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How my lack of sex drive was linked with Postnatal Depression

So your vagina is ruined and your bum is still throbbing and ten days after giving birth your partner asks, “can I have a blow job?” What is your first answer? How polite can you be? Do you say, “I’m not really in the mood sweetheart”, or do you say “when was the last time you squeezed a watermelon out of your bell end, you piece of sh*t?”

Now, I know that every woman is different and hormones affect us all in weird and not-so-wonderful ways, so I can only vouch for myself here, but my lack of sex drive was just the tip of the iceberg in what has been a very long journey to self recovery.  This is a long story, but please stay with me because my experiences may help you as a mama.

I’ll start from the beginning…

About 45 minutes after giving birth I decided to go and have a shower and rinse away the blood, sweat and tears. When I stood up from the bed I had spent the last 12 hours in, I realised the extent of what had just happened to my body. Ciaran and I looked at the pool of blood on the bed, then looked at each other and simultaneously said, “what the F*CK!”. It was at that precise moment that I thought, “I am NEVER having sex again!”

I bled for 4 weeks after Alfie was born and I took that time to allow my body heal and my uterus to contract back down. At no point during that period did I ever get any urges to pounce on Ciaran, but it was still early days and completely reasonable. By week six post-baby Ciaran’s patience was wearing thin – I hadn’t even looked at his penis since I was about 35 weeks pregnant and his balls were about to burst!

Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of women that got back on the saddle weeks after giving birth so if you’re of them I take my hat off to you. Please share this sorcery with me, because it took me eight months to even want to look at a penis again. EIGHT F*CKING MONTHS.

The First Time…

Anyway, 6 weeks after giving birth and 8 weeks since the last time we had sex, I decided to open the gates to my (still healing) lady garden. Welllllll. BIGGEST mistake of my life. The grazes on my flaps that I thought had healed felt like they were being scraped open with a hot steak knife! No word of a lie, I cried. It felt like the burning sensation of a human skull tearing through my vagina all over again.

It was safe to say it lasted all of thirty seconds and neither myself or Ciaran “finished” – if you catch my drift. In fact, we barely even started. The he asked the question, “can you just give me a BJ instead?” to which I replied “can you F*CK”.

I was so traumatised that we didn’t even try to have sex again for another six weeks! Six weeks of having an impatient, raging erection sticking in my back every night.

According to Ciaran, “It was like I was a 12 year old boy who’d just hit puberty, and all I could think about was sex. I looked at vegetables and thought about sex. I’d look at an old woman in the street and think about sex. It was bloody embarrassing, like why the hell am I thinking about sex you’re 50!” (I apologise to any women over 50 on his behalf, you’re not that old!) He’s not over exaggerating either, if the wind changed slightly he got an awkward boners!

Attempt number two…

Even though I still wasn’t up to it, I knew that six weeks was a longgggg time without any kind of sexual activity. So we tried again. To put it into perspective how long it had actually been, Alfie was born in September and we had only had sex once (for thirty seconds) between then and Christmas! So yeah, I felt duty bound as a girlfriend to at least give his penis the time of day.

Second attempt wasn’t as horrific as the second time. I wasn’t really in the mood at first but once things had hotted up a bit I felt comfortable and actually quite enjoyed it, but there still wasn’t something right.

Something wasn’t right

I couldn’t put my finger on why my sex drive had taken a total nose dive. Why didn’t I want to have sex? Was I blaming Ciaran for what happened to my vagina (yes, kind of)? Did I still find him attractive? Did I still find myself attractive? So many questions were running through my head and the more I asked myself ‘why?’, the more I drove myself insane.

Not only did my sex drive plummet, so did my self confidence. My body wasn’t the same anymore and I hated it. I might have escaped the typical tummy stretch marks during pregnancy, but I had made up for it on my legs. You see, when I gain weight it all goes to my legs and bum. So although my stomach ‘snapped back’, I had hideous stretch marks on my inner thighs – one of the most intimate parts of a woman’s body.

Was it this that subconsciously stopped me wanting to have sex, or was there more to it that that?

Relationship taking a turn for the worse…

On social media you only see what people want you to see – the happy and positive aspects of your life. So naturally everyone outside of my close social circle assumed that my life was all sunshine and rainbows, but behind closed doors I was losing the person I was, and felt like I had no identity anymore. My days consisted of tears, tantrums (me and Alfie) and constant bickering between me and Ciaran.

We kept arguments to text messages and bedtime when Alfie was asleep. Sometimes they’d be triggered by a sly did at each other over silly things like housework, and sometimes they would just take a downwards spiral and become personal.

“Don’t even look at me. Don’t kiss me, don’t touch me, just leave me alone” is how I would normally end the argument and then take myself to bed in a huff and cry. Now I know that everyone has their arguments, but surely these kind of rows shouldn’t be a nightly occurrence?

We were no longer intimate and I felt like I was living with my friend who I happened to share a child with… Nothing more, nothing less. But what I couldn’t get my head around is why four months after giving birth, I STILL wasn’t interested in sex.

I tried everything in my power to get my sex drive back on my own. I even watched porn to see if it would turn me on. NOTHING. Not even so much as a fanny flutter. Dry as a bone. What the f*ck is going on?!

A trip to the doctors

After four months I decided to chat to my closest friends and my mum about what was going on and how I was feeling. Everytime I spoke about it I cried. Enough was enough, I felt miserable almost every day. I didn’t want sex, I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t even want to kiss Ciaran.

I specifically asked for a female doctor when making the appointment. I didn’t want to tell another man about my issues, I was embarrassed and ashamed. As I sat in front of the doctor and started to tell her what was happening I broke down.

“What is wrong with me? Please do something. Give me something that is going to help!” I’m not sure what I was really expecting from her to be honest. “Give a horny pill! F*CK it give me Viagra, I’ll take whatever you’ve got.”

After asking a series of questions, she assured me that I was totally normal and I wasn’t some sort of dried up old psychopath. It became apparent that the issue wasn’t just the lack of libido, but that my mood in general was low and that it would have a knock on effect on my sex drive. Not wanting sex was just the tip of the iceberg. Then she told me something that I wasn’t prepared for.

“You have Postnatal Depression.” I told her I wasn’t depressed and that she had got it wrong. She said it was just mild depression and I had already taken the first step in helping myself already by coming to the doctors. 2015-kidspot-postnataldepression-1000-new-1-660x660-jpg-20160118143842.jpg-q75,dx720y-u0r1g0,c--.jpg

“No, no, no. I’m not depressed, I’m just grumpy and don’t want to have sex anymore.”

I was in denial. I refused to take the anti-depressants because I was ashamed to be associated with the stigma attached to them. I lied to my family about taking them because I just wanted to feel ‘normal’. I decided that I would do everything in my power to avoid having to take these tablets, because I was warned that once I’d started I wasn’t allowed to stop until I’d taken them for six months. Even with the tablets I ran the risk of getting worse to start with, and that terrified me.

When I got home I did my research, and realised that all of the signs were there but I had never spotted them. I was tired and wanted to sleep all the time, but I just put that down to being a new mum. I was anxious over silly things, like making phone calls. My self esteem had vanished, and so had my appetite. The only symptom I’d noticed was the loss of interest in sex because of the amount of strain it put on my relationship.

So what did I do?

Even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking anti-depressants, my depression was mild and I decided to use the “self-help” method instead. I took things one step at a time and invested a lot of time in myself. If I didn’t love myself first then how could anyone else? Or at least that’s what I thought.

Health and fitness

I threw myself into the gym and healthy eating. Exercise releases happy endorphins and chemicals into your brain, making you feel better about yourself. I thrived off that feeling after a workout and loved the burning sensation of sore muscles during the days after exercise. I walked a lot too, even if I didn’t need to go anywhere – I just had to get out of the house for a couple of hours a day. Walking gave me time to think and reflect. It meant that for those couple of hours out in the fresh air, I wasn’t thinking about the mountain of ironing hiding in the spare room, or the fact that I was so skint I couldn’t afford to put petrol in the car.

Taking pride in my appearance

I started to take more pride in my appearance instead of thinking “who would find a washed up whale of a mother attractive anyway?” I actually started shaving my legs again and felt like a woman on a mission… I know, tragic. I washed my hair more than twice a week, and invested in some new clothes (I was still wearing maternity leggings at 4 months post baby. I was skint okayyyyy? The struggle is real). I started wearing makeup everytime I left the house, even if I was just going on one of my walks.

Talking about it

I started speaking openly and honestly about what I was going through, and speaking to people in the same situation as me. Eventually it helped and I realised that I’m not alone!

My health visitor, Louise, who is just amazing, referred me to Talking Changes who were a great help. She also visited me every week and checked in with me to see how I was feeling. She’s been a huge help in my recovery.

Investing time in each other

It occurred to me that Ciaran and I didn’t have fun anymore. We felt like an old married couple stuck in a rut. Just because we had a baby didn’t mean we couldn’t still have fun! We invested more time into each other. We would kiss and cuddle on a night instead of turning our backs to each other and falling asleep without uttering a word. We asked each other about how our days had been, and went on ‘date night’ once a month. Date night didn’t have to be anything flash, after all we were on the bones of our arses skint – so sometimes we would just rent a movie or cook for one another.

Going back to work

I think part of my frustration was boredom. I was bored of being stuck in the house. I was bored of only being known as ‘Alfie’s Mum’. I was bored of no longer having my own identity. The only solution for curing my boredom was to go back to work.

I love Alfie to pieces, but there are only so many consecutive days you can watch Peppa Pig without going insane.

Saying “I love you”

Even though we both already knew we loved each other, we didn’t say it anymore. After almost four years together I’d forgotten to remind Ciaran of how much I appreciated everything he does for me and Alfie, and how hard he works. And I couldn’t remember the last time I told him I love him. So I made a promise to tell him every single day, and he promised too.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes he gets on my tits and I want to strangle him, but it doesn’t mean I love him any less. (Jeeeeeeez this blog is deeper than I intended it to be)

Getting my sex drive back… Finally

Eight months post childbirth and I was finally starting to get my mojo back. After working at our relationship every single day, working on building my self confidence back up and going back to work, I’m finally starting to feel like me again. Of course I’ve grown up and changed because I’m now a mummy – which by the way is the best but hardest f*cking job in the world – but I’m getting back to who I used to be.

And best of all? I’m like a rampant rabbit (too much info I know. I seriously hope you’re not reading this Dad). I’m starting to come to terms with my stretch marks, and no longer have to have sex under the covers with the light off. Sometimes Ciaran has to turn me down. I’m like “come one, why don’t you want me?” and then I realise that that is exactly how he felt for the past eight months… Ooops.

The point I’m trying to make – and I know I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here – is that it doesn’t matter how low you’re feeling after having a baby, there is help out there. Postnatal depression isn’t something to be ashamed of, and I have only realised that now after coming out the other side. I’m stronger and more open minded about mental health than I have ever been before. I realised “sh*t, people DO understand what I’m going through, and I’m not on my own!”

There are times when I feel myself slipping, but then I remember how far I’ve come. Writing this post and starting this blog is part of my “self-help” method, by sharing my experiences with other mamas that may be going through the same thing as me. I remind myself that everyone has their bad days, and feeling low doesn’t make me any less of a mother or mean I love my baby any less. I remind myself that it’s okay not to be okay and I’m doing great.

If you’ve read this story until the end then thank you and I salute you!

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