Dear Mothertougher and Mama Love Junkie,
Ok, I love my husband, I do, but I have absolutely no interest in having sex with him. My baby is seven months old and I told him that I had to wait six months (not six weeks as the doctor actually advised) to go at it again. It was a lie, but I honestly couldn't imagine having him any where near my body. Now that we have the "green light" every night he turns to me and starts to feel me up - something that did very little for me before the baby but now just feels repulsive. My breasts are now just only for my son. I know that sounds terrible, but it's true. In fact, I feel that way about my whole body. It is for my child. What do I do about this? Does it get better? How do I explain this to my husband with out offending him or driving him to someone else's bed?
Thanks so much,
Just Can't Do It
Dear Just Can't,
I completely hear you. After having a baby, it just feels like things should not go in there anymore, they should only come out.
I remember clearly one time when my oldest was eight weeks old, and we were up together in the middle of the night. My husband slept peacefully next to us, the moon was high in the sky, and the little one suckled expertly at my boob. it was the perfect newborn moment - so much so that I think If you looked in the window, you would have thought to yourself nothing but "ah."
But you would have been wrong. In my head, I was crafting all the ways that I would get back at my husband for his infuriating peace. He would change every diaper for the next week. He would go to the grocery store WITH the baby this weekend. He would clean the house. You know, all the things that are absolutely impossible to do with your first baby. He would do them all. There were two books next to me in this tableau - What To Expect... with well worn dog eared pages, and The Newborn Brain with its spine never cracked. What I really wanted to do was take one of those books and chuck it at my sleeping husband - hitting him square in the face with the pointy corner. I was just so angry at him for his life being essentially the same as nine weeks before when mine had become almost unrecognizable.
There is a difference between a mother and a father. It took me exactly one day to figure this out when we all got home from the hospital that first time. It doesn't matter if you work full time, your husband is "really helpful" or you "aren't all that mother-y." It's just the case. Biological fuckery. A father doesn't feel all the things you feel when you literally squeeze a person out of you. As much as you plan for the two of you to balance the parenting duties like perfect synchronized swimmers, it won't happen. And here's the reason why: because you grew a person on the inside of you and he did not. Your body was a vessel. Literally. And his was a squirt gun, and that's just the way it is, Darwin.
Which brings me to the point here. I don't agree with Mothertougher that you once were a sex kitten and now you are a mom. You are both a sex kitten and a mom. And a million other things. You yourself are growing into a whole new being. Your body will be different forever, and I'd guess that the same will be true of your heart. You will need some more time to figure out how all of this is humanly possible, and that's more than fine. But you must tell your husband about the way you feel sooner than later. You have to explain that you are new, and that he is going to have to get reacquainted.I never threw a book at my husband, but I did harbor enormous resentment for quite a while. Don't let that happen to you. We were too far away from each other - in a year we should of been closest, and it was my fault in many ways for not articulating the problem and asking for help. Has your identity irrevocably changed? Yes. Has your body? Yes. Will you ever again be able to wear a shirt you can't breastfeed in? Yes. Will you want to have sex with your husband? Yes, I believe you will. But you have to grow into this new body, just like your baby must grow into his.Yours in love,
Mama Love Junkie
Dear Just Can't Do It,
Let me just start out by saying that I love you for lying. Six months? That’s brilliant. I also love your husband for believing you. Geesh – I think mine was playing grab-ass in the maternity ward. No rest for the weary.
What you’re feeling is so normal. Show of hands - how many of you have been afraid of postpartum sex? If you weren’t, you should’ve been. There’s been stuff coming out of those formerly sexy places that no one wants to see. Crusts. Oozes. Babies. You know, icky stuff.
Unfortunately, while it is totally normal, it can also lead to major marital issues down the line. I can wax poetic about how you can substitute cuddle time, talk about feeling touched-out (which is a real thing, Mr. Mothertougher. I didn’t make it up), pretend that your husband is so in awe of your lifegiving/life-sustaining capabilities that he doesn’t care about sex, but that would be lying. And I don’t condone lying, unless it’s to get out of postpartum sex. Kidding. (Sort of.)
But sweetie, your body isn’t your husband’s. And it’s not your baby’s, either. It’s YOURS. It can be really empowering to own that, and it can also be a way to reclaim your sexuality. A lot of women have a hard time reconciling their new role as mom with their old role as sex kitten. It’s hard, no doubt. We’re talking major life changes here, so be kind to yourself. A friend of mine had to read Fifty Shades of Gray (select scenes) before getting into bed with her husband – it would get her so excited that she forgot about being nervous, exhausted, or whatever other decidedly unsexy emotion she was feeling as a new mom. Whatever works, you know?
Now: logistics. Breastfeeding can definitely be a mind-fark when it comes to sex, so do yourself a favor and be realistic about it. If leakage is going to kill the mood (and it’s so okay if you feel this way – being a nursing mom doesn’t mean you have to swear off breasts as sexual objects. They can be both functional and erotic), wear a cute but supporting black shelf-tank and even breast pads, if you so desire. As for the nether regions – if it’s your first time in six months, after pushing out a small human, it’s probably going to feel a little uncomfortable down there. Now is the time to make friends with Astroglide.
Take things slow, and don’t freak if it’s weird the first time you try it. It’s like ripping off a band-aid. Do it quickly, without thinking too much about it. Laugh about it, if you can. Play Like a Virgin on repeat.
And who knows? You might actually have fun. Until the baby starts crying.
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