Three’s a crowd a.k.a sex and the co-sleeping parent

co-sleeping positionsThere were three in the bed and the little one said, “roll over, roll over.” So they all rolled over and Daddy fell out…went to the spare room and there he has slept for the past year!

Before Little Chop was born, I never really considered the effect her arrival would have on my relationship and how it would change. I knew that it would change, how could it not? A newborn demands your love and attention above everything and everyone including your partner, so you inevitably compromise and sacrifice things you enjoyed in your childless life to put your baby first – things like socialising, sleep and sex.

After giving birth, sex was the last thing on my mind. Having delivered a 4kg baby aided by an episiotomy and forceps I was quite content to never have sex again. Then my milk came in and the early challenges of breastfeeding took their toll. Sleep deprived with cracked nipples and a throbbing episiotomy scar, I waded zombified through those early weeks, often sobbing while breastfeeding with the pain that radiated from one end of my body to the other. My partner who was also sleep deprived and overwhelmed by our new arrival was patient and equally disinterested in sex…for a while at least.

Then my six week post-partum check-up rolled around and my partner started to get interested. Really interested. I was still in a fair amount of pain and didn’t feel physically or emotionally ready but I thought I should give it a go for my partner’s sake and to see how things were healing down there. Let’s just say that it didn’t go too well. I cried. It was painful and I was so anxious and self-concious about my squishy post-baby body that I felt tense and awkward. I told my partner I didn’t want to try again for a while and that was that.

By the three month mark, my episiotomy had healed and I was feeling more confident having lost most of my baby weight – I was ready. Within a few weeks, our sex life was almost back to normal, less frequent, but consistent. A couple of months later Winter rolled around and I started feeding Little Chop in bed overnight rather than braving the cold lounge room. She self-weaned from her dummy and no longer wanted to be swaddled. She would only sleep in my arms or by my side. We became co-sleepers. And so, my partner was sent to the spare room where he has remained for the past year. As my Doctor said, “Oh Laura, that’s no good for romance.” Mmm, you don’t say…

I had wondered about the sex lives of co-sleepers before I became one. I knew co-sleepers with more than one child so obviously they had managed to find a time and place to do the deed. If you’re curious, like I was, allow me to enlighten you. It’s tricky. You either need to plan ahead or be extremely spontaneous. It might be a nap time quickie or something you ‘book in’ for the evening instead of watching Masterchef. Occasionally, you’ll be interrupted when your child wakes unexpectedly and you’ll have to abandon the act because they don’t know how to self-settle. And, unless you have a spare room, it probably won’t be in bed because that space now belongs to your child. So there, now you know.

What my Doctor said is true, unfortunately. Co-sleeping is no good for romance. When you spend about twenty hours of the day with your child you tend to crave and relish in your alone time. Well, I do anyway. Nap time and evenings are the only times of the day I get to myself and sometimes I am reluctant to give that up, even for my partner. Maybe that’s selfish but it’s what I need to preserve my sanity. Sometimes I feel like I am stretched very thin and I don’t have enough time and energy to meet everyones needs. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a co-sleeper. I do miss the intimacy and comfort of sharing a bed with my partner and I know he misses it too. But, would I rather get up to settle my daughter multiple times each night? Or, let her cry herself to sleep? No. It is what it is and it won’t be forever so for now I’ll take my daughter’s warm sleepy cuddles over a torrid sex life and that’s fine by me.

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6 thoughts on “Three’s a crowd a.k.a sex and the co-sleeping parent

  1. We made the switch from full time co-sleeping to “at-least-start-out-in-the-crib” sleeping when Sam was a few months old. His crib was and is in our room. He still (at 22 months) gets in bed with us to nurse between 4-5am most mornings. Is your bed not big enough for all three of you, or he just can’t sleep through her noises?
    Our sex life is definitely different than it was pre-Samuel, and a lot of weeks it’s just on the weekend because of hubby’s work schedule, but we work really hard to keep things hot because sex is such an important part of the relationship. 🙂

    • I love hearing about other families sleep arrangements because they’re always unique like families themselves! Until recently we were putting Little Chop down to sleep in her cot and she was coming in with me when she woke during the night. This worked until her most recent bout of teething which has resulted in some unsettled and vommity evenings so she’s back in with me at the moment. She moves around a lot in her sleep which kept Hubby awake and I’ve always felt that she was safer and less likely to be smothered if it was just her and me. We are moving house soon and I’m going to try a new approach so We’ll see how it goes!
      Also you are right – sex is extremely important in a relationship and I often don’t give it enough attention!

      • Poor thing! Why does stuff like that always happen in the middle of the night?! 🙄
        My husband was getting kicked in the face for a time, around Sam’s first birthday, but he (Sam) has somehow calmed down and doesn’t move all about anymore! 🙂
        I hope the move goes well!

  2. Ooooooo so tricky. We don’t co-sleep and I don’t have a partner so I’m not much help I’m afraid but I wanted to leave a message just for support. Good luck! Maybe the move will help. 🙂

    • Thanks. I’m going to try to avoid co-sleeping with the next one now that I know a bit more about how babies learn to self-settle. Hoping a new environment will help me change our current sleep arrangement!

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