Everyone talks about what to expect when you’re expecting. But what should you expect after your baby arrives? We asked three dads about all the changes in the bedroom after you have kids — from the time they’re a baby until they’re an adult.
Chris, Eight Months After Childbirth
It’s been almost a year, but my wife and I only started having sex again about three months ago. It’s been tough for me — the whole baby thing is tough, man! It’s our first child, and we don’t spend much time together like we used to, obviously. When we do, it’s usually because we’re handing off my daughter to each other, or we’re putting her to bed. That’s been a big change from before, because we had similar schedules, and we always ate dinner together. Now we can’t even sit down and have a whole meal without the baby crying or interrupting it. We were a couple, but now it feels more like we’re separate people working different shifts of the same job.
When our baby wakes up in the middle of the night, my wife will bring the baby to bed because she’s too tired to stand up with it and try and rock it to sleep. So it’s like the baby has literally come between us in bed. Pretty obvious metaphor there.
The first time we did it after she gave birth, I was kind of weirded out by it at first. I was worried I’d hurt her, or it’d feel different, or… I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t know if things had changed down there. Of course it felt pretty much the same, so I was relieved, and we both enjoyed getting back into it. I’ve never been much of a boob guy, but since she’s breastfeeding, they’re obviously bigger, and honestly, it turns me on, so I’m more of a boob guy now!
One of the biggest differences is the mood during sex. We’re just always tired right now — we basically haven’t slept an old-fashioned night’s sleep since our daughter was born. I remember before getting pregnant, sometimes we’d come home after an evening out and just do it right there on the living room floor. Now when we do it, it feels like we’re squeezing it in and tiptoeing around while the baby is napping. I mean, it’s still good, it just doesn’t have the same romantic, careless feeling that sex sometimes used to have for us.
In particular, I’m dreading having the baby wake up while we’re doing it. It hasn’t happened yet, but my friends with babies tell me it will at some point. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of a big city, and so she’s bound to wake up, either from us having sex, or a car alarm or a dog barking, or our neighbors’ loud music. Anyway, that’s not gonna be fun — from the high of sex to being interrupted by a baby crying sounds like a huge downer.
It’s nice to be having sex again, but my wife wants it less often than before because she’s so tired and overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong — I totally understand, and I never complain about it to her. I try to be as understanding and accommodating as possible while our lives are upside-down. My friends say that will change eventually anyway — I hope it does. I miss the old sex we used to have, but of course being a dad is also pretty awesome. I believe we’ll get back some of our old routine eventually, little by little.
Rob, Seven Years After Childbirth
I had no idea how different those first few years would be after your kid is born. No one ever prepared me for it, and it’s not something guys usually talk about — at least the guys I know. What I remember most about those early years was that all the love and attention my wife had always given me was now directed, like a force field, at our new baby. She used to practically smother me with it, and then, post-child, it completely disappeared and got refocused on our baby.
I wasn’t at all jealous of my kid, by the way. I felt the same way about my son as my wife did, and looking back, maybe I did the same thing to her that she did to me. All that attention that a baby — and then a toddler — demands is attention you’re not giving to your husband or wife, and there wasn’t much sex for a couple years, to be honest.
There’s just so much tension and frayed nerves with a baby in the house. There’s sleep deprivation, arguing over parental duties and just the stress and uncertainty of not knowing what the fuck you’re supposed to be doing as a parent. But there’s also a lot of blowing off steam at each other — your baby can be really frustrating. So without realizing it, you and your wife take out all your frustration on each other instead. That’s not a great backdrop for romance or hot sex.
Eventually, though, as we slowly started getting our lives back — which, by the way, isn’t your old life, it’s just a bit more bonus time to yourself in your current life — you find each other again. After all, you live together, you share a bed, you see each other naked. And your wife turns into a hot mom!
But there was something else, at least in our relationship. Or at least with me. I didn’t realize it before kids, but there was so much anxiety in my head about actually having kids. It was like one of those milestones that I knew was coming, and putting it off stressed me out. After kids were born, it freed me up. There was way less anxiety around sex — I dove right into it, and was completely different in bed. I think my wife wondered if I was having an affair! I wasn’t — I was just enjoying sex without pressure or expectation. Honestly I’m not sure what it was that was holding me back before children. Maybe it was just maturity. Maybe I simply took sex for granted before kids, whereas after kids you seek the opportunities and make the most of them. I don’t know, but my wife really enjoys the post-baby version of me in bed.
And the sex keeps getting better — without baby monitors we have to listen to, and when you’re getting more sleep, and when your children reach an age where they aren’t as needy, and are better behaved and don’t drive you crazy, you and your wife find more time for each other. You can get a babysitter and go out and do stuff in the evenings, with actual adult clothes on instead of sweatpants or pajamas. You glance at her in your social circle crowd and see her not as a mom, but as the hot one in the group.
Adult sex, to me, is the best ever, even with someone you’ve had sex with for many years already. You’re obviously already close, and you love each other. You each know what turns each other on — which is great — but it also takes the pressure off. There’s no performance, it’s just mutual pleasure.
I obviously understand that not every couple is this way. You’ve gotta click with each other. It ends in the bedroom, but it starts with everything else: The things you talk about, how you behave to each other, how you resolve arguments, how generous you are. Just from what I’ve seen, when couples get married — and then again when they have kids — maybe half of them grow closer, and the other half seem to live these lives of stress and resentment, and they keep score on everything. Maybe a few of those couples that constantly fight also have hot, passionate sex — and that’s cool, each relationship works in different ways — but I suspect that most of them don’t.
Alan, 23 Years After Childbirth
Basically, after you have a kid, the woman has no interest in you at all. So I think every man is left wondering, “What’s in this for me?” And the answer is, you’re out of luck — at least for a while.
Nothing improved sex-wise until our kid was about four years old. I’ve long felt that it’s right around four years old that the kid is kind of able to entertain themselves. It might be younger now, because we didn’t have screens all the time that they could be entertained by. When you didn’t have to be in the same room with them, or supervising them as closely, everything starts to change in the whole relationship. I think, when the child begins to achieve some sort of separation from the mother, the mother looks again for her identity as a woman.
Then, if all things are going right, a sort of new romance is available. You often see people have a few kids down the line for this reason, because relationships go in cycles and adults go in cycles. Frankly, when kids are young, they require so much attention that it’s not conducive to being able to do the subtle dance of relationships. That takes some of the magic out of the romance, too.
One of the most important things is, you have to learn to trust a babysitter who can sit with your kids, or invest in a nanny. It might enable that phase where there’s that feeling of separation for all of you. Sometimes we’d have a babysitter over, and my wife and I would just go in our bedroom.
Nothing stays the same, everything evolves, and things go in cycles. For couples that are together a long time, traditionally there are some good years and there are some bad years. But if you’re well-suited for each other, then you stay together. What it all comes down to for me is, childbirth is like flipping the whole relationship upside-down. When you have a kid, the man is there to serve and protect and provide: “I serve at the will of the queen.”
There’s no way around it, and so, as a man, you have to learn to suck it up.