We recently welcomed our fourth child into our family and I thought I’d write a bit to reflect what’s going on on the sexual side of things in terms of pregnancy and after the birth from the male perspective.
Now, I know this may rub wrong with the women who read this, because pregnancy is typically all about the women. I can’t speak for that side, so I’m going to post on behalf of the men, especially myself. I want to let people know about the struggles involved for the husband, because we get overlooked a lot during this time, and frankly, it’s dangerous.
Now, this is a generalization based on my experiences, there will be exceptions, but I think what’s happening in our household is fairly normal.
So, if you are planning to get pregnant, things start of great! Your wife wants sex all the time (or at least while she’s fertile), she seems always in the mood and ready at the drop of a hat. Now, here’s where the first conflict emerges:
- You want to get pregnant, because you want to meet your kids
- You don’t want to get pregnant, because you never want the sex-fest to end
In my case, we seem to be very fertile. Yay for kids. Boo for sex. I think with one of them, we tried for 2 fertile periods. The others, one.
So, assuming everything goes well, congratulations, your pregnant. What does this mean? Well, it means a few things. Your partner may experience all or some of:
- Morning sickness, which, deceivingly named because it’s not necessarily just in the morning. Getting in the mood while nauseous is difficult at best. Impossible at worst.
- Crazy hormone shifts = mood swings. Think PMS, but for 9 months, off and on. Getting her in the mood with this is like running through a minefield. Sure, you may succeed. But you might die.
- Her body is changing drastically…as in getting bigger. Your wife will not like this. She will feel insecure about her body. This means she doesn’t want you to see or touch it. Getting her in the mood without touching her, and without her realizing that if you succeed, you will be, is well, a shot in the dark. Coincidentally, your likely to have sex only in the dark because she doesn’t want you to see her.
- Her body is changing shape. You may not be able to use your favorite positions, especially later on. That baby takes up a lot of room when your trying to be close.
Now, some women say that pregnancy makes them horny. I have never experienced this, or met someone who admitted to having experienced this. So I’m starting to believe it’s a myth to give us men false hope. I prefer to know the truth so I can brace for reality. Don’t assume your wife will all of a sudden be a sex-fiend while pregnant. Your changes aren’t good, and it will just disappoint you.
So, if everything goes well, after pregnancy, you have a birth. I highly suggesting being there. I suggest you catch the baby, and cut the cord. Take tons of pictures. Do anything to be involved, because frankly, it’s about the only involvement your going to get. More on that in a second. One more note about birth: If you are squeamish, this might mess you up for a bit. Some of your favorite parts of your wife aren’t going to look like you remembered. It’s OK, they go back. Don’t let it freak you out. I’m telling this, because you’ll be too embarrassed to ask.
Back to your involvement. Assuming you have family and friends, they are going to be around all the time for the next week, and they won’t be much interested in you. Your wife and the baby will get all the attention. Add to this that your wife is absolutely overdosed on oxytocin (a hormone that chemically bonds her to the new baby), so she’s absolutely focused on your new addition. That’s why she can sit and just stare at her for minutes on end. We don’t get that benefit. For a lot of men, babies are really sort of boring. It’s not until they get to about 2 years old that they really become fun, because then they can start to really play and connect.
So, let’s recap:
- Started with tons of sex
- Dwindling sex during pregnancy (if at all)
- Not only no sex after birth, but no attention at all.
At this point, we’re emotional starved, our love-tank is empty, and being men, we never learned to cope with this. In fact, most of us don’ t even know why we’re miserable. We think it’s just because we’re not having sex, but that’s just the most obvious metric. There is a cognitive dissonance (conflict) in our brain. Our mind is telling us “Remember, she loves you”, but our emotions are telling us “She’s ignoring you, she’s pushing you away, she doesn’t want you”. Go with your mind on this one, it’s better at thinking long-term.
Most of us reconnect emotionally with our spouses through sex. We’ve had little sex (read: emotional connection) for the last 9 months, and now we’re not only getting no sex, but no attention. We feel so disconnected from our spouses, but lacking the emotional tools that women are taught (because they’re allowed to have emotions), we don’t know how to name it, let alone cope with it, or address it.
And, here’s the ugly part: If you manage to realize what’s going on, if you notice that your emotionally disconnect, if you recognize you need time and attention from your wife, you will stop yourself from asking/demanding/pleading for it, because, well, she has enough to worry about with the new baby. I don’t mean this sarcastically. It’s a big shift for her too, there’s a lot going on. But I’m not writing about that, enough other people will.
What I do think is that any time you put your children ahead of your spouse, your marriage will suffer. Granted, occasionally that needs to be done. I think having a baby is one of the best reasons for it. I just think that we often fail to remember/notice that there is suffering going on that isn’t as noticeable as lack of sleep or lack of time. It’s a lack of intimacy.
Most of this is just a rant, because, well, it’s been just over a week since we had a baby, so you know what stage I’m at. I’m writing this mostly to help me process what’s going on, in the hopes that I won’t be so frustrated. As for advice, all I can offer is:
Advice for the men
Be patient. Your wife will be yours again soon. If she isn’t within a month or two, seek help. Sometimes it happens that the wife forgets to be a wife when she becomes a mother.
Advice for the women
Just show some attention to your husbands. It doesn’t have to be full on sex, your probably not physically ready for that, but there are alternatives. And even if you feel that “getting in the mood” is an impossibility, then just give him the attention he needs. Guys don’t get as much out of hugging and kissing as sex, but, when you’re starving, you’ll settle for crumbs just to survive.
Finally, I just want to say, in order not to give the wrong impression: Having children is an amazing blessing, I highly suggest it. It’s a life full of sacrifices, but the rewards far out weight them.
Have you been through this? What was your experience?