baby

'When my obstetrician cleared me to have sex after birth, I laughed in her face.'

As a mum of two, the experience with my second was drastically different from my first. And one of those differences was the sheer amount of confidence and tenacity that came with having done it already.

I remember when we came home with our daughter from the hospital. My husband and I were nervous wrecks. I constantly stared at her. I sat in the backseat just in case anything happened. God forbid she spat up and got milk all over herself.

As those weeks passed by, I felt like I aged a decade. The first time I left the house by myself was when I went to my follow-up appointment with my OBGYN. As I sat in the room waiting for her to come in, I kept looking at my phone to see if everything was okay at home.

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She walks in. I look up, and she tells me to lie down so she can check my stitches. Then she tells me to sit up and get dressed.

She says with a wide smile, "Everything looks good, mama. Your incision is healing quite nicely. Oh, and you’re six weeks postpartum. Your wait is over. You can start having sex now. What are you doing for birth control?"

Before I can respond, she quickly checks my chart, "I see you didn’t get the tubal ligation procedure done because you’re planning on more kids, right?"

I nod.

She continues, "Well in the meantime, there are a few options like getting an IUD or would you like a prescription for the pill?"

I’m speechless because I hadn’t thought about any of this. From sleepless nights to feeling like a deflated balloon, getting between the sheets was the last thing on my mind.

I respond, "No, I’m okay. We’ll use condoms for now."

She stares at me, "Are you sure?"

I utter, "Yeah, it’s fine."

As I’m driving home, I think about what our sex life had been in the last six weeks and how it’s basically vanished into thin air. I don’t even remember kissing my husband before I left. I think I hugged him from the back because she spat up on his shirt. I wonder if this is normal.

Is not having sex and/or not wanting to have sex normal when you’ve just given birth?

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Why did she care so much about making sure I was using birth control? Are other couples dying to do it right after having a baby and can’t resist one another? Are couples getting surprise pregnancies during this time and that’s why she was so adamant about this?

Was getting approval from my doctor something I was supposed to look forward to?

When I arrived home, my mind switched gears, and I transitioned into mummy mode. But that night as my husband and I were watching TV on the couch, I began to feel inadequate. We used to have sex frequently and now it’s down to zilch.

I turn to him and say, "You know we haven’t done it in ages and the doctor told me today that we can now."

He slowly turns his head and looks at me with his tired eyes, "Oh yeah?"

I sigh and say, "But I’m not in the mood. My boobs are ridiculously sore. I think she’s completely ripped my nipples apart. Plus, I’m so exhausted. I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired in my life."

He gives a relieved sigh, "Yeah, me too."

I mutter, "But are we supposed to be having sex? She gave us permission to do it so that means we should, right?"

At that moment, we hear our daughter crying on the baby monitor.

My husband gets up and looks me in the eyes, "Just because we can, doesn’t mean we need to... at least for now."

And his words stuck with me. Similar to all the parenting advice I’ve seen and heard over the years, there are many different ways to raise a child. And there are many different ways to keep a relationship healthy. There’s no best way to do this, just the right way that works for us.

Although it may seem boring and lame, scheduling sex and date nights have become a regular part of our life. It’s hard to be spontaneous when our kids can interrupt us at any moment. Our sex life may not be the raging fire that it was before having kids; however, the intimacy we feel towards each other has grown into an eternal flame that glows throughout the years.

A few years later when I had my son, I went in for my postpartum check-up with my OBGYN. As she started talking about birth control, I couldn’t help but interrupt her with a burst of laughter,

"Look doc, I’m going to be straight with you. You don’t have to worry about me getting pregnant anytime soon because we’re not having sex. And we won’t be for a little while. I’ll make an appointment with you once we schedule our next date night."

And with that said, she nods and says, "Okay, you’re good to go."

Katharine Chan, MSc, BSc, PMP is an author, wife and mum of two. She writes stories to empower individuals to talk about their feelings despite growing up in a culture that hid them. You can find more from Katharine on her website or podcast, or you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Feature Image: Getty.

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