About three days after my first daughter was born, my body was still swollen, my breasts felt like chew toys, and everything was leaky and strange. But my husband wanted sex.
'When do you think we can do it again?' he asked. Probably never, I thought. My vagina hurt. Like really hurt. And all of that pain was a direct effect of having had sex. Besides, I just pushed a tiny human out. I didn't need to risk another one. Possibly ever.
I didn't say any of this. I just shoved him. Hard. Of course I valued his support during that first pregnancy and birth. Moments we shared during that time were some of the sexiest and most intense moments of our marriage. But we've always had a close, very sexual relationship and had never gone more than a couple of days without sex. The idea of going six weeks until my postpartum checkup was a little traumatic. Though, admittedly, the trauma was more his than
He spent the next six weeks wavering between being understanding and being sexually frustrated, pawing at my breasts, and then being miffed when I threw his hands off. But eventually we made it to the appointment, I got the 'all clear', and we got to the first post-kid
I was scared going into it. Never one to trust medical procedures, I wondered if the parts that had been stitched up after giving birth would reopen. I feared the pain I could still remember all too viscerally. When he touched me, I flinched like the first time I had sex — and I think I was even more afraid.
'Slow!' I told him. 'Slower!' I yelled. He was tentative, asking me constantly if it hurt. I was annoyed, snapping at him, and moving away like his body parts were hot pokers. But eventually, we got it together, and it actually didn't hurt as much as I feared.
According to most movies and TV shows, this is what sex after baby looks like: Long-suffering mother hates her life. She's wearing an old ratty T-shirt. Yesterday's deodorant is caked in her armpits. Enter her randy and handsy husband, raring to go. She acquiesces. The baby cries. Rinse. Repeat. If you believe the movies, once we pop out babies, we never get laid again.
There is some truth to that, but my husband and I kept at it. The first few times were hardly firework-inducing, because he was nervous about hurting me, and both of us were constantly listening for the baby. And it didn't really help that I felt seriously unattractive. But I kept at it, hoping I'd reconnect with my libido.
As I started to get back to my pre-baby shape, I got more comfortable in my own skin and felt more confident. I got the hang of nursing, and the baby started sleeping more. Between sleeping through the night again and feeling like a semi-competent mother, the sex drive I thought had permanently left the building came back. It was like it had been in hibernation during the pregnancy and early weeks of new motherhood. (Sure, we still had sex then; I just wanted it less than ever before.) Once it came back, it came back roaring — with extra oomph. It was like our old sex life, but on steroids. And the orgasms. I have always had them pretty easily, but now there were several in a row, each one more intense than the one before it. I was pleasantly surprised but admittedly a little confused.
'Did something shift inside me?' I asked my doctor at my annual smear test, while my daughter cooed in her bucket seat below me. (My working theory was that my G-spot moved during birth.) 'What do you mean?' she responded. I told her about my better orgasms, and she shrugged. 'It's possible. Things do move, sometimes permanently, but maybe you are just happier and more comfortable?'
Maybe she was right. Maybe there was no scientific explanation for the sudden explosiveness of my orgasms. I wasn't about to complain. It was awesome. But there were other differences, too, that might explain the improvement to our sex life. Like my husband and I were no longer two 24-year-old kids who were probably too young to make a lifelong commitment. We were parents. Two people who'd seen each other at their lowest — me moaning in a bathtub and him scared, sweating, and unsure.
He had held my hair as I vomited during transition and pressed his fists into my back until they turned white to keep the back labour from making me ask for the epidural. And we'd got through it together. It's not like we had more time. We didn't. He was working full-time, and I was at home with the baby day in and day out while also fostering a freelance career. Our lives were no longer our own. Leisurely Saturdays spent naked in bed were now spent in the park, swinging our active baby.
We take naps. We've learned to just grab any chance for a 10-minute quickie rather than hold out for a drawn out, all-night session. No parent's got time for that.
But the love was stronger. And the sex followed suit.
We now have three kids. Each time has been about the same. There is always a period, post-baby, when I think I will never want to have sex again, thanks to hormones and pain. But each time, the desire has thankfully come back.
I've asked my husband to pull the car over on the way home from date night. Or accost him in the woods during a walk at our family lake house. Or paw at his fly in the kayak in a secluded lagoon during an afternoon trip. When we are lucky enough to have a second alone, it's game on.
People tell you a lot about what having kids will be like. They warn you about how your sex life will disappear. They never tell you it could get better.
Last week, we found ourselves in a hotel bathroom. We were traveling with our three kids and had exactly zero minutes of privacy in five days. Our toddler was napping, so we excused ourselves to have a 'private chat'. It was like high school sex. Trying to stay quiet, fumbling around. It was hot, hotter than any sex we had pre-children. It helps that 15 years in we know each other's bodies so well and can get off faster. But it's more than that too. We are like war buddies. We've been through the trenches together, seen all the blood and pain. We emerged from the bathroom, flushed and amused. Once we were out of earshot of our nosy kids, my husband whispered to me, 'We've still got it.'