August 31, 2013 by Dadinator
I was going to open this post with a real rip-snorter of a joke. I was going to title it “SEX!” and then open the post with: There, now I’ve got your attention, this post is about Sex. But then I thought about it and I thought it was a shade puerile. This post is about physical relationships, but I want it to be a relatively adult and honest discussion, especially given it’s a taboo subject to so many. Don’t worry, there will be no grizzly details, but feel free to not read on if this is not your kind of thing.
I read this post on Reservoir Dad yesterday (great blog by the way!), and began to reminisce and reflect on my own expectations about how my relationship with The Mamanator would be effected when we saw that blue line come up on the pregnancy test. Then I thought about what our experience actually was and how those expectations were either realised or not. Things changed. Then changed again. Then changed some more. This post looks at some of those changes, how they stack up with the stereotypes bandied around relating to parenthood and sex and how we rode those changes together.
The “Glowing Pregnant Woman” (GPW) stereotype is a resilient one out there.
Women are supposed to get a burst of energy, have wonderful hair and glowing skin as they swim in a spa of happy hormones, especially during second trimester. The GPW is also a licentious and wanton creature of voracious sexual appetite as raging hormones stoke the libido. All the pregnancy books tantalise you with the suggestion that some women become more interested in sex during pregnancy, as if to suggest to you with a wink “that could be you big boy!” I confess I was hopeful when I first read it.
At the other end of the spectrum is this:
A bloated, exhausted, cranky and utterly sexless woman. She is an emotional train-wreck, ruled by a different set of hormones and wanting to bite the heads off any unfortunate males she happens across. This stereotype is more associated with the lager stages of pregnancy.
The reality, for us, was something a little different. With Hyperemisis andPGP keeping her occupied (both this time and last time), sexy time has been far from The Mamanator’s mind for most of her pregnancies. Being the mother of a toddler has also slowed things down. But they haven’t ground to a halt. She was more in the middle ground, probably reflecting what most people go through.
As for me, well, I have heard of men who are turned right off by pregnancy, I’m not one of them. I find The Mamanator very attractive when during pregnancy. I tell her so. A lot. I’m sure it gets annoying. And no, it’s not just the boobs (great as they are), it’s the whole shape, the extra curvature, the fullness and the womanliness of it all. I can’t really explain it any more than that.
Reconciling these differences has been a challenge at times. There has been less nookie with this pregnancy compared to the first, that’s the reality of having a toddler running around, but it hasn’t stopped completely. We take what chances we can, and enjoy them. As cliche as it sounds, it has made the encounters we have enjoyed more special.
After the birth of The Lad it took a while for things to settle down again. We were impatient, and tried to get back into things earlier than we should have. I have never been able to shake a feeling of guilt about it, wondering if I pushed her into it somehow. We had waited the 6 weeks the books tell you to wait for, but that first time after The Lad was born had it’s difficulties. Initially she thought she’d lost sensation, and that sex would never be fun again. She was not ready for that, the books didn’t talk about that stuff. She spoke to her doctor about it, and was able to get the low-down. “For about the next 6 months you probably won’t enjoy sex”, she was told. The Mamanator described the following months as having to learn how her body worked and what she liked all over again.
For me sex after birth was a little scary. It wasn’t because I’d seen The Lad emerge out of her vagina, I have heard this causes issues for some men. Not so me. Instead I was nervous about how it would feel, and that it might hurt her somehow if she wasn’t physically ready yet. It was a bit like having sex for the first time all over again, it was a similar kind of trepidation. “Will she like it? What do I do? How do I know if I’m doing it right?”. And all without the help of wine. We had to re-discover each other a bit after that first attempt but with patience, understanding and acceptance we got through it together.
Pregnancy and parenthood changes the nature of your relationship across the board, and the bedroom is no different. The Mamanator and I have always been open about this kind of thing with each other, and that helps a great deal. We also did our utmost to ignore the stereotypes mentioned above, much as one gets bombarded with them, and kept focussed on each other and our love one another. If I had any advice to give, that’s pretty much it.