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Women today have a lot of societal expectations placed on us. We are supposed to be nurturing and kind. We should cook, clean, take care of our babies and also our partners. We should work, we should not work, we should do this, that and the other thing.

There are a lot of "shoulds." One "should" I think we're missing? A frank discussion about s-e-x after babies.

The transformation into 'mother' is a hard road that's for sure. A lot shifts and changes, and some things even go away completely. But being satisfied was not something I was willing to give up on.

In the early stages of new motherhood, I had to let go of certain things: showering regularly, talking on the phone, putting on deodorant and wearing two matching shoes (to name a few). But the more I found my footing as a mama, the better I got at prioritizing what I wanted to do with my time.

For me, reclaiming a sense of intimacy in my life was one of those things that I wanted to prioritize... like shaving my legs and getting some privacy when I use the bathroom.

My role as a mother has evolved over the course of my children's lives and thus so has my role as a woman. I have nourished small bodies from my breasts, spent sleepless nights awake with fussy tummies, and changed more poopy diapers than I would ever care to admit.

The responsibilities of motherhood are daunting. Babies are all consuming—especially in the beginning. I could barely find the energy to shovel food into my mouth let alone time to have sex with my husband. I was exhausted from the top of my oatmeal matted-hair, to the tips of my un-manicured toes.

It makes sense if you really think about: a new baby literally sucks the energy from your body.

But no matter the circumstances—I am still a woman. I have needs. And as much as I want to be the best mama out there, I know that to be truly whole—and therefore truly happy—I need to be a well-rounded person. And this means I need to feel satisfied in every avenue of my life.

Now let's be clear—sex is different for every woman. We all have different wants and different needs. It is perfectly fine to admit that there are days when all I want to do is to lock myself in the bedroom, get undressed, and fall asleep with a glass of wine in one hand and a book in the other.

There are days (so many days) that I look adoringly at my husband and think, This man is perfection. I think of how our couch is often where we spend evenings together after work, cuddled up close, discussing our day. It is a place we reconnect after hours spent apart.

There are some days (like today) that couch is littered with baby dolls. And Legos. There are neon pink dishes shoved behind the cushions and graham cracker crumbs filling up every crevice. Today, my couch is where I collapse in fatigue, yearning to close my eyes and end this day.

Like many, my small children rise with the sun. They clamber out of their beds and demand bananas and scrambled eggs. They need their teeth brushed, their clothes buttoned, and lunches made. All day long I am at the mercy of three needy, beautiful kids who rely on me to keep them alive. That, my friends, is a lot of work.

By the time my dashing husband arrives home from his own tenuous day of labor, my mood ranges from exasperated to borderline losing it. I have already spent all of my empathy on scraped knees. I am running on empty. It can sometimes take a conscious effort on my part to push all of my vexation aside and make room for my husband.

I distinctly remember turning to him after a particularly hard day and saying, "What I need from you right now is to not to talk to me. Sit silently through dinner and just let me be alone." It wasn't a proud moment for me. But it was what I needed.

Recognizing our needs is the first step to reclaiming what we want.

Not every night is successful. But that does not stop me—us—from trying. It doesn't stop me from wanting more, for craving the intimacy and connection that makes me feel like a woman. For me this it isn't about making sure that my sex box is metaphorically (and literally) checked—it is about allowing myself to be more than a "mom." To be a person, nay a woman, again.

I have given myself permission to want everything from life.

I want to be a good mom and a good wife. I want a successful, fulfilling career. And I want to have s-e-x after my b-a-b-i-e-s go to b-e-d.

Ladies, I just want it all.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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