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Lost That Lovin’ Feeling?
February 9, 2011 6:05 am | by

Disclaimer: Today on the blog we are talking about sex. If you have children who can read and don’t want to have an awkward conversation, we recommend reading this with some privacy. We’re addressing this issue today because it was a highly requested topic last fall when Cotton Babies customers suggested topics for Real Mom Talk.

Previously, we’ve discussed in Real Mom Talk about some of the physical changes that occur in our bodies post birth. Today, we’re going to discuss a bit about how to deal with the psychological changes.
In those early baby days, you battle sleep deprivation, delivery recovery, trials of breastfeeding and more. Your body may feel like a battleground. You feel pulled in multiple directions, especially if you have more than one child, and we’re not even counting housework.
If you are lucky, after a few weeks you begin to feel as if you might be finding a new routine. Then, out of nowhere, it’s time for the 6 week post-partum doctor’s visit. The doctor gives you the “green light” with a wink and a knowing smile and maybe you groan internally, knowing something else was just added to your to-do list.
Now, I know that’s not the case for everyone, but with the informal research I’ve done, I know it’s fairly common. I also know it’s not something many moms like to talk about. As women, we also want healthy relationships, and we all know that takes work in a lot of different areas.
When my daughter was born, I found myself with four children, three years and under and living in a multi-family, multi-generational household, including my in-laws. Some very wise women gave me some of the best advice regarding my marriage, and I’m going to share it with you as a pre-Valentine’s Day treat.
Simply put, I had to change the way I thought about our sexual relationship. Our family had changed, my body had changed, it only makes sense this aspect of our relationship had changed too.
I had to stop thinking of my husband as yet another person demanding my attention and wanting to touch me. Stop thinking of sex as just a way to have children. Stop thinking it had to be spontaneous like in our newlywed, no baby days. I had to choose to think of sex as the gift only I could give him. He chose me. He asked me to marry him. I said “I do”, and this is an exclusive part of my marriage.
The other thing those wise women shared with me was that when you have young children, you have to plan for sex. As much as your life may feel like a soap opera, this part is not easy like in the soaps. You have to plan, communicate and schedule, if necessary. They even suggested coming up with a “secret code” with your husband so you would know when to expect it and you could adequately prepare. And by prepare, they meant mentally as well as physically. Preparing mentally could mean clearing off your to-do list so you wouldn’t be running lists in your mind when it was your time as a couple, getting rid of anger about the trash not being taken out or reminding yourself of all the “good old days” when you were a newlywed (you know, those things that would make your heart beat faster and your palms sweat). Preparing physically could be taking a shower (we all know what a luxury those are with a newborn), tidying the bedroom, or wearing a nice outfit that makes you feel good about yourself.
What’s a “secret code”, you ask? It’s something between you and your partner that indicates the other is interested in physical affection. It could be a text message with a special phrase. It could be a certain candle that is lit when you come home from work. I’ve even heard of a husband who brings his wife her favorite Starbucks drink as their special signal. You may laugh, but it works and they’ve been married a long time. The idea is that it is a signal you both know and so you both can prepare, mentally and physically, for whatever your agreed upon time and place is.
As ridiculous as all of this may sound, it’s helped a lot of couples get through those rough early years with their babies with their relationship still intact.
Here at Cotton Babies, we assume nothing about our customers. This post is about my (Heather’s) personal experiences. We realize every relationship is different and we respect those differences.
As you think about your Valentine, how do you manage to keep your relationship healthy through the early years of parenthood? Do you have a secret code that you want to share? Tell us your tips for keeping a lasting relationship with your partner (please keep it PG-13).

About the Author

Heather is mom to four, born within 40 months (single, twins, single). She writes transparently about her chaotic household to encourage others through the twists and turns of parenting.



  • Anonymous said...
    February 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Agreed! This can for sure destroy a marraige. A midwife of mine told me once for a woman 99 % of enjoying it is what you think of it. All the mind. So if you go into it thinking let’s get this awful job over with, it will be just that… AWFUL! But if you actually think about how much of a hard worker your husband is throughout the day and how things would be awful without him …. And they would. Working two jobs just to live in a dump and pay that babysitter who isn’t actually watching your baby because you can’t afford a nicer daycare… and mowing the grass and shoveling the snow…. and trying to make ends meet… Fun! FUN! Think about how blessed you are to have your husband and you will actually find yourself perhaps maybe wanting to. 🙂 And it will be fun! I say this all because I was the let’s get this over with woman until I got all that garbage out of my head.

  • Amber Joy said...
    February 10, 2011 at 8:48 am

    This was a great article, and so timely. I can’t let that last anon comment go without saying… that leaving my husband to pick up the “slack” with the p*rn on the internet has wreaked havoc on our marriage. I’d like to encourage her to find a better way of meeting her husband’s needs, and I think, Heather, that you have hit that nail on the proverbial head.

  • Anonymous said...
    February 9, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    This was helpful, for sure, because all my mom friends seem to be newly divorced and out on the prowl–actually working really hard–just to get some action, while I really just want to be left alone. My kids are 4 and 18 months, I’m still nursing, and really, I don’t care if I never have sex again. How do people manage to have more than 2 kids!?

    We do it every weekend at my husband’s insistence and it’s probably a good thing. As someone else noted, it’s “fun” once it’s over, but getting into the mindset is really difficult, because it really does seem like just another aspect of my “job.” Frankly, I’ve delegated some of the work to the naked ladies on the Internet–they really help take up the slack during the week.

  • Anonymous said...
    February 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you. I really needed to read this. I have a newborn and a toddler, and when my husband gives me “the look,” all I can think is, “Great. Someone else who needs something from me.” Changing my perspective to think of sex as a gift that I can give him is so helpful and so freeing.

  • Anonymous said...
    February 9, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I got some really good advice too, to remember that intimacy with my husband almost always ends up as “fun”, no matter how I feel about it at the start (and excepting of course postpartum pain issues). So true! I always end up enjoying myself, so to remember that at the start is a good mindset to have and helps me be more spontaneous too.

  • Anonymous said...
    February 9, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    We are so tired at night that it is hard to find the motivation to have sex, but if we go too long then I start running on empty (emotionally). So weekend nap times have been our fix. Especially Sundays. We go to church, come home and eat lunch, put the kiddos to bed, and then head that way ourselves. We even get in a nap too. I am so glad I worked so hard to make sure our kids were good nappers! 🙂

  • Anonymous said...
    February 9, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Our daughter is nearly fifteen months old and still sleeps in our bed, despite trying since the early days to get her sleeping on her own. It has made for an interesting challenge in our physical relationship, but it has also forced us to think differently and when we rise to the challenge our relationship is better than before. Pre-baby we were starting to stagnate a bit, honestly. Things are so much more exciting if you have to plan ahead, and those rare times when we get to be spontaneous are so much more appreciated. It took us quite a while to figure out that changes could be a blessing, but they can!

  • Ashley said...
    February 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I think we had some disconnect after our son was born — but after a couple months we sort of fell into a routine where we had sex… not enough, lol, but we were both comfortable. I know that sounds terrible, but we both feel generally more relaxed and less stressed when we have a healthy amount of sex (for us; I know that’s a number that varies between couples!).

    The thing I realized was that in January when my son stopped breastfeeding so often my libido turned back on to pre-baby rates. It was insane (and fun)! So I second: if you’re breastfeeding, keep in mind that it affect your whole body.

  • Laundry Lady said...
    February 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

    We had a really rough year after my daughter was born. My daughter didn’t sleep for almost a year and my recovery was not what I anticipated. People warned me about possible vaginal dryness with breastfeeding, but I don’t feel like that was an adequate description. It took me almost 9 months to figure out what was wrong. It was awful, I was beginning to wonder if having a child had ruined my sex life forever. I thought I was the only woman who had ever had that experience. My sister, who is an OBGYN PA finally put it in a way I could understand, “breastfeeding gives you the vagina of a 65 year old.” While that didn’t present me with a happy picture of post menopausal sex, at least it let me know what I was up against. Next time I’ll just ask my doctor for some kind of prescription level vaginal moisturizer and save myself 9 months of misery. Fortunately, once my daughter was weaned at 13 months, things went back to normal within a month. If anything, things are actually better than before. I guess the moral of the story is to ask for help way sooner than I did, whatever struggles you are going through, you are probably not the only one.

  • Anonymous said...
    February 9, 2011 at 10:30 am

    great article, i agree, my hubby and i talk about these things (sometimes we wait to long to clear the air but eventually) and he realizes that i can get over-touched and that i am really tired most of the time, it has really helped him to understand that it is not him, it is me and this is where i am at. and i do think if sex as something i need to do for my husband and our relationship, and someday, i will really enjoy it again =)

  • Anonymous said...
    February 9, 2011 at 10:24 am

    My husband and I have been extremely blessed in that there was no discomfort postpartum. Our little one has extreme sleep issues and that has resulted in exhausted parents. Sometimes I’m afraid to drive. However, we’ve been making it work. TTC was a 4 year process and switching gears to it being more recreational vs conception has been the greatest challenge of all. But it has been fun. *smile*

  • Jill said...
    February 9, 2011 at 9:35 am

    It’s all about comfort (physical, emotional, and intimate comfort). Your doc will do a pelvic at your 6 week check up and if you try and go for it the same night, it will HURT. We learned to just ‘have fun’ when we could. That might have meant an early night when we had a young infant that went to bed early (and so did we), later when we had an older infant who slept through the night, or during nap time or while your child is distracted by a tv show as a toddler-thank God for Sesame Street! We don’t have a code word, but we’ve mutually agreed to just ask the other person however we feel comfortable, whether it’s flirting or more direct. Then, if the other person doesn’t feel like it, it’s no big deal, usually by the next day the other person is not as tired, doesn’t have a headache, whatever. Tell your partner what you want, that will help too, since you may have different tastes post birth. Hopefully that’s pg enough!