By Jen Wittes
Lisa is a part-time executive assistant and full-time SAHM from San Francisco. She has one child and another on the way!
Describe your relationship postpartum…
The closeness and the attraction are there; the frequency of sex is radically decreased. We had to schedule sex while trying to conceive for both pregnancies. I’m not Fertile Myrtle, so when we aren’t actively trying to get pregnant, we maybe need a little break from that intensity.
How long after giving birth did you have sex again for the first time?
It was at least three months. I bled for eight weeks and was definitely not feelin’ it. Honestly, I can’t understand wanting to have sex very soon after, but people do it all the time…and get pregnant!
How was the first time?
I don’t really remember how the sex was, but I do remember being in a lovely post-coital snuggle and then hearing the son on the baby monitor, demanding to be fed. It was so strange and confusing to shift from sexuality to breastfeeding—my husband and I laughed in our discomfort.
What physical changes postpartum affected the way you view sex?
Being tired made me less interested for a long time, and the extra baby weight made me feel less attractive…though my wonderful husband never made me feel unattractive. It all passed after about a year and I felt back to my old self.
Any funny anecdotes to share?
I remember an older friend of mine saying, “Your husband will want to try breastfeeding, every husband does.” She was right! We had fun with it.
How has parenthood changed your relationship?
We’re just so damn tired. Luckily we had been together for almost 15 years when our son was born, so we have a lot of history and trust to draw upon. I feel fortunate that we had so long to practice being kind to one another, because we really needed that when we were so stressed out with a newborn.
Did you face any challenges in connecting with your mate after becoming parents? Do you still?
Becoming a mom is such an all-consuming experience that it’s easy to lose your sense of self. So it’s easy to forget to talk to your partner about anything but the kids. In the first year or so we used to fight every time we got a babysitter and went on a date. I was so frustrated—why couldn’t we fight at home for free while the baby slept? But then I realized that we were so tightly wound that we didn’t dare fight until we had enough time and space to relax into it, if that makes sense. Fighting was a way of releasing tension. Then we’d make up and have the rest of our date. We went through this a bunch of times before we figured it out!
Any tips for rekindling the romance with a child (or two or three) in the house?
Get that babysitter. Trade off with friends if you need to save money. We recently found that going out during the day allows us to do so many more kinds of things than just dinner and a movie…and we’re less tired. Hiking is great. A hot tub and a couples massage was a great treat. And daytime dates mean we miss out on some of the childcare routines (nap, dinner, bedtime) that become such a grind. Also, we go away overnight when we can. But even sitting side by side on the couch, each working on our laptops after the kid has gone to bed, can be a nice “mini-date” if we’re intentional about it. I bring him a snack, he brings me a pillow.
Thanks to Lisa, another brava mama willing to open up and share the intimacies of postpartum home-life with us.
Readers, if you have any thoughts to share on your own relationship struggles and triumphs post-baby…comment away!