It has been a year since my daughter, the Little Mistress, was born at the ungodly hour of 5 AM in November of 2008. Celebrating her first birthday was an opportunity for my partner and I to take a victory lap; we had kept the baby alive for a whole year! We had, individually and as a couple, survived the first year of life with a baby.
We were warned that the first year of a child's life is the toughest. Everyone said, "it's so hard." No one said it was akin to hiking through the Himalayas without cold weather gear.
I could go into all the baby specific stuff; the waking up every two hours (it's been said before, but there is a reason sleep deprivation is used as an instrument of torture), the diapers, the baby proofing, the learning to walk, and so on. Having a special needs child added a whole layer to that; for months, we had at least one—often more—doctors' appointments per week for the Little Mistress's medical issues.
However tough having a child is, the real almost-casualties of the first year of our daughter's life were our marriage and our sex life. I've written before about some of the challenges we faced as new parents, but today I want to take you on our journey through the first year.
As anyone who has ever seen a TV show or movie involving pregnancy and delivery knows, the act of having a baby hurts. I gladly accepted/begged for the epidural, an injection which numbs you from the waist down, so there wasn't a lot of pain in the actual delivery of the Little Mistress. A few hours after having her, I moved from my bed to a wheelchair to be moved up to the postpartum floor—and discovered that while I had been numb, an 18-wheeler had collided with my vagina. I felt betrayed, as I had expected to be tender, not in agony. It would be almost three weeks before I could sit down and not wince in pain, or go four to six hours without my doses of painkillers. I couldn't even wrap my head around the notion of penetrative sex at that point.
The first few months of our daughter's life are hazy. Not just because she was in a hospital for an extended period of time, which meant my partner and I doing shifts by her bedside and sleeping, but because as an exclusively pumping mom I was up every few hours to express milk for my daughter. Once she was home, I was still pumping and my partner returned to work. I struggled with postpartum depression and went on Zoloft to cope with it, which unfortunately had the side effect of diminishing my already fragile sex drive. There were plenty of times when I questioned my decision to have a child.
At five and a half weeks postpartum, my husband and I had sex. This was when I learned that lube is a new mom's best friend. I was turned on, but I was tight and I was dry. I later learned that this vaginal dryness is a biological reaction to having just had a baby; in essence your body's way of trying to dissuade you from getting knocked up again so soon after having had a baby. As a woman who has never struggled in the area of lubrication, I was embarrassed and frustrated that lube was necessary.
At ten weeks postpartum,