Not Tonight, Dear or Maybe Ever
I used to joke that my next book was going to be called “Sex After Baby” and it was going to be really easy to write because the first six chapters would be just blank pages. Come to think of it, the next six chapters would be pretty light too. (If anyone would like to pay me for this book, please let me know.)
At the six-week check-up after having a baby one of the routine questions is: have you thought about birth control? My guess is that over 80 per cent of women answer – Huh? What do I need birth control for? I am never having sex again!
To be honest, the whole timeline is kind of hazy to me. I am pretty sure that my husband and I would disagree when we first started having sex again but I think we would both agree that it really took us almost a year to get back to normal (no, not saying how much is normal) and we went though varying periods of stress over it. (Well, he felt stress, I just felt harassed.)
The first year after a baby is born is incredibly difficult on a marriage. The sleep deprivation, the change in lifestyle, the never-ending demands (I mean the baby), the third body in the bed (again, the baby) and the change in focus from being a couple to a family.
After the baby arrives some men might feel a little bit displaced, a little bit anxious and ignored. In the old days, those feeling of disconnection could be erased by a little romp in the bedroom, but a few weeks and months after the baby arrives sex is the last thing you want to do.
I know after I had the babies I didn’t want to deal with another person’s needs. I got all the tactile affection I could want from the newborns. I didn’t even have time for a shower let alone the time to appreciate the sexual side of life. As sexpert Josey Vogels says, your breasts have go from “funbags to feedbags”. As a new mom there are lots of reasons to avoid sex : hormonal, psychological, the fear of pain (as well as the experience of pain) and just plain exhaustion. All of them are valid and real. But they are not insurmountable.
The downside of the dry spells is that no one feels good about it. Resentment builds and then it makes it even harder to want to have sex. Even though we would joke about it in our babygroup, our group’s motto was ‘avoid eye contact’, no one wants to be in a sexless marriage. Read the comments from new moms at Babycenter.com and you will see that there is real emotional pain in this issue.
And the truth is, it is hard to umm…”get back on the horse”. My O.B. gave me great advice at my six-week check-up: First, “inebriate and lubricate!” and secondly, “fake it ‘til you make it”. She is a wise woman.
The good news is that if you were in a good rhythm pre-baby, you will get it back. And now that you have grown together as parents and seen these new sides of each other it will likely be better than before – and then baby number two will come along.