Six weeks after my second son was born in 2009 I embarked on a "Six Month Sex Challenge."
My motivation was simple: after having my first son -- who was 26 months at the time -- trying to get sex back on track was, at times, a complete gong show. And that was with me making a concerted effort to have sex at least once a week.
With baby number two, I decided to make sex after a 'work' project. For six months I attempted to have sex with my husband at least once a week. (And for the record, I couldn't believe the number of people who thought sex once a week wasn't enough. Really? It was a tricky trying to fit in a shower let alone hot sex with my husband.)
But not just any old sex. Oh no.
I upped the ante by trying out all different sorts of ideas every week like erotic massage, sex toys and sexy board games to see how and if they work. As well, once a week the sex was all about me and the alternative week the sex was all about my husband.
We saw how having scheduled and planned out sex worked through exhaustion, teething, flu season and all the other things that got in the way of great sex with two small children.
Six Month Sex Challenge in Retrospect
In one of those rare quiet moments it hit me just how much happened in six months -- from positive to negative. Flashes ranging from being so exhausted I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind, to being incredibly happy that I was making efforts, to fights over sex (god!), to extremely tender moments.
The six months were truly a roller-coaster ride and I've learned why it is just so darn difficult to have sex after baby. I also appreciate why it's important to make the effort.
Here Are the 20 Things I Learned About Having Sex After Baby
(1) Having a decent sex life is work and takes effort. The days of spontaneous sex are over...at least for the next 18 years.
(2) For at least the first six months, it probably won't be the best sex of your life...or even close.
(3) There will be fights over sex, even if you're having sex.
(4) Whatever couple challenges you didn't resolve before baby, will ultimately be magnified once baby arrives...and it will affect a woman's will, want and desire for sex.
(5) Sex is so much more than having intercourse. And in fact, at this juncture there needs to be more emphasis on intimacy rather than sex.
(6) You need to get into the habit, or at the very least communicate about sex early. The longer you leave it, the longer it will sit between the two of you like the big white elephant in the room.
(7) Unless you look for time to spend with your partner whether you are having sex or not, it won't happen.
(8) Finding a mutually agreed upon time -- some might call this scheduled sex -- like baby's nap time is the best way to make sure sex happens.
(9) Ladies, you have to think like a man when it comes to sex: that is, you've got to have sex on your terms and not feel guilty taking what you want.
(10) Which means you have to figure out what you want out of the sexual experience -- generally it's about being nurtured -- and communicate that to your partner.
(11) When the sex is all about what you want, it will re-energize you.
(12) Having sex is not static (i.e. once a week); rather a constantly evolving entity that needs to be nurtured and respected as much as your new baby's evolution.
(13) There will never be a perfect time to have sex.
(14) Therefore, you need to have "despite" sex. Despite everything that's going on, you'll make an effort to make time for each other.
(15) It's important to mix things up and bring new ideas in.
(16) All your creative energy can't go into your kids. Some of it has to be reserved for your partnership.
(17) You can't let excuses get in the way. It's way too easy to say, "I'm tired" because you genuinely are tired. Soon though it may turn into an excuse you automatically use without thinking.
(18) Be careful to not consistently have five-minute quickie/"maintenance sex."
(19) Sometimes sex will energize you and you will remember why it's fun to have.
(20) It's probably the only time you're going to be close, so enjoy and make the most of your time together.
Like anything else in life, sex after baby isn't difficult but it does take two people committed to their relationship.