Sex after Loss
This topic may be as taboo as infant loss itself but sex is a large part of life, especially when trying for and parenting a rainbow. Sex after children normally changes in a relationship but add on the aspect of loss and it takes on a whole new meaning.
My sex after loss began 11 weeks after we buried our first born son Ty, whom was stillborn at 37 weeks. My husband and I felt it was a good time emotionally for us to reconnect and with the go ahead from our doctor, it began. We knew we wanted to get pregnant again, that was a part of our plan. However, the part we didn’t plan was getting pregnant so quickly after Ty died. I was shocked, it was unreal. We had intended on waiting but apparently 11 weeks after we buried Ty seemed like the perfect time to someone else.
For the first 18 weeks our rainbow pregnancy was relatively easy, I however did not want to take any risks, especially knowing what other things could possibly go wrong, so we held off, no sex. Our plan was to wait until 24 weeks, the age of viability, but at 18 weeks we received our son Jacob’s fatal diagnosis. Sex was completely out of the question at that point. Not only were we on an emotional rollercoaster, we couldn’t risk anything happening to Jacob before we could give him as much time as possible to grow and “heal”. Thankfully, our doctor pretty much told us to “take it off the table” as I had a low lying placenta and due to no fluid, there were risks.
36 ½ weeks went by and Jacob blessed us with his presence for 2 ½ days. I had a c-section with Jacob so physically, my OB said anywhere from 6-8 weeks before we could start “getting to know each other” again. However, emotionally we were both suffering. Because we had become pregnant so quickly with Jacob, we both became afraid of sex, in a sense. We did not want any more children after Jacob died. I most certainly did not want to ever be pregnant again so knowing how easily it happened before really deterred us from getting “back on the table”. We talked about it a lot over the 9 months following Jacob’s death. I cannot be on hormonal birth control and even with the other options, neither of us felt it was safe enough. We postponed it as long as possible, until our hearts started to change.
10 months after Jacob died, we decided that we truly felt the strength to try once more. You all know what happens next. Sex was reintroduced into our relationship and right away, I became pregnant again. This pregnancy was very much planned, but I will be honest, I did not expect it to only take one try before we became pregnant.
And like before, I didn’t want to risk anything happening to the baby and our OB advised against sex once more while I was pregnant, so for 36 ½ weeks, I was just busy growing our rainbow. Sex was again “taken off the table”. We found many ways to remain intimate, we always have, there are far more ways to be intimate than just sex so we kept the fire alive in our own little ways.
Then Bee, our beautiful, miracle of a rainbow arrived. Thanks to her grand entrance, we were advised not to have sex for 3 months. Let me just say, her entrance was truly grand. But after 3 months it became something else, our excuse had vanished as I had healed and now there was something more that replaced it. I’m embarrassed to say how long it was until we had sex again after Bee, but I will say more than a year. However, it’s not because we didn’t want to, it’s not because we didn’t love each other it’s because I became petrified, I was terrified of getting pregnant again. My husband felt the same way, he too was scared to get pregnant again so we put things off. We always made an excuse, we never made the time and it just became a part of our relationship. We were still strong, we were still in love but we lacked sex.
Knowing how easily I became pregnant with all 3 of our children changed my view of sex. It made me fear it. Not only that, having a newborn/infant who does not sleep is exhausting. Loss or not, sex changes after you have children. It’s known, just ask any couple. Trying to find time for partners to enjoy the act of sex when there are children is like trying to find the missing laundry socks. You just don’t know where in the world they go. Never mind the possible interruptions of children, trying to make yourself feel sexy while wearing yoga pants and your hair in a pony because who knows when the last time you washed it was. The dynamics of sex change regardless of loss but add loss and it changes it more. It becomes more than just sex, it becomes the hopes and fear of a pregnancy. Whether a pregnancy is wanted or not, whether a pregnancy is even possible. You don’t just have sex to enjoy it, it becomes about creating life, about creating a future and when it fails time and time again, it hits you hard. It makes you feel less. Or, on the other hand, when you try and succeed the first time, it hits you hard too. You realize that now you have more fears, if the pregnancy will make it or not and will you finally be able to bring that rainbow home.
The joy, pleasure and excitement is taken out of sex when you experience loss. It truly takes on another meaning but fear not, the joy and excitement can return and I am happy to report, sex is now back in our lives. The fear is still there, we are preventing as much as possible but our hearts are in a place of acceptance, meaning if I did get pregnant, we would be okay. Right now it’s time to focus on making sex fun again because for 3 years, it was only about making a baby and that can get exhausting.