His, Mine, Theirs...Who's body was it?

Childbirth and motherhood inevitably change us.  This is a glimpse into my journey of Life After Baby.
“All clear,” the nurse abruptly replied after a cold and rather aggressive post-partum check-up.  “What are your plans for birth control?” she added. 

“Uh, we’ll use condoms,” I nervously replied, reverting back to a virgin version of myself like I was getting the sex talk for the first time.  “My body doesn’t react well to birth control pills,” I added, as though this woman deserved any sort of explanation of my contraceptive choice.  

“OK, anything else?” she asked without making eye-contact.  Anything else? ANYTHING else?  How all-encompassing was that question meant to be?  Sure, I had filled out the postpartum depression questionnaire in the lobby, and apparently I didn’t raise any red flags.  But that didn’t mean I didn’t want to talk about it.  Although, at this point,  I certainly didn’t want to talk about it with her.  Where was the bedside manner?  Here I was in all my 7-week postpartum glory, ridiculously proud of having gotten fully dressed and out of the house with my itty bitty nugget baby, anxiously awaiting a conversation with another adult about what life had been like for the past 7 weeks.  And I was placed with the one person who couldn’t care less.  As though the only thing I had come here for was to make sure my 3rd degree tears wouldn’t rip open when I inevitably had sex with my husband again. 
“Um, no I guess not,” I weakly responded, practically bolting out of the exam room.  I gathered up my baby and my husband in the waiting room and walked as quickly as I could to the car where I immediately felt a stream of tears flow from my eyes.  See, I have a history with anxiety and depression and I had been checking in with myself every 4.7 seconds since my son was born to make sure I was crying the appropriate amount of tears.  That I wasn’t too sad and that my emotions were being controlled by my wacky hormone levels and not a lingering depression ventriloquist.  I just wanted someone to ask if I was okay.  Because I actually was.  And I was really happy to be so happy with my new title of ‘mom’.   I just wasn’t sure who I was besides that.  Wife, daughter, sister, friend, woman- did I have a hat box big enough for all of these versions of myself? 

I had thought a lot about having sex with my husband after we got the all-clear.  I was scared of how it would feel.  The desire was there, but fear was lurking quickly behind it, followed by guilt.  Could I focus my mind and body on something other than my child?  I knew I should, but could I?  I had to try.  My marriage came first after all.  If that wasn’t strong, what good were we to our sweet boy?  

We finally gave it a go, and it hurt really badly.  I was uncomfortable the whole time but I didn’t want to stop.  Not because I was worried about what my husband would think, but because I wanted so badly to enjoy it.  I wanted to reclaim that version of myself and I knew this was a necessary step.  We got better over time, we bought the necessary items to make it more comfortable and we took our time.  My husband was a champion, never pushing the topic, only making sure I knew how loved I was and that he still thought I was just as beautiful, if not more, than I was before.  Sure, I wouldn’t take off my tank top that safely secured my nursing pads to ensure I wouldn’t spring a leak during our escapades.  Sure, I didn’t love the new lines on my soft(er) belly.  But he made sure I could still feel sexy.

In those weeks of trying to get our rhythm back, of trying to remember what sex was like before we were trying to get pregnant and then inevitably pregnant, I started to regain my sense of self.  I realized that my body was his (my husband’s:  as in, he is the only man I will be with) and his (my baby’s), AND mine.  I was my own being but I also gave to those I loved.  Through breastfeeding, hand-holding, kissing, sex, etc., I could be all of these things without losing my identity.  The journey of self-discovery and self-exploration and self-preservation shouldn’t ever end, lest we risk losing ourselves completely. 

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