Before I had kids, I was cool. I worked for a major magazine publisher in Sydney and wore 13cm stilettos every day. I attended pop-up bar launches and movie premieres on the reg. I even wrote a sex and dating advice column for one of the leading men’s magazines at the time. My headshot for the mag was all boobs and eyeliner and big hair.
When an up-and-coming American publisher asked me to write a sex self-help book as part of his new series, I naturally accepted. I was a little worried about being pigeon-holed as “that sex advice chick”, but I was willing to take the risk to become a published author.
Shortly after I signed the book deal, I watched in awe as two little pink lines appeared on my home pregnancy test. I was so excited to be a mama! And I had just enough time to finish writing my book before bubba arrived – the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Because I was about to enter this new chapter in my life, I was adamant that I’d include useful advice for married couples and parents in my book. After interviewing several couples I knew, I enthusiastically typed out what I thought were some hot tips to help bring sexy back after kids. Make time for sex! Be more affectionate! Try new positions! Bahaha … what a ding-dong.
I was so clueless
As my belly grew and my feet swelled, my sex drive steadily plummeted. My husband was also a tad weirded out about the whole process (would the baby get a black eye? … kidding … sorta), so by month five of my pregnancy, there was tumbleweed blowing through our bedroom.
When our beautiful daughter finally arrived, the last thing on my mind was having sex. My boobs felt like they’d been trampled by a herd of wild boars and let’s not even talk about what was going on inside my granny panties. No-fly zone.
But six weeks passed and things were looking a little better down there, so we had our first post-partum horizontal hula sesh. Yeeeeeshhhh. That was NOT what I had expected. Nothing felt the same and my boobs leaked the whole time. Blergh.
I’d love to say that things got better over the course of the next year, but as my level of exhaustion increased at the hands of my sleep-hating milk monster, my desire continued to plunge. I couldn’t even be bothered to shave my legs let alone get my sexy on.
What had happened to me?! I’d gone from saucy minx to sexless matron in less than a year. All my worst nightmares were coming true.
And then this happened …
As our bub started to sleep longer stretches and the fog began to lift, things slowly improved in the bedroom. We no longer slept at opposite ends of the bed and we even started discussing the possibility of trying for another baby.
So, we did. And we got two. Twin girls. Ermagerd.
We were beside ourselves with a strange cocktail of elation and terror. It’s a very difficult feeling to describe.
A feeling that isn’t hard to describe AT ALL is how shockingly terrible I felt during my pregnancy. The double dose of hormones and the sheer enormity of my belly turned me into a shell of my formerly perky self.
Because my husband had come to terms with the whole sex-during-pregnancy thing by then (desperate times call for desperate measures), we surprisingly racked up more notches on our bedpost than the first time around. But the neighbours weren’t exactly yelling at us to keep it down.
The worst was yet to come
I’ll give you the lowlight reel of the next three years of our lives: exhaustion, stress, tension, pressure, overwhelm, tears, anger and fighting. Very little affection or intimacy. Life with three kids under three was HARD and we were struggling.
Of course, there were countless beautiful moments too. We felt so lucky to have our tribe of girls and we wouldn’t have changed a thing. But the fact was that our relationship and our sex life had been put through the meat grinder.
When you’re so tired that you just want to curl up in the foetal position on the floor most days of the week, a wild romp in the sack isn’t exactly at the top of your list of priorities. When you and your partner are both stretched to your absolute limits, there are moments where you truly believe that you hate the person you married and procreated with.
Young children can strip even the strongest couples of their time, energy, intimacy and desire. It starts as a wedge and turns into a chasm.
Finally, some good news …
Before you start crying into your XL latte, here’s the silver lining: it does eventually get better. If you can weather the storm of the first couple of years, the clouds will start to part and you’ll realise that you don’t actually despise the person you share your bed with. You may even be pleasantly surprised to discover that you want to get it on with them again. Woohoo!
But damn it, I wish someone had told me how hard it would be for a while. If I’d known that most couples were also struggling behind closed doors rather than feeling all loved-up and having all sorts of great sex, I wouldn’t have felt so inadequate. I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed about not being able to apply one single piece of my own advice.
I wish I’d written this in my book: if you don’t have sex for a couple of months when you have young kids, you’re normal. If you feel like a crappy wife because you’d rather change a poopy nappy than do the deed most nights, you’re not alone. If having your boobs touched makes you cringe rather than swoon, welcome to the club. And if you’re a man who doesn’t feel like having sex for a while after having kids, that’s completely normal too.
Be gentle and kind to yourself. Try to accept that right now, it’s like this. Give it some time. It will eventually get better.
That’s what I wish I’d written.