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Monday Morning Parenting: Sex and the Baby

Monday, October 11, 2010

WARNING: This post is about sex. No one really wants to talk about, but I do.

The most focused amount of sex me and the husband unit ever had was when we were making a baby. They say practice makes perfect. It never occurred to me to video tape our love-making for posterity's sake. I'm mostly kidding, but there is a small kernel of truth to my wistful thinking. If I had known that those six months of TTC were going to be "it" for awhile, I would have given careful consideration to becoming a video vixen. I could be watching myself doing "it" instead of just wishing I was doing "it."

There were so many hurdles to overcome to regain a normal sex life
post-baby. For me, the first problem was atrophic vaginitis, which is basically a lack of lubrication caused by plummeting estrogen levels. It feels so much worse than it sounds, like tiny razor blades nicking you on the insides during intercourse. I had to use an estrogen cream for several weeks. Once I got over that I faced another obstacle...

Low self-esteem. My body did not feel or look like my own. The muscle and tissues in my pelvic region were still in recovery, my breasts had become a feeding trough, and let's not even talk about the sagging, stretch mark-pocked landscape of my abdomen. These were small sacrifices in the name of giving birth to the joy of my life, but I did not anticipate the physiological and psychological fallout. It was as if a seismic tremor had split me in two and it was hard to reconcile the two parts...woman and mother. Where did my baby's need to nurse and bond end and my need for intimacy and pleasure begin? I did not feel sexy, much less like having sex. It took a lot of lot of mental and physical exercise, but I was finally able to find balance in the bedroom and then...

I was hit with chronic lethargy. I am already low-energy due to an anemic disorder, so couple that with a lack of sleep, and I am too tired to do the nasty. Who wants a 2 am booty call when you're fighting for every last zzz? Even when I mustered up the strength to get busy, the baby would inevitably start crying from the other room. I think she has motion sensors hidden in our bed that alert her when her parents are about to get their freak on. Nothing kills the mood for me like a crying baby. But eventually, I found ways around this problem as well like scheduling mommy-daddy time during her REM cycle.

It has taken a full year to hit my sexual stride after having a baby. I don't know if this is average or not. We talk about everything else when it comes to TTC, pregnancy, labor and delivery and baby care, but we fail to have candid conversations with each other about sex after the baby. What is that about? Are we supposed to stop needing/wanting it because we've procreated? I wish there was a manual for this topic, like a What to Expect Out of Sex When You Are Done Expecting.

Care to share your struggles and triumphs to achieve a healthy sex life after having a baby?


Krissy said...

I was ready for sexual healing by the time I was 3 weeks postpartum. I didn't even want my boyfriend breathing on me too close because I wanted to jump on him. The day after my 6 week check up, I couldn't wait any longer. We did grown up things like it was going out of style. I had no doubt that I would be in the mood. My sex drive is really high and to be honest I'm ALWAYS in the mood no matter the time of day lol. ( you see why this long distance stuff sucks for me? Lol)

Question is, is your sex drive back to normal now? Does it feel the same or has your body somehow changed so that it feels different?

Unknown said...

good ? Krissy! My libido took a postpartum nosedive thanks to hormones. The scientific explanation is that estrogen gets suppressed in order to breastfeed. Now that I am nursing less, my hormones are leveling out so I do feel more...how should I say it?...horny?! HaHa!

Mrs. K said...

I don't have any experience in this yet but next year (hopefully) I can let you know. Just kidding. Boy, I'm glad you are bringing this up because this is something I've never thought about before. I can't wait to see what the other (more experienced) ladies have to say :) Blogging is such a great learning tool!

Debbie said...

Between the lack of sleep and the hormonal changes, I don't know how anyone gets their groove back! I'm amazed by Krissy!

Help! Mama Remote... said...

I don't remember having that many concerns after baby but we do have our high & low moments. What we did deal with, with my son & youngest daughter is while we're trying to get busy....the kids will wake up. We won't be loud! If he touches me they would begin to wiggle or cry. He said they act like they're still attached to me. Although my youngest doesn't do it that much anymore. But my son had it BAD!!!!!!!!

Honey + Lime said...

LOL, this post is so true in so many different ways! I have been able to come to terms with the fact that my body will never be the same. My husband assures me hes's fine with it, but c'mon, it's nice and all but I am sure he'd love a smooth skinned, non-pooched tummy and un-stretched body again! Lord knows I do!

You should write the manual! I'd read it ;)

Darcel @ The Mahogany Way said...

Your sexy comes back in time. Look at me, we have three kids!
I am having trouble right now though.
I'm more tired than I thought I would be. Baby is almost always on my boob, and hubby always wants sex.

I now know what to expect after each kid, but it's still hard. Like you I don't feel sexy for a number of reasons.

I'm slowly starting to feel better again. I waited 2 weeks after the birth of my first. I didn't tear at all, and my midwife said it looked like I never had a baby so she gave us the green light. I waited 8 weeks after my 2nd because I had this fear of getting pregnant. Waited 6 weeks after this last one.

I figure things can only o up from here :)

keyalus said...

It is so tough! I can only imagine how I'd feel if I had actually had a vaginal birth. After all that goes on down there during childbirth it would just be a while before I'd want anything else going on.

My biggest struggle continues to be regaining my "sexy". It has gotten better as I've lost the weight, but my stomach is still all weird and flabby I always feel like "You cannot possibly want me looking like this!"

Timing is also tough. I'm with you that nothing kills the mood faster than hearing a noise on the baby monitor LOL. Gotta work on that REM thing. :)

And did I mention that I *need* my sleep and I'm not even anemic? I have to get up at 5AM (to exercise to lose the flabby tummy that contributes to my issues). Sigh.

Krissy said...

Lol well good for u Teresha! I'm sure your husband is excited about your new found frisky feeling as well. Lol

And ladies real men understand that you carried a baby for 9 months and that things won't just fall back into place. So the love he has for you isn't looking at your flabby tummy or your big thighs. He just wants his "cuddle buddy" back. You can work on your esteem and self image but he's not gonna care at all.

Michelle @Flying Giggles said...

I think it is great that you posted about this. I had a horrible time having sex with my husband after the 6 weeks we needed to wait. So we waited longer and it did not help. It was so painful and talk about being self conscious! Obviously we worked past it and had our second daughter. It was easier after her because we knew what to expect. Now, things are back to normal.

Maureensk said...

I'm late in commenting on this. You did a really good job on this subject. Just light enough so we're not squirming, but serious enough to reassure others that we're not alone. I had no issues with lack of sex drive after babies #1-4 - maybe that is why babies #1-3 are only 34 months apart total. After Miss V, however, my drive is almost non-existent. She still nurses a lot though! Still, it makes me wonder if age doesn't play a role. Your explanation further supports that argument. If estrogen is already lower, due to age, then it will be even lower while breastfeeding. Also, hubby, who is older than me, is approaching 50 and his drive just isn't what it once was.

The Redhead Riter said...

All things come back and once you hit 40 it is equivalent to a man's 16 year old libido :o)

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