I know exactly the last time I had sex, because I wrote about it. I was 32 weeks pregnant, and despite a raging libido (thanks, pregnancy hormones!), my belly had grown too huge to feel comfortable in any position — even
farm animal doggie from behind style. We decided to finish with the whole sex thing until after the birth. Our baby is now three months old, and my husband is still waiting.
There are so many reasons why I’m not interested in sex right now. I’m exhausted from night feedings. I’m breastfeeding around the clock. I rarely get to shower, though my hair is well-moisturised with baby vom and residual nappy rash cream. And after cuddling my baby and preschooler all day, I truly don’t want anyone else to touch me. (Mentally, I’ve got yellow caution tape outlining my body, and big red circles with lines through them around my boobs.)
But the biggest hurdle is fear. I’m terrified to have postnatal sex. Nothing feels normal or right in my nether regions. I’m still sore from pushing out a baby with a very round head — she crashed through my vagina like a marathon winner ripping open the finish line tape. I can’t tell you how many stitches I got, because I was too afraid to ask, but I’m pretty sure I could have watched two back-to-back episodes of “13 Reasons” while the doctor sewed me back up. At the same time, parts of me are numb, to the point where the only way I can be sure if I’m peeing is by hearing the sound. True story!
My doctor assures me that I’m healing normally, though he says I should be doing about 8 million kegel exercises per day to aid my recovery. (If you see me making a crazy face while I’m driving, you’ll know what muscle I’m secretly flexing.) But given the sorry state of my private parts, I wouldn’t even want to use a tampon right now (forget letting a penis anywhere near me). Which is why I was horrified to see what some women in my mum Facebook group had to say on the subject of postponing postnatal sex.
“If men don’t get sex at home, they’ll get it somewhere else” was a shockingly popular sentiment. Apparently, if you don’t give up the goods, never mind how many stitches you have in your hooha, you’re basically inviting your man to cheat and/or leave you. Seriously? No one tells someone healing from broken leg to hurry up and tap dance. Why should a woman recovering from childbirth — an event that provided her partner with an actual child — feel any pressure to perform sexually? I hate it when the most backwards, anti-feminist rhetoric comes from other women.
For the record, my husband, who does not live in the 1950s, is not pressuring me to have sex, though I know he misses it. I miss it too — especially how sex acts as a marital spat preventer, hanging a shiny halo over our relationship that lasts for days. But I can’t do it. Not yet. Not until I feel halfway normal. And I’m referring to my lower half.
Mums, when did you feel ready for postnatal sex?