Everyone remembers their first time.
The anticipation, the awkwardness, the promise to take it slow, the frantic removal of clothing, the copious amounts of lube, the pain, the stopping, more lube, more lube, more lube, the embracing each other afterward by the soft glow of the baby monitor ...
Yes, the first time attempting sex after having a baby is truly memorable. But it's also different for everyone (although lubricant really does appear to be a common theme), and that's why we asked our audience to tell us about their experiences in their own words.
The responses we received are honest, brave, empowering, terrifying (try not to cringe when you read the quote, "It felt like shaving blade ripping the inside of my vagina") and — most importantly — normalizing.
WATCH: Natalie relives her postpartum sex experience in the newest episode of "Life After Birth." Story continues below.
One of the goals of our new parenting series, "Life After Birth," is to bring conversations about the harder parts of motherhood out into the open. And postpartum sex is a difficult and awkward topic, as we discuss in our newest episode.
Many moms are given the green light to resume sexual activity at their six-week postpartum checkup. For some women, having sex six weeks after giving birth might seem LOL impossible. And that's normal. Others might feel ready to do it sooner than six weeks postpartum. That's also normal (although please check with your doctor or midwife before you rip off that bandaid, as having sex too soon can put you at risk for infection and other health issues).
The seven new moms we spoke with run the full range, from waiting just two weeks to waiting two full years. We hope their interviews will prepare you for your own experience, give you hope that it will get better, and make you feel less alone if You. Just. Cannot.
Because of the very personal nature of the interviews, some of the women requested that only their first names be used, or to remain anonymous.
Lives in: Moncton, N.B.
She waited: Two weeks.
The sex was: "Weird. Painful. Fun."
In her own words: "It really did felt like the first time you 'do it' and break your virginity. You will rediscover yourself, in the bad ways and good ways.
I didn't rip or receive sutures, so my doc told me anytime I felt like having sex again, I was more than good to go. So two weeks later, sleep deprived, breast full of milk, smelling like I haven't showered for two to three days, I decided it was time to get things going.
LOTS of (foreplay) to be very sure it's time to put 'the thing' inside. And then the feeling, I will always remember. It felt like shaving blade ripping the inside of my vagina. We did stop at that moment. And then I remembered what prenatal care class taught us about olive oil. Did you know olive oil is a great natural lubricant? Well, I didn't until then, but I can guarantee it works wonders.
So for the next few months, an olive oil bottle was chilling on our bedside table. We did restart our love making that first night again. But this time, we were prepared with olive oil and a position where he was in control to go SUPER slow and putting in just the tip (a.k.a. boring missionary)."
Name: Te-Anna Paradis
Lives in: Goderich, Ont.
She waited: Three weeks with her first baby, five weeks with her second.
The sex was: "Perfectly fine."
In her own words: "So many people have awful stories or are really afraid to get back at it. Both of my births were vaginal, no meds. The first one I only had a very minor tear. My hormones were raging postpartum and at around three weeks I surprised my husband by initiating sex. That first time was perfectly fine, he was cautious and careful. We didn't do it again for a few weeks after that but still no issues!
Baby #2 was born this past October. No tearing at all and I actually felt better the day I gave birth than I had while pregnant. We waited until five weeks mostly because life is crazy with a toddler and a newborn. Again, no issues or pain.
My best advice is to take it slow, and remember that lube is your best friend after having kids! Hormone fluctuations and exhaustion really changes things up, so it's really just easier to give your body that extra help."
Lives in: Victoria
She waited: Five weeks
The sex was: "Alright."
In her own words: "I will start by saying that my little guy was born three days before his due date. I had him completely natural, and tore a bit where I had previously with my daughter during her delivery. It wasn't a bad tear, but it needed stitches. We were told to wait six weeks postpartum. We did the deed at five weeks (shhhh don't tell my doctor, haha).
I felt up to it and missed the intimacy. We took it VERY slow. We stayed in missionary position. My partner is pretty well endowed, so missionary made sure that we didn't penetrate too deep. It felt all right. It didn't hurt me, but I wouldn't say it was overly pleasurable. My partner was pleasantly surprised about how normal everything felt down there, just like everything did before baby.
I don't regret it one bit, I am actually glad we did it in the early weeks as now my little guy is so busy, we hardly have time to get busy."
Lives in: Ottawa
She waited: Six months
The sex was: "Slow, gentle and I set the pace."
In her own words: "I have had six babies and I am pregnant with number seven. I have waited about six months for all of them for different reasons.
The first time, we waited because I tore internally very badly and was losing stitches for months, and then I was afraid. But, we also waited because being a new mom and constantly having a baby nursing left me uninterested. Which is also why we waited after other babies too. Part of being touched out, tired and just not interested. My husband has always been respectful and never initiated. He saw what I went through and how traumatic it can be.
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Becoming intimate after a new baby didn't start with intercourse. It really started with romantic make-out sessions. And I think that helped make it better. It was slow, gentle and I set the pace. Being intimate after a baby can be painful and for me, not being pressured helped. And our bodies change so much after having a baby. Our bodies are softer, things we used to like might not feel good anymore. So taking the time to figure it all out and being comfortable with your new body can take some time.
There's also the fact that when nursing, there is a "not above the waist" rule. All part of rediscovering each other. The relationship changes and so does the the physical relationship. Well, it did for us anyways. It doesn't have to be negative, it can be fun! And having a very understanding and loving partner helps."
Lives in: Ottawa
She waited: Nine months with her first baby, two weeks with her second
The sex was: "It's not pain-free."
In her own words: "We waited nine months. I was in agony for the first eight months and it hurt to walk, drive, and sit for long periods.
I had delivered naturally, and only sustained second-degree tears and I was given the all-clear at six weeks, because I had visibly healed. However, I had nerve damage that no one could diagnose and we didn't figure it out for a very long time. I was told repeatedly by several doctors that I was "fine," despite the fact that I would cry if I tried to push a stroller to the park. I didn't leave the house much.
At eight months, the numb/stinging sensation changed, and I went to a pelvic floor physiotherapist who suggested that the nerves must have regrown by now (who knew nerves took so long to heal?). She prescribed a vibrator with varying sized "heads" and we had to "desensitize" me before even attempting foreplay. Talk about mood killer.
It was comically clinical, and if I hadn't already had my hoo-ha on full display during childbirth, I'm sure I would have been too self-conscious to let my husband do that to me. But if he was the reason it was destroyed, I figured he should be part of the healing process. On a side note, have you heard that watching your wife give birth is like watching your favourite pub burn down?
In all seriousness though, we first attempted sex at six months postpartum. It hurt like hell, he hardly got in, I screamed/cried, and spent the next two weeks trying to convince him to leave me for someone who could perform "wifely duties." It's funny in retrospect, yet I was so hormonal, it was a horrible time. But once we fixed the plumbing, everything was good to go again at the nine-month mark.
We were in the process of deciding (arguing) about whether we should have more kids (me: no, him: yes), when I accidentally got knocked up ... We went the natural way again, even though my OB-GYN offered me a C-section based on all my previous complications. It was a huge risk, yet for some miraculous reason, I didn't have the same nerve damage.
I am now eight weeks postpartum with my son and I am WAAAAYYY better. As in, we already attempted sex again, and it's not pain-free, but I can see me getting back to normal in a few weeks. I don't know what was different this time. Heck, he was nine pounds three ounces which was two pounds heavier than my daughter! So if you are super fearful of baby number 2, based on what baby number 1 did to you, mine is a success story that should inspire you."
Lives in: Ottawa
She waited: 11 months
The sex was: "Better than I expected."
In her own words: "I can tell you that, after a vaginal birth and tearing, the thought of sex was terrifying for at least 10 months postpartum. I was single since pregnancy so I was happy I didn't have the pressure to please a partner or maintain a relationship.
One night, 11 months postpartum, I just suddenly felt like, yep, I'm ready! I called up an ex-boyfriend whom I've always felt really comfortable with sexually and he was happy to oblige. I was a little nervous at first, but it was better than I expected! Though boobs were definitely still off-limits.
The more we practiced, the better it got, but at this point I was still too exhausted to put any effort into being sexy. My body really wasn't truly healed for two years postpartum and I'm glad I was able to give myself that space to heal, with no pressure."
Lives in: Victoria
She waited: Two years
The sex was: "Better than I expected, but not awesome."
In her own words: "Baby's second birthday. The timing was a coincidence — it was a Saturday night and my only weekend off in a while. Why it took so long: vulvodynia (chronic pain in the vulva) that got worse after pregnancy, needed to wait for my breasts to heal after breastfeeding (though I stopped that business a year earlier), the challenge of finding the time with a toddler and my weird work schedule, and lack of libido.
But honestly, the biggest part was not wanting to have sex with someone when we're annoyed with each other 90 per cent of the time. And we have very different "love languages" — his way of expressing interest wasn't working for me. How it was: better than I expected but not awesome. It got better the one time since. What helped: counselling, lots of non-penetrative sex, and so much lube."
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