Over the course of the last year, there have been many surprises — some foretold, others not.
There were (are) many things that people warned me about when it came to the parenthood transition. But of course, no one prepared me for how having a child would affect my sexual relationship with my husband.
Sexy zones change.
Pre-baby, like everyone, I had a favorite erogenous zone. This particular zone had a near 100% success rate, and my husband was well aware of this fact. However, after giving birth, my husband and I noticed not only was I less receptive to the formerly undefeated zone, I was also somewhat uncomfortable.
As a mother, it can be difficult to compartmentalize the touch from your partner vs. the touch from your child — and the result is feeling doubly icky. For awhile, I felt gross when my son would nurse and equally gross when my husband would touch me. As the months went by, I regained some level of normalcy over my past sexy zone. But I don’t think it will ever be completely the same.
Quickies become necessary.
Having a baby is a full-time job. And if you have what Dr. Sears refers to as a “high needs child” like mine, they require even more attention. If my son had his way, he would be held and nurse 24 hours a day. Having a child who wants all of your attention makes it tough to make time for intimacy. So you learn to use the time you have. Every free moment is valuable.
Using the time you have can mean different things on different days. Sometimes that means making the most of the 15 minutes you have before your baby wakes up. Other times that means turning on a show while they spend time in their bouncy chair. Before you know it, you become an opportunist.
But it’s not all bad. Sometimes it feels like a game for my husband and me to run off and see how long we have until the baby starts crying.
You may feel over touched.
We don’t care much for clothes in our house. For that reason, we are not very fond of unannounced visitors. Pre-baby, I could walk around in my house without a shirt and had very little to worry about — other than a drive-by fondling from my spouse. Now, I have two people to worry about.
If I walk about without a shirt, my son thinks it's time to nurse. It doesn’t matter how long ago he just ate or how long he has been awake. If he sees it, he wants it.
As said before, babies require lots of touch. Between cuddling, nursing, and carrying them around, you may begin to fill overwhelmed with any form of contact. On some level, I expected that from a baby because I have always had the intention of attempting many “natural parenting” techniques. But I was so preoccupied with the transition into parenting that I forgot that most husbands require lots of touch as well.
The result of a touchy baby and a touchy husband is that you often feel over-touched, and it may lead to a decrease in sexual desire.
Some good parenting tactics are bad for your sex life (i.e., co-sleeping).
We co-slept from birth to about 11 months. And when it was over, I had trouble adjusting to the idea of my baby not being in arms reach through the night. But before our co-sleeping legacy came to an end, I learned a crucial lesson. Many of the things that make you a “good parent” make you a “bad” sexual partner.
Co-sleeping was one of many bonuses for our baby that left us frustrated or having to settle for having sex on the floor. Other examples of things that made me an excellent parent but a horrible sex partner included: responding to cries from the moment of onset, nursing on demand, and feeling the need to tiptoe into his room every five minutes.
Sometimes you gotta fake it.
As a work-from-home mom, I have the best of both worlds — I get to love on my son all day, and I get to work in my PJs. But I also get the worst of both worlds — having to stop work every five minutes due to crying and the pressure of balancing home and work obligations.
Because I do so much, it's easy for me to get frustrated and feel overwhelmed throughout the day. The result is often pushing my husband away at times he needs me most because I feel like I have the world on my shoulders. When you feel that parental responsibilities are unequally distributed, it’s easy to let that exhaustion push you even further away from each other. For us, it became hard to sync up. When one is ready to get hot and heavy, the other is usually not it the mood. Physical intimacy is important and sometimes, you gotta go for it even when it’s the farthest thing from your minds.
This past year has taught me there must be some level of balance to my wife/mother combo. I'm still learning as I go, but I am excited about the journey.