By Jen Wittes
In writing my June feature on postpartum sex for Minnesota Parent, I had the amazing opportunity to interview a dozen or so real moms about parenthood’s effect on the romantic relationship. The women I spoke with were so candid and eloquent, I thought I would share some of the interviews with our Welcome Baby Care readers. There is strength in numbers! Isn’t it nice to know you’re not alone? The first time after childbirth is awkward for everyone; the exhaustion plagues even the most passionate of relationships. Read, nod, relate, and learn…
K recently went back to work at a demanding, high-profile job. When I spoke with her she was still on maternity leave. Not new to motherhood but new to postpartum, K has three children (one guardianship, one adopted, and one recently birthed). When asked to describe herself she said, “Crazed mama from St. Paul who bit off more than she could chew but naively thought she was super woman and could do everything while maintaining an immaculate house with organic nutritious meals at 6pm every night and is now on Xanax and Zoloft.”
Do we love her or what?
Here’s how K responded to a few of my questions:
Do your best to describe your relationship postpartum…
We had a hot and heavy relationship right up to getting pregnant. Pregnancy exhausted me. We added some stresses to our relationship in taking in my 11 year old nephew—so add to that the exhaustion of a new baby and a recovery from a crash C-section, the relationship has been pretty sprained. We both have shorter than normal tempers and we both cry a lot out of frustration, but the relationship isn’t in crisis…it’s just not what we’re used to. We’re in marriage counseling and we talk a lot about how to communicate better so that’s good. All in all, I’d say it’s in a bit of a holding pattern waiting for the spark or connection to reestablish.
And your appetite for sex?
Sadly I have ZERO appetite for sex. Way different than before getting pregnant. Pre-pregnancy it was awesome and regular and lovely. Now it feels like I’m having sex in someone else’s—chubby—body. It’s depressing and discouraging when I care and I don’t care very often.
How long after giving birth did you have sex again for the first time?
How did things go that first time?
It was difficult. Even though I had a C-section, it was still painful and I’m not sure why. Plus the extra baby weight, plus the incision scar which for some reason left me feeling very self conscious. I was self conscious about hubs seeing it or running his hands over it during sex even though he saw much worse in the hospital and truly wouldn’t care. I did not expect that reaction or feeling.
I also didn’t expect to feel so physically vulnerable…very protective and almost shy.
Hubs was thrilled and there was orgasm on both our parts, but it wasn’t the same. I’m not sure why. Like I said before, it just feels like I’m having sex with someone else’s body and I’d like mine back thank you very much!
What positive aspects of your relationship, if any, have surfaced as a result of parenthood? In what ways has the experience brought you closer together or inspired a deeper connection?
I have a profound sense of respect for him after watching how he advocated for both me and our baby after a scary delivery. There was talk of transferring my son to Children’s Hospital and my husband fought to keep him with me if we could do so safely. He remembered parts of our birth plan that I had either forgotten about or given up on. He made sure I saw baby cheek-to-cheek after he was born and he was a rock during my recovery process. I’d do it again with him any day.
Look out for more insights from my “Mom Sex” interviews throughout the month of June!