Peer Review Requested

Remember how a long time ago I asked for your help with the direction of my post-partum sex piece for the mothers group magazine I’m working on? Well I finally wrote it and I would love to hear what you think. It’s not due for a week and I’d appreciate your thoughts. Please be honest – brutally so. I’m much rather scratch it and write it again than send in something mediocre.

Also, I’d love some input on the final paragraph. I feel like it’s too divergent from the rest of the piece, in both message and tone, and would love to know what you all think. Thanks in advance for your critiques!

“Everything looks great,” is a phrase all women want to hear from their doctor. Until this moment the only timed I’d hoped for the opposite was weeks after I’d gotten my toenail removed. I hoped it needed more time to heal and I’d be spared rest of the basketball unit in 5th grade PE.

I wasn’t.

This time I was six weeks post partum and hoping I’d be spared the entire return-to-sex –post-vaginal-delivery unit of my marriage. While my husband awaited the doctor’s okay with bated breathe, I remained ambivalent.

Couldn’t you just write me a note” I wanted to ask?  I figured if a doctor’s note could keep my over-zealous PE teacher at bay, surely it could deter my husband.

Instead I quietly thanked her, asking if she had any tips on our first time back in the sack.

“Lube,” she answered, “and lots of it.”

Of course, before visiting my OBGYN I had made it clear that I – not my doctor – had the final word in when we could resume sexual relations. They were my lady bits, after all and I would have to live with the repercussions.

Luckily my loving partner knew better than press the matter. As long as I was doing all the night waking and changing most of the dirty diapers, he had to concede the sex stuff to me.

And he did.

And we didn’t. Not for a long, long time.

The truth is I was terrified. As far as I could reason, even if it didn’t hurt (and I assumed it would, very much) it certainly wouldn’t feel the same. I mean, how could I possibly be intact down there? It seemed a biological certainty that my body had been irrevocably altered.

Normally when I felt this kind of anxiety about the unknown I consulted my trusty doctor – Dr. Google that is. Yet on this topic I kept my search strings to a minimum. I assumed the news could not be good. Why inundate myself with information when it would just depress me, or worse, scare me more?

Unfortunately I had no friends who’d been pregnant so I couldn’t ask anyone what to expect. At one point I did broach my concerns with my mother. Incredulous, she questioned why I suspected sex might be less satisfying post birth. I tried to explain that, when stretched to ten times its size, every material I’d ever come in contact with was left permanently altered. I know the human body can do remarkable things but can it really make way for a nine-pound baby and then shrink back down to size? The answer seemed obvious. My mother assured me that she had detected no difference in the satisfaction of sex post-birth and I clung to her conviction, though a part of me secretly suspected that it had been so long she might not remember accurately.

It wasn’t just the physicality of the act that deterred me; the truth is I was totally uninterested in sex on an emotional level as well. In those first months of motherhood I was with my daughter constantly. When she wasn’t latched to my breast she was draped over my shoulder or snuggled against my chest. Showers were the only time I had my body to myself and I was averaging three of those a week. The idea of sharing more of myself with someone else who depended on me was just too much.

That, and I was pretty sure my boobs morphing into surprise milk fountains would be more than either of us could handle.

Finally, three months after my daughter’s birthday, we did the deed. In the end the anxiety got the best of me; I just wanted to get it over with, to see if it were as bad as I feared. I was back on the pill, despite exclusively breastfeeding – my husband was not about to risk an unplanned pregnancy in the fourth trimester – so we didn’t need to worry about protection. Heeding my doctor’s advice I was armed with a generous supply of lubricant and applied it liberally.

We took it slow; my husband never made a move without my say so.  While things were tender there was no searing pain.  The final verdict was tentatively positive.

The biggest difference was surprisingly the opposite of what I had expected. All my fears about lacking sensation due to stretching were for naught – in fact the opposite was true. Turns out when you get stitches your lady bits can be taken in a bit. In fact, mine seemed to be tightened too much and it took a few months for sex to be completely comfortable again.

Our first post partum encounter in the sack wasn’t anything to write home about, but it got the job done; the reward for our efforts included renewed intimacy and rekindled emotional connection, not too mention 15 or so minutes of fun. And while sex continues to remain somewhat low on our (my) priority list, we try our best to make it a priority, lest we forget it can be a reward in and of itself.

3 responses

  1. Other than the opening paragraph, it’s great. I felt your pains and anxiety and worries – and I felt relieved, with you, when all turned out well. I felt compelled to read the whole thing to find out what happens in the end – which, I believe, is a good thing.

    The first paragraph I had to read three times to understand it. Is it grammar? Commas missing? Something else? I am not sure.

    It could very well be the “english is not my first language” thing, too 😉

    • Thanks so much for the comments – I’ll definitely rework the first paragraph. There is definitely a tense issue in there that I can’t figure out, but there is probably more. Thanks again!

  2. I know I’m a little late on this, but I really thought it was great. I wanted to skip ahead to find out how the sex was, but I was good and kept reading. I won’t lie, though, I was hoping you’d say it was a thousand times better post-birth….but I’ll settle for just as good. 🙂

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