By Jen Wittes
C is a writer and university adjunct professor who lives in Utah with her two children and husband of 15 years. C recently had her second baby, 11½ years after giving birth to her first. The interview mainly addresses her most recent postpartum experience.
Describe your appetite for sex following the birth of your daughter. Decreased? Increased? Different?
This is a frustrating area for me. Before this pregnancy I was in love with sex. I wanted sex every single night. But then, in the middle of the pregnancy, I had to be put on anxiety and depression medication and my interest in sex just plummeted. That is, my interest in sex with my husband plummeted. I can imagine and fantasize about sex. I still feel like I love the idea of sex, but it is not satisfying for me anymore. And I just don’t feel attracted to my husband right now.
What physical changes postpartum affected the way you view sex? Was the effect lasting?
This hasn’t been an issue for me too much. Of course, like most women, I want to lose the baby weight and get back into the shape I was in, but this particular area has not affected my view on sex.
How long—if ever—after your baby’s birth did you feel “back to your old self” sexually?
In my head I am back to my old sexual self. I want it, I love it, I enjoy it. But with my body not responding in the same way, my husband struggling with erections, plus the other things I’ve mentioned, I physically don’t want to bother with it. Hopefully that makes sense.
Any tips for rekindling the romance with a child (or two or three) in the house?
We were really at the brink of separation. Really THAT close. Connecting with each other was part of the problem. Now, no matter what, we have a date night every single week. Even if it’s just a walk around the block or watching a show on TV together—alone in our bedroom. Believe me, I know ALL of the excuses for why a date night can’t happen: there’s no time, no energy, no money. We’re already married so why date? I know them ALL! And they don’t matter.
Carving out some time in the week for just you and your partner sends the message that you matter to one another. It’s not the activity or the money spent on it that counts. It’s the time.
What positive aspects of your relationship, if any, have surfaced as a result of parenthood?
I think this time around we have really reached a level of friendship that could not have been achieved any other way. Being on bed-rest and being so ill during my pregnancy kind of forced my husband to see all that I do with the house and our son. My husband is already very helpful, more so than most I think, but this was a different level of understanding.
Do you feel more self-conscious or more comfortable in your own skin now that you are a mother?
I think this really depends. I am very, very comfortable in my skin as a mother. As a woman? It varies from day to day.
Stay tuned for Part 3…