Before I had a baby, I was a sexual fiend. My partner and I had sex almost every day, if not every day, and even multiple times a day. I have a drawer of lingerie and toys and that drawer was opened regularly. We tried different positions in different locations and craved one another on this incredibly passionate, carnal level. We had morning sex so I could smell like him the rest of the day. We had sex at night so we could collapse in exhausted ecstasy, falling asleep in one another’s sweaty arms.
Then I had a baby.
Of course, for the first six weeks I wasn’t allowed to have sex. My vagina had been my son’s gateway to entering the world and, well, the gateway needed some R&R. For a week or so it hurt to walk. For a few weeks it hurt to sit or go to the bathroom. I used Witch Hazel by the box, impatient for the day it wouldn’t be painful to move.
But even after I was cleared for sexual activity by my doctor, I found myself completely uninterested in sex. In fact, even after I felt like I was finally in a body I recognized, I wasn’t interested in sex.
I started to panic. Was this it? Was I destined to be in some sex-less relationship? Did parenthood kill the passion between my partner and I? And then my partner stared to panic. Did I not find him attractive anymore? Was I unhappy in this new life, as a mom and a co-parent? Was I wishing I was single and able to have unattached sex with mysterious strangers?
As the anxiety grew and terrifying possibilities started to crowd my judgment, I confided in a friend. A friend who also had a baby. A friend who also felt like she wasn’t as sexual as she was before she became a mother. As we started sharing our perspectives, I realized that there wasn’t anything wrong with me or my relationship.
When you become pregnant, you essentially give up your body. You’re no longer in complete control of your form, and it can be scary and overwhelming and, honestly, annoying. I'd never felt so out of place in my own skin, like someone had put everything I am into a vessel that was everything I wasn’t. I felt within and without, connected and completely displaced. I felt crowded in my own skin, and just wanted a second to step away and get some space. Of course, that second wasn’t available to me.
It didn’t become available once I had my son, either. I was able to successfully breastfeed so I was constantly being sucked on. We co-slept, often skin-to-skin, so I was never not being touched. As my son grew and could crawl and walk and talk, I still couldn't find time. I was pulled and hit and bit and hugged and cuddled and kicked and always, always touched. There are few moments when my body is not consistently bombarded by another human being.
While it can be wonderful, it can also be overwhelming and frustrating — and it takes time getting used to.
When I explained this to my partner, he understood. (Something I'm very grateful for.) While it was difficult for him not to blame himself, we let communication and a willingness to be vulnerable silence our self-conscious voices. Now we work to carve out time for ourselves, and I make an effort to put my body and my mind in a sexy mood so that we can connect in that wonderful, carnal, passionate way we enjoy. Part of that is remembering that I exist beyond my son. Part of it is remembering that sex is something I love.
But from time to time — and honestly, without any guilt — I let my partner know that I just need space. I tell him that for me, sometimes, the sexiest thing we could do is sit next to one another without touching, so I can feel like I have ownership over my own body and am able to take up my own personal, unimpeded space.
I’m still a sexual fiend. When my partner and I do have sex, it’s still as sweaty and adventurous and pleasurable as it was before. I might not open that lingerie drawer as often, but when I do, it's worth it. But along with so many other lessons motherhood has taught me, I’ve learned that it’s OK to say that I need some space, to sink into myself and get in touch with my body again, before I start touching my partner's.
Images Courtesy of Danielle Campoamor (3)