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pregnancy weight gain, sex & fear (Anonymous)

February 23, 2010

I found your site because I am 30 weeks pregnant and shocked that I am having such a hard time adjusting to my changing body.

I am 31 years old and this is my first pregnancy. My partner and I decided this July that we would stop using birth control. We were so in love and both felt like we couldn’t hold it back anymore. I think we both sensed the lifeforce of this baby straining at the gates we had placed up, desperate to burst through. Although we had only been together for 2 years in total with just over a year of living together at the time, neither of us had the strength or desire to resist this force any longer. Two weeks later we were pregnant! We were shocked and proud that it happened so quickly but mostly we felt really blessed. Although in some ways it would have been “easier” to have had a few months of trying-to-get-pregnant limbo to integrate the idea of a baby on the way and absorb the seriousness of what we were doing, I am well aware of how blessed we are to have had such an easy time conceiving this little being.

I have been really lucky to have had a seamless pregnancy. I was a little tired and a little nauseous initially, but it completely vanished at about 9 weeks, and then we heard the little heartbeat loud and strong at 10 weeks, which was a tremendous relief as I was really conscious of the possibilty of miscarriage. Otherwise my energy has been good and I am feeling strong and healthy. My uterus got really big really quickly–so much so that everyone was fussing about twins for ages. But then the pace of growth got on track, and tests showed that there was only one healthy baby. I have continued to grow at a nice steady pace, take my vitamins, and rub my belly with oils but mostly I have just felt like a completely normal person.

The worst part of this pregnancy has been what it has done to our sex life. We used to have a frequent, effortless and pleasurable sex life–but even more importantly, I used to feel that my partner truly
desired me. He would spend time on my body when we had sex, and demonstrate his attraction to me often–with deep kisses or crude comments or grabs at my body that I would chide him for but that also
delighted me. His desire for me delighted me.

Since I’ve been pregnant, the most frequently we have had sex is probably every 10 days and it has been as long as 3 weeks. Most of the times we do have sex it ends up feeling really unsatisfying as I feel like he is only doing it to please me as he knows how upset I am by this, and not out of his own desire. But even worse, his demonstrations of attraction and lust in our day-to-day interactions have vanished. He is still very loving and attentive to me, we have plenty of cuddles on the couch or in bed, and we easily tell each
other that we love each other as many as 20 times a day. We have more love between us than ever before, but the loss of the lust and sex has been a huge source of sadness and depression for me.

We have talked about this many times. He always says that he is still attracted to me, but I don’t believe it because I don’t see him acting on it. He also says that he is having a hard time wrapping his head around how much he loves me with a desire to have sex with me–as though sex is something dirty or negative that will tarnish me. To some extent, I am sympathetic to his own process of adjustment as our relationship changes as we become parents together, but I also want him to just grow up and realize that sex is normal and healthy and something two healthy adults that love each other can share. I wish it was as important to him as it is to me, and I wish he understood how much fear this gives me about the future of our relationship. I think sex and attraction are the glue of a relationship, and it absolutely terrifies me that we have lost it so soon—especially as we embark on this new challenge of parenting when we are going to need that glue more than ever. It just breaks my heart when I read women saying that their husbands “can’t keep their hands off them.” I so wish I had that.

This also makes me wish that we had waited longer in our relationship before having a baby. Even though we still love each other deeply, I feel very vulnerable in this relationship knowing that he isn’t attracted to me anymore. I wish we’d had more time with my old body and our old sex life to build a deeper foundation. I also wish there had been more time for him to really get to know and love me for all the non-bodily things about my personality and soul because I realize now that those things are what I really have to sustain his attention with. I know the true reasons he is with me are indeed all those non-bodily things, but I still feel so vulnerable. I can’t help but think that another year or two to enjoy and develop what we had might
have been better.

I am now 30 weeks pregnant. I have this gorgeous big belly that I astounds both of us. My breasts are huge and I know many men would be thrilled with them. These are both changes that I expected, and I
suppose that are socially sanctioned- even supermodels get a big belly & boobs. But lately I have started gaining weight on the rest of my body and noticing horrible new developments like cellulite, plus I have gained nearly 30 lbs already– and I am really struggling with this. Even though I am a midwife and deal with pregnancy every day, I honestly and sincerely never expected that I would gain excessively, or in places other than my belly & boobs. This scares me with an intensity that shocks me.

Obviously my insecurity about my partner’s attraction to me is probably a huge reason for why I am having a hard time integrating this. At this point, I have pretty much given up on forcing the sex issue as there is certainly nothing less attractive than someone demanding you find them attractive. But I feel like my hopes that he will be attracted to me again after the baby is born are dwindling with each pound and each patch of cellulite. I desperately want my man to be attracted to me again.

As well, I know that excessive weight gain is associated with all sorts of obstetrical complications that I really want to avoid both for myself and obviously for my baby, and that might prevent me from having the homebirth I have dreamed about since I was a teenager. I am mature enough to realize that if my dream homebirth doesn’t happen, then I am still blessed a million-fold to be having a beautiful baby with a man that loves me and is committed to me, but I can’t shake the sense of obstetrical doom-and-gloom that I sense as I see my legs ballooning so early on.

And the worst part is that I don’t know what I could possibly do to stop this weight gain from continuing. I eat well, have cut out sugar, walk an hour at a fast pace most days, and do yoga a couple times a week. I also try to swim a few times a week. This all feels 100% intuitively right to me–hitting the gym just doesn’t jive with my sense of what my body needs right now. So short of completely abandoning my intuition about how to take care of myself, there isn’t any room to “give” for me to slow this weight gain down. So I assume
my only choice is to just stand back and trust that my body knows what it is doing (and avoid looking at my ass in the mirror at all costs?). But how do I deal with the thoughts of panic I have when I see my
naked body? How do I deal with the thoughts about restricting my eating when I plainly know this is unhealthy and damaging to my baby? How do I accept my body and even better–learn to find the beauty in
the changes? I have been so lucky to have been blessed with a healthy body image, natural enjoyment of healthy food and exercise, and a metabolism that has let me pretty much eat whatever I want whenever I
want for my entire life up to this point. I know that most women have had to grapple with these exact questions long before they reach their 30s, and may have some of the answers before finding themselves
floored by these thoughts in the middle of their first pregnancy. But this is incredibly new territory for me and it makes me feel awful.

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16 Responses to “pregnancy weight gain, sex & fear (Anonymous)”

  1. Amy Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 9:43 am

    First of all, as a woman with a stronger libido than her husband, I think I understand something of your sadness and insecurity. But please allow me to lovingly disagree with your statement that sex and attraction are the glue of a relationship. If that were the case, every relationship would be doomed to fail because almost no relationship in the world (with maybe a very very few exceptions) are able to maintain that level of sexuality. Love, respect, self-sacrifice for the sake of the other – THESE are the glue of a solid relationship. I am not saying sex is unimportant. And I am not minimizing the pain of not being on the same page sexually with your partner – I know it can be VERY VERY HARD, and I am sorry that this is happening for you. I just encourage you to be patient through what is most likely a season and not a permanent change. Your partner is most likely telling you the truth, he does love you and is attracted to you but is seeing you in a whole new light – I think it can be hard for a man to integrate love, sex, motherhood and the desire to protect and provide all in one! Take this opportunity to explore other sides of your relationship, and to appreciate your body as an amazing source of creation and nourishment. Blessings!

  2. vsmama Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Thanks you for your entry. My husband and I had a great sex life as well before baby…most times we couldn’t make it out of the bed but for food and water lol. And so after I got pregnant, when my belly grew, our sex life stalled and I was still wanting it. I understand more now that he grew into this protective mode for his baby and mentally being close to me sexually as well as physically near baby was almost impossible for him to get through. He said he felt he was going to hurt baby. His love changed while I was pregnant, he still saw me as sexy but he was always on guard to protect me and his growing child. Now after our son is born he won’t leave me alone lol. And now I’m the one who has to slow him down because I’m constantly thinking of baby. Lol but everything is back to normal with how we feel now we just have to find the time lol.

  3. Angele Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Hun, I dont think it has anything to do with your body changing. Many men feel scared or worried about the baby when their partners are pregnant! Please believe him when he says he is still attracted to you! Being pregnant is not easy and I know it must be difficult feeling as though he is pulling way! Hang in there, it will get better! xoxo

  4. Anon Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 11:22 am

    My husband reacted the same way to me during my first pregnancy. After I had the baby and healed from my c-section, things returned to normal. He finally admitted to me that he was afraid of hurting the baby (which will not happen) and that he felt funny having sex with the baby right there. Hang in there…it sounds like your man really loves you!

  5. Bryana Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I feel horrible that you are in this mental stage right now in your pregnancy. I feel most terrible because I remember being there in my first pregnancy, almost to the T. Your husband, he loves you and your body, and everything your body is doing to grow your beautiful baby. My husband and I had an amazinf relationship sexually, much like you and your husband, that is until I fell pregnant with our, now 4 year old, son. It seemed it nearly fell away. We made love seldomly, and it felt asthough we were only have sex because it felt like we had to. I couln’t believe what my body had morphed into. It was a body I never expected nor wanted. With my son, I gained over 60lbs. Once our son was born tho, within 3 weeks, it seemed our lust and love for one another came back with vengance. Once the Doctor gave the go ahead to begin our sex life again, it was non stop. He would spend hours looking at my body and “worshipping” it. He loved the changes and the marks of being the mother to his child.
    When we fell pregnant again in October of 2008 I feared that we would fall into our rut again, much like it did with our son. Luckily I was wrong. Our sex life was never better and he loved and adored the changes taking place. Luckily for me, I only gained 29lbs while pregnant with our daughter. I was happy with my body, loved feeling my body and admiring what it was doing. Now our daughter is 8 months old and our life is nothing less than amazing.
    I hope and pray that you and your husband pull through this. I have no doubts that you will, your relstionship sounds amazing and the ideal everyone wishes for. I hope for the best with your dreams of a home-birth. Keep us updated and remember that what your body is doing is nothing short of a miracle :)

  6. Diane Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I have a week old son. I haven’t had sex with my husband in months. I’m not sure how many. The last time we did have sex we broke the bed and ended up on the floor. When I asked my husband why he never wanted sex he told me he didn’t want to hurt the baby. I didn’t mind because I felt so big, awkward and miserable the last months of my pregnancy that my libido plummeted. I ended up having an emergency c-section so my vagina feels fine. My stomach feels terrible though and I’m bleeding a good deal. Sex is pretty far from my mind. There is lust returning to my husbands eyes, however even though I’m leaking milk and still look 6 months preggo.

  7. Ann Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Please know that a lot of men are scared of hurting the baby even though they may never admit it but many do feel this way. I am also 24 weeks pregnant today and my husband and I have recently really slowed down having sex now that he feels movement I think it really freaks him out. A lot of these feelings about our bodies I believe is completely normal, this is now my second pregnancy and I have come to terms knowing that my body will gain weight to support the life inside of me after emotionally going through my body’s changes with my first baby. Our bodies will naturally hold and store every calorie to care for the baby as we need more of our “fat” to support breastfeeding after the baby is born. With breastfeeding it really does help burn the extra fat off as it is being used for the reason why we gained the weight to produce milk full of calories and fat to give to our babies. Your body will return back to normal especially if you are caring for it properly by eating healthily and exercising those are key to getting your figure back. Please do not be so hard on yourself your husband’s feelings of wanting to be intimate will return soon after the birth of your goregous baby! Take care and Congrats on your little one :)

  8. Stacy Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I haven’t read the other comments, so I am going to say something that may have already been said…

    My experience, being married to a man for 7 years and together longer, and through multiple pregnancies and birth, having babies will change the relationship. Time will change the relationship. But it truly is for the better. It may not ALWAYS incorporate the “child-like lust” that once was, but it can grow to be something much more profound. It may not seem like it is as fulfilling, but the danger is longing for something that was. As we grow older, our bodies change, and our circumstances change, our relationships change, we even seem to change, but the reality is, change is the only constant. You must ride with it and enjoy the new intimacy, wherever you can find it. I am sure your husband is madly, deeply in love with you and your body and your baby. And I know you must be in love with him… not in the way in which you go about being intimate. Discover new plateaus.

    Stacy
    Mama to 6 beautiful children
    Successful Homebirth after 5 Csections
    Educated, homeschooling, dancing, singing, guitar playing, whiskey drinking, book reading, park playing, house cleaning, travel freak.

  9. TracyKM Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    I also quickly gained weight in my pregnancies, but then it slowed WAY down. In one pregnancy, I put on only 12lb in the last trimester, having put on 15lb in the first 20 weeks alone! None of my pregnancy weight gains went according to the book but all my births were uncomplicated and great!

  10. I-dra Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    You’re a midwife. You know that 30 lbs in 30 weeks is not “excessive” weight gain. You still have that miracle metabolism, but you’re growing a whole human being right now! It’s easy to have a healthy body image when you’re thin & attractive, but it’s being put to the test right now. Apply that positive self-image to the body you have now & find the parts that you love & focus on those. I also disagree that sex is the glue of a relationship. Two years sounds like plenty of time to bond & grow together outside of just having sex. It sounds like you might be getting the cold feet that many (most?) first-time mothers experience. These coming 10 weeks will be a great opportunity for you to spend time just the two of you. Because everyone here knows that’s not happening again for awhile!

  11. kat Says:
    February 23rd, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    What you and your husband had is impossible to lose. It sounds like the love you have for eachother reaches deeper than just sex but that was the best way you could express it to eachother. So having said that, you will get your sexy back 10 fold after this baby is born. Just seeing the beauty that you 2 have created with your love will bring back that feeling before you know it. Pregnancy is an awkward time! (I am currently 24 weeks with #3 so I know!) In these months of pregnancy, even the most sexual woman can feel like crap. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Good luck and God bless! Your relationship will be even better than before…

  12. Sarah Says:
    February 24th, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I think that toward the end of every woman’s pregnancy, we get this feeling of being unattractive, huge (“I look like a whale!”), etc. So perhaps that’s playing into your perceptions of how you feel your partner is feeling toward you. And perhaps sex isn’t as comfortable or easy while you’re pregnant. I’m sure that you will find that sex will get back on track within a few months of your child’s birth. I know that feels like a while, but really in the broad scheme of things and the years you’ll spend with him, you’ll find that it’s really just a blip in your lives. Intimacy can happen in many more ways than just sexual. Believe me, my birth control has made my sexual appetite take a dive for the past three years. But my husband and I still spend intimate moments together — when we can. It’s not easy with a curious toddler! Hang in there. You’re almost there! Follow life where it leads. Its ups and downs are what it’s all about.

  13. Shanyn Says:
    February 25th, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Trust. Trust that your body is doing everything it needs to do to grow and nourish this sweet babe in your belly. Trust the relationship you have built and continue to build every day with the father of your child and man of your heart. Trust that intimacy comes in so many more ways than lust. Trust that life will once again even out into a new normal. Trust that you are on the journey of a lifetime.

    The best we can do is be utterly present in every single moment and then ante up the courage to be authentic in those moments.

    Hang in there mama, keep talking, keep growing and keep living…Sending you love and light…

  14. Lauren Says:
    March 6th, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    My advice would be to seek a counselor that you like who you can talk with and plone for your husband if he’s willing. You both have things I’m sure you want to work through. And if being 11 weeks pp myself has taught me anything, it two things: what you two are going through is normal and okay, and that you won’t have the energy to work on your marriage without help. Which is okay too. :)

  15. Alex Says:
    March 7th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    I’m not seeking advice–i do know what is right and what is wrong in this case–but i thought i might be able to relate.

    i’m pregnant. i haven’t started showing yet, but i am… and though i was so incredible happy and excited at first, i’m so terrified now. i have an eating disorder. I’ve been recovering for nearly a year, but this scares the living daylights out of me! i know i have to keep eating, for me and baby, but it’s a scary concept. especially to hear there is no stopping it.

    i’m also scared to adapt to that “after” phase when it’s you, partner, and baby. the “you and partner” time is over… time to be serious. i’m nineteen. i love my soon-to-be husband–I’m absolutely crazy about him, and i’m elated to be having his child, but i’m so afraid we didn’t get enough “us” time too.

    I’m sorry i’m not advice or anything, but i thought it might be helpful to know you’re not alone.

    Thanks so much for reading my response,
    Alex.

  16. Michelle S Says:
    July 1st, 2013 at 9:21 am

    I had a talk with my husband about this after expressing your same worries. He flatout said it felt like there was a kid in the room, which obviously ruins the mood, & it got to a point where he was afraid he’d hurt the baby. Perhaps your husband has these senses but isn’t able to articulate them yet. Furthermore, despite the ease of pregnancy I experienced, I had to come to terms with the impact that hormones played on my emotions (while naturally grieving for the loss of my Size 2 body). Now at 38 weeks pregnant, I don’t know how long it will take for us to get that hot passion back, or if we’ll need therapy (lol), but I am confident that our love will bring us back to what we had eventually & may be even more amazing after such a journey & abstinence. Good luck!

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