I've never told anyone this but… sex was torture after birth

I've never told anyone this but… sex was torture after birth

In an ongoing series, I've Never Told Anyone This But... we encourage women to share an intimate secret with the intention of stripping away the shame of being a human and normalizing what we secretly fear is unique to us.

Today, it's "Susie," a 35 years of age, Female, heterosexual mother from Sydney.

Q: Why do you think you haven't told anyone this?


A: I guess in some ways I have. I guess in some ways I've made jokes and comments here and there, you know as everyone does. But have I really sat down and spoken to anyone about anything I've gone through after birth and really just let that story be sobbed? No. I would feel guilty and ungrateful and also I am not sure how to say it? I used to be madly in love with my husband - that is why I wanted to have a baby with him. Now, I see him as a colleague taking shifts on a 24/7 roster that seems to never end and it feels like every day is full of much of the same - nappies, baby's needs and routine. Heaven forbid we don't keep to the schedule!! So life becomes small. That is hard to keep a fire for your great relationship alive in. It is hard to feel connected when all you feel like is how much work you now have to do, and all of a sudden your thriving career and life is replaced by some alternate reality from 1952. I definitely didn't think it would be so uneven and I definitely didn't think it would be this hard. I knew it would be hard, but different to what it is. I didn't (and couldn't) understand the hormonal crazy that comes with birth and the way that you never feel yourself, and for me I never felt further from sexy in my life. 

When I hit the 6 week mark, and doctors and nurses (and the internet) say that your body is ready for sex, I thought it was a joke. Who on earth is having sex six weeks after a vaginal birth? Ok so there's recovered, and then there's recovered. For me, the first time I was intimitate was like the Sahara;  drier than a summer's drought filled day and as smooth as sandpaper. I didn't even last 3 seconds before I shut up shop. My libido had left the building and the only reason I did it was because I felt really appreciative that my husband had gone without asking (ok, he was asking) for what at this point had been months. It would be many, many more months before he would get another chance. Which again would fail and be awful.


Q: How did you eventually connect again and refind your love?

A: It was by building intimacy in our friendship and then in our new relationship as parents to this new little baby. It was in finding admiration for him as a parent and allowing that to really turn me on. Because I was breastfeeding (exclusively), I could explain to him the time and burden (physically, emotionally and mentally) that it takes and it isn't just about having a bigger appetite or drinking a lot of water - it is about how that affects hormones which affects mood and desire and libido. I think he could really see that there may be other ways for us to connect as a couple while I went through this unique time in my life and not to rush it or get back to before. Instead, simply enjoy watching me as a breastfeeding mother, help me where he could and try to lessen the burden and guilt on me. 

Honestly, even now, we do have sex but I actually understand all the jokes of literally every male comedian who has a wife and kids that says he might get lucky once a month. I have become that woman! I went from the highest sex drive of anyone I knew to, if you play your cards right you might get the stars aligned for you on this day once per month… miss that and you're waiting for the next moon cycle! It is so crazy to think that. Like I feel like I am talking about someone else - and that is the thing, I AM! Becoming  a mother transforms you totally and completely. At least for me it did and I am still getting to know myself. 


Q: What did you learn from this experience ?


A: I learned that no one talks about this! I mean I had no idea. Yeah, I thought it would be sore for a while, and that is why people didn't want to. But the hormones and desire and libido levels and that stuff - no I didn't expect that. And maybe it isn't everyone, but I also know from what I have heard and read that I am  not alone. So it is a thing, but it is different to what I thought it would be and why it is this way I had to educate myself on and learn a lot.


Q: What do you wish you could tell other Women?




Q: What have you learnt about yourself


A: That I need to stop giving myself such a hard time. I need to embrace this time. and to be gentle, kind and patient with myself and to take it slow. I learned that I put a lot of pressure on myself and I also learned how easy it was for me to slip into these old - or at least traditional - gender roles. I wondered if they are gender roles for a reason? Maybe, it is like that for a reason? I never thought I would be one to become the housewife and stay at home mum extraordinaire. But the worst part about that identity is that I still work full time. So, I guess I learned about how hard it is for me to redefine roles within the home compared to roles in the professional world. I find it harder to speak up and stand up for myself without a so- called union of united colleagues around me. It is just me, drowning under the pressure of holding both positions equally well and losing my mind over doing it all. I learned that I am really bad at asking for help and delegating and I am really bad at voicing how I feel and what I need. I am working on finding my voice and finding my strength of self again so I can live from my truest, freest expression. It is a process of self discovery and recalibration, like with many new transitions in life. 

Q: Any other tips and tricks for partners?

A: Yes! I wish husbands would just notice all we do and simply try to take some things that they can do off our endless list of chores. Washing, ironing, cleaning and cooking is not gendered. A lot of childcare isn't gendered. Women feel the weight of thousands of years of obligation and fall into this role so easily. I think my husband equally fell into the role of not having to do much very easily. And I don't blame him that he enjoyed my rearranged work hours. That meant food was prepared and washing done and folded and put away. I would love that too!  It is really easy to simply say, get a nanny or a house keeper, or whatever like this. FIrstly not everyone can afford that and not everyone wants that - sometimes you just want someone to want to help you and you want them to want to lessen your burden and mental load. That is actually the sexiest thing that a partner can do.  Do more of that and see if your sex life changes?!

Q: And lastly, why do you think all of this is important?

Well, I guess, only I could grow, birth and keep alive our child in and out of the womb. Only I could do a lot of things related to having a baby. But there are so many other things that both of us can do. We never sat down and made that list or divided those chores or tasks, and I think our relationship suffered as a consequence. And then a larger consequence, our intimacy suffered and then stopped. It is important to the long term survival of your relationship, your sanity as a woman and as a mother.


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