Your entire universe is turned upside-down by this little bundle of joy. You now have a crying baby on your hands. You are leaking milk everywhere, waking up in puddles. The furthest thing from your mind is sex. Maybe you tore and had stitches. Maybe you've had a hard time going to the bathroom or sitting in a chair. Things can be very tender for varying lengths of time.
Dads, on the other hand, have that 6-week postpartum check-up circled on their calendar. You know, the one where they talk about birth control and give you the go-ahead to engage in sexual activity again. (The significance of 6 weeks really has to do with the position of the cervix more than anything. I didn't know that until my 4th baby. I thought it was all about bleeding.)
News flash: Many moms are not ready to have sex again by 6 weeks!
New moms are wired to be 100% preoccupied with their new baby, even for months. It is so important that couples have this conversation and do not just assume that at 6 weeks she will be ready. I never tore with any of my babies and the first time having sex after giving birth was always pretty intense. I'll be the first to admit, I was not into it at all, but felt bad for my husband. It was guilt sex.
Physical obstacles include leaky breasts (some men like this and others are really turned off by it) and vaginal dryness. Breastfeeding contributes to the dryness, but I've never been comfortable "blaming" breastfeeding. As you know, sex for a woman is as much about what's going on in her head as it is what is happening physically. Like I said, she is 100% preoccupied with the baby. A lot of women find it hard at this point of motherhood to feel like the sexual being they were previously. There can be some emotions to work through and adjust to, and sometimes this can take months.
Depending on what baby number this is, she may be "touched" all day long by various numbers of children. Nursing, holding, changing, consoling. At the end of the day, she may just want to be left alone. This is so hard for a relationship. I've seen lots of moms (and dads) go through this. I know, when David and I have frequent sex, our relationship rocks! When we go long periods of time without it, we fight and get annoyed with each other. He'd be thrilled to know that I'm writing about this! I have no doubt that every relationship is the same way. Going months without sex is hard on a relationship.
I have not gone through this personally, but I know plenty of people who have. It's been very trying and every mom I know feels terribly guilty. In every case I know of, the mom tore pretty bad and was stitched. They all felt that the stitches were too "tight" and not quite right. All of them were embarrassed to talk about it and felt that what they were going through was very rare. That's really why I wanted to write a post about it. It should be talked about and women need to know that they are not alone. Communication and compassion are crucial in a marital relationship enduring this trial.
Over the years, I've heard a few dads comment that they feel like they've been replaced by the baby. This, too, is short-lived, trust me! Every day I feel like it's me and David against these 4 crazy kids!
A good friend of mine gave me a silly book several years ago called The Diaper Diaries: The Real Poop on a New Mom's First Year. Normally, I really hate books like this, but this one is really pretty funny and I'm pretty sure I've laughed out loud at several of the pages. I have often referred to this "chart" of a typical 20-year scenario with a child. It's divided by years of motherhood-- what the baby does and what the husband does in that year. I hope you enjoy it.