Remember me? I love you!
The greatest fear I ever had to overcome was childbirth. I knew it was coming, I didn’t know what to expect. The very idea of expelling a human body out of my own body was nerve-racking, yet I conquered that fear, not once, but twice. Who knows, I might do it again.
My second greatest fear was post-partum intimacy. This fear was heavily fuelled by my first fear. Having suffered an injury during the expulsion of my humans, you can only imagine the untold terror of possibly causing secondary or extended damage. (Where is my blue-faced emoji when I need him!)
Besides all these fears, let’s not forget the flippant yet pushy demands, from a small and completely dependent little creature, that understands neither time nor personal space. Their existence is solely reliant on my ability to nurse, kiss, bath, and answer to their every beck and call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for as long as they deem necessary (then we call them overgrown babies).
The idea of rekindling romance and bonds with your spouse can fall into the pending pile, if not checked. It is very possible to drift apart and even forget why you are together. If anything, the
daily management and administrative tasks associated with a baby can result in the formation of an unintended business partnership or World War III. You could find yourself in a very formal and professional relationship in the home or worse a battleground of two exhausted, expectant, and high-strung lovers. As they say, ‘there is a very thin line between love and hate’ (choose your emotion wisely).
I, for one, was very picky about my child. What she wore, ate, or played with. How her clothes were washed, ironed, and packed. My life literally revolved around expressing milk, work, expressing milk again, feeding her, cooking for and feeding everyone else, putting her to bed, doing her laundry then sleep for about 4 hours, and starting the cycle again. I was always tired and did not have much time for rest or leisure. I was trying to be the ‘best’ mom possible, or at least what I thought the best mom ought to be.
At the time, when I thought of intimacy and romance, I was of two minds. On one hand, I missed my husband desperately and on the other, I was content with the prospect of becoming a sister to him, as if he doesn’t have enough sisters!
I soon realized that we needed to be creative and adventurous in our re-connection. The probability of a baby waking up or crying at that very moment that the gentle, soft music makes you both weak in the knees. Or your milk makes a very rude entrance just as your love hormones are running rampage. You have to find a way to adapt and adjust to the new normal.
Here are my tips on how to weave romance into a new way of life;
Schedule date nights. They may be out or within the home, whatever the case they are necessary. Make sure if you are going out, you have prepared the milk and other basic essentials for the human and will not be disturbed for the duration of your outing. However, if the date is at home; all other residents need to become temporarily extinct (including the small human) until the date is over. You need to set clear rules about phones and conversations topics, so you don’t fall into the administrative trap during those treasured moments.
Communicate. I can’t say this one enough. When communication is lost, so is the desire to connect. Romance is purposefully done. Exchange messages and calls throughout the day, building the anticipation for when you come together. Keep talking and telling each other those things that you as an individual want to hear. Be vulnerable and honest with each other. After all, who else but your spouse, can you share that level of intimacy with? Talk to one another!
Acceptance of a new normal. I find that when couples get into that new baby funk, one spouse will always accuse the other of changing. The thing is, yes, they have changed! Why haven’t you? Open your eyes; there is a baby in the house. Surely life cannot continue to stay the same. Acknowledging the change and adapting to the new state of affairs with compassion and understanding is the best advice I can share.
Plan for intimacy. As much as it sounds mechanical, it is necessary. With everything else happening around you, intimacy will definitely fall to the wayside. Therefore, just like bathing the baby or sending that email; plan for sex, with a strict no rain check policy. If the baby wakes up, feed it, change it, pacify it, whatever it takes, and quickly get back to the mission of the hour. DO NOT BE DISTRACTED, STAY FOCUSED! You can even have a code to alert your partner about your need, like 'kunenge kuchanaya' (looks like it might rain)?
Be prepared. For some women not all, pregnancy hormones have a way of messing with their reproductive machinery. Friends have confessed to experiencing excessive dryness, failure to lubricate naturally, or even lack of desire. Which of course becomes very awkward, uncomfortable, or painful, and subsequently can result in the avoidance of sex altogether. In my case, I had no idea if I would fall into that category, so I did what any scared woman would do, I looked for solutions from my Doctor. As luck would have it, my hormones were merciful and my machinery worked perfectly. However, if you are not sure, prepare safely and adequately (consult your Doctor). At the same time, this is an act of love, not a drive-through (though some very quick sessions may be inevitable)! Take your time and be patient with each other. Foreplay is very necessary for reassurance, preparation, and relaxation.
Think happy thoughts. After my first 6 week wait, fear of the unknown had my life at a standstill. By the time I had baby number 2, I was literally counting down the days because I was no longer afraid. I was thinking of him all the time. The mind, is a powerful tool, use it well, and it will manage the rest of the body. In other words; relax.
Engage in random acts of kindness toward each other. I know it may seem crazy, however, deliberate effort to keep your spouse, ‘top of mind’, strengthens your appreciation for them and your relationship. It also reminds you of their worth and value in your life. I’ve heard some men buy ‘Push’ presents to say thank you. We celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day, however, those roles do not need a day of celebration, because we ought to be celebrating each other daily. A reminder of one’s love or assumption of a task or duty to relieve the other, are simple acts that strengthen a bond and show appreciation. It can also be the preparation of a favourite meal or purchase of more comfortable clothing. Whatever your love languages are, tap into them to improve your relationship. This also keeps all other forms of ‘entanglements’ bay.
Seek to Understand. Spouses, appreciate that besides there being a baby in the house, your dear partner has gone through 9 months of immense body changes. Some she may not be comfortable about. May your love reflect your appreciation for what her body went through and embrace her new figure unconditionally. She may or may not return to what you knew, all the same, she needs your reassurance about your unphased love, despite the changes and any body hang-ups she may have. At the end of the day, we all need to feel safe and secure in our relationships.
Take it easy. Lastly, remember to take it easy and laugh. Laugh your way through the tears, the happiness, and the confusion. Be the best of friends. I can't imagine what we staved off with laughter. Rest assured, when we laugh, tears, and who knows what other liquids, are shed! There are very few dull moments with my guy. We agreed life was too short to spend it all arguing or being angry. Why lose heaven over an unmet expectation? Have you met all the expectations placed on you? Let go and move forward laughing. Always circle back and reflect on why you are where you are!
Remember this, the purest love, is the love that keeps loving with the same intensity through the different phases of life. Rekindling the sparks can be done. You just have to be conscious and willing to make it happen. So relax, bury the fear and enjoy the spouse of your youth.