now empties the bladder completely, and how there seems to be fine control over the process. But the major new sensation is that of freedom and surrender. It's so simple and direct. You want to go to the loo; so you sit down and just let it happen. There's no fuss, it just leaks out, and you abandon yourself to the process. You will have to wipe yourself after, but then that was true in the old days: men's penises always contained a supply of urine, like garden hoses do, that hadn't escaped and needed the proverbial final shake of the member, or else a tissue if you were genteel. Getting back to the abandonment bit, this is really a novel thing for me, for in the past I found it very hard to 'let go' and 'give myself up' to anything. Now I can. Any time I feel like it. I'm sure it will help to complete my loosening-up process.
And in a curious way, it hints at the state of mind a woman might have when suddenly wanting to make love, and feeling prepared to let the man do whatever he wants with her.
Sorry to harp on about peeing matters, but I can't help contrasting the wonderful new state of affairs with the difficulties of former days! I suppose the facts that the male urethra was longer and had a much more convoluted route, with other tubing and erectile tissue to contend with, made peeing man-style far more of a mission. Sometimes a mission impossible. It was a well-known (if little admitted) fact that many men hated the public and sometimes very communal nature of their toilet arrangements. For the sensitive, it was a nerve-wracking ordeal. And of course, anything that put you off would stop the flow of urine. So you then went through a face-saving charade of 'not really needing to go', and quitting the toilet with an assumed nonchalance. Only to sneak back later if the opportunity presented - which meant watching surreptitiously who went into the loo, and who came out, and timing your own second visit very, very carefully. Social evenings at heavy-drinking and male-bonding rugby clubs and the like were evenings of distress and bladder pain. And using a cubicle - assuming there were any - was no real answer in the Gents. It was regarded as a cissy thing to do, and even with the door closed behind you - assuming that there was a door, and that it locked - the sound of boisterous blasphemies and aggressive innuendoes shouted between urinal-using men could easily put you off. Male peeing required the sound of silence, not the unsettling banter of foul-mouthed young turks boasting of rigid todgers eight times the size of he Eiffel Tower.
Thank God for the wonderful safe haven of women's loos. All civilisation and cleanliness and niceness and fragrance, and sometimes even flowers in a bowl, or at least some pot-pourri. And proper mirrors and soap and tissues and towels, and proper hygienic places in which to dispose of things. A pleasant place to take time out in, to repair makeup in, to smile and chat in. And now, at last, I can make all the right noises appropriate to the occasion! Queues? What queues?
Next down, the vagina. Again, not much to say yet. From the first, I got both Little Joe and Big Jim inside without difficulty, and dilating continues to be pain-free, if not quite the most comfortable thing I do during the day. Blood and those tiny white bits of discarded skin disappeared long ago, and haven't returned. I reckon my vagina is therefore as clean and healthy and well-healed as any, and coming along nicely thank you. I haven't bothered to measure the 'depth' yet. At a guess, maybe five inches, but I hear that new vaginas tend to shrink a bit, and assiduous pressure with the dilators doesn't necesssarily stretch the interior very much. Fisting is going to be out. Frankly, I matters little to me whether or not I can eventually accommodate a real or artificial willy. My vagina is there to make me feel like a proper woman. It's a psychological necessity, just as to some breast implants might be. It isn't there primarily to satisfy a lifelong desire to have rampant sex girl-style. But hey-ho, who knows how things might pan out?
And then the anus, which hasn't been touched surgically at all. But I think its operation has been affected by creating the vagina. After all, there is a cavity there now that wasn't there before, and so clearly less space for a big bowel. Which seems to imply that waste matter can't accumulate so much as it used to; and also that there is going to be a bit of pressure on the bowel to empty out. Whether this is really true, I can't yet say, because I am still not active enough to train my body into what will become my new 'normal' metabolism. There is however the same feeling of wanton abandonment at toilet-time for one's number 2's as there is for one's mumber 1's. It's all so much more relaxed. That has to be a Good Thing.
So, to summarise: I think that my new anatomy is exactly what the doctor ordered, and just as Nature really intended. It's simple, direct, feels good, and works a treat. I've little doubt that the untested bits will perform well too. I thought the previous male arrangement was unattractive and inefficient and got in the way of so many things. I'm now utterly convinced I was right to think that, and SO glad I made the change. And yes, I do feel genuinely feminine. Which is just as it should be. Mind and body are now one.