Like many parents, my husband and I had big, big plans and ideas for our lives after our daughter was born.
“I think we should raise her like a Victorian-era child,” my husband said, “but, y’know, without the tuberculosis.”
We only half-jokingly planned to dress her in white gowns, give her wooden toys to play with and prevent her from seeing a screen until she was at least 3. There were many nights we spent patting my pregnant belly and dreaming of the way having a baby would change our lives and what aspects would remain the same.
“A lot of people stop having sex after the baby,” I remember saying. “Obviously there will be some recovery time, but I think we’ll be back in the swing of things soon.”
“Yeah,” my husband agreed. “I think most people just get wrapped up in everything where they lose sight of what’s important. They probably have more time in the day than they think they do, and they just talk themselves out of sex. But we won’t be like that.”
“No, we won’t!” I said.
Yeah. We were both wrong. SO WRONG. Like, laughably, pathetically wrong.
If you’re a parent, you can easily see that we were overconfident and misguided. Our daughter was born, and life happened; she started watching cartoons at about 16 months, has her own tablet and wears a lot of Gymboree. And my husband and I agree that our sex life has never been the same. My daughter is 3 now and it still hasn’t fully recovered.
Once the physical damage of the birth had healed, we faced other challenges that many parents are familiar with: exhaustion, sore nipples from breastfeeding. Did I mention exhaustion? But my daughter grew and was eventually weaned. Yet, sexy times didn’t exactly explode back into our lives. I’ve whittled down the challenges to two major things: desire and time.
The most inventive thing we did was drop our daughter off for ballet class and then drive the car to a gravel dead-end road and … you know!
Before we had children, we had sex whenever we felt like it, and we were generally happy with our love lives. Now, neither of us seems to want to get intimate very much. We make a lot of excuses. “I have a big day tomorrow … I ate too much for dinner … I pulled a muscle on the elliptical today.” Part of my issue, I know, is my body image. At this point, after a long battle, I have lost the baby weight—again—after I gained it all back. But many months have gone by where I felt undesirable and ugly. My husband was always encouraging and made it very clear that he found me attractive. But part of me just wouldn’t believe it.
Our other issue, as it is for many parents, is time. The thing about toddlers is that they’re around ALL THE TIME. Aside from a couple hours of nap time in the afternoon, the only time we have alone is in the evening. Unfortunately, my daughter’s bedtime routine was total crap and as soon as we finally got her down, we were both inches from sleep.
Recently, my husband sat me down and confessed how unhappy he was with our current sex life, or lack thereof. After I was done feeling hurt and blamed, we started brainstorming solutions to the issues with time and desire.
My husband told me that he felt the same as I did about himself. Since having our daughter, my husband has also struggled with his weight. I never really noticed that his body had changed much—obviously I wasn’t seeing him naked very much and I was more focused on how I looked—but he was also struggling with low self-esteem.
After going on a vacation where we did a lot of walking, we decided to keep the activity going. Each of us decided to modify our diets, work in more exercise and to support one another with it. I’m the primary cook, so I worked hard to adjust the meals to cut out sugars and carbs. My husband stopped cooking big breakfasts on the weekend and we’ve swapped bacon for yogurt. Since we’ve started, we’ve both lost weight and we intentionally compliment one another on our progress. A few butt taps and lewd emoji texts can go a long way for confidence!
As for time, well, we’ve just had to get creative. Sometimes if one of us wakes up about a half an hour before the alarm, we’ve given each other permission to wake up and have sex. On weekends, we drop everything the second she goes down for her nap. Other times, to be honest, we’ve put on a marathon of "Paw Patrol" on high volume in the other room and locked our bedroom door for a quickie. The most inventive (and the most racy!) thing we did was drop our daughter off for ballet class and then drive the car to a gravel dead-end road and … you know!
Though our sex life hasn’t quite gotten to the level that it was before our baby, through good communication, a commitment to health and some creative ideas, we’re on our way to a healthier relationship.