The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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HE THINKS: “I’m afraid I’ll never have sex again.”
SHE THINKS: “I’m afraid I’ll never want to have sex again.”
“I’m definitely worried about sex,” says Frank Declerq, an editor in New York. “I know that when the baby comes, I won’t have time to address Jennie’s needs. She isn’t just going to bend over a couch—she’ll need to be seduced.” In her second trimester, Jennie has concerns of her own— different ones. “I’m fine feeling all wrapped up in being pregnant,” she says. “And I’m more concerned with how I’m going to handle being a mother than I am with sex. However, I do hope my libido comes back.”
THE THERAPIST SUGGESTS: Focus on intimacy, not sex. Frank can help his wife adjust to her physical changes by allowing her to enjoy lots of rest, long baths and cuddling. The time to reconnect sexually is when she feels as interested in receiving pleasure as she does in giving it. “Start by acknowledging that things have changed,” Brill says. “Frequency, times, places and ways to have sex will be restricted, but together you can find new ways of being intimate.”
HE THINKS: “I won’t have time for myself.”
SHE THINKS: “He’ll have to forget about ‘me time.’ ”
For Frank, lack of time ranks up there with lack of sex. “I wake up early in the morning to do things for me, whether it’s working on business plans or taking a run,” he says. “That will be history with a new baby. I’m not worried about going to bars with friends; I’m worried about not being able to do the extra things I need to do to get ahead.” Jennie wants him to change his priorities. “I don’t want him disappearing,” she says. “Having a baby is going to be a lot of work, particularly in the beginning. He’ll just have to learn how to be more efficient.”
THE THERAPIST SUGGESTS: Can you say multitask? It is possible to be more productive in less time. “So maybe when Frank has baby-induced insomnia at 3 a.m., he can run on the treadmill and think about ideas for work,” Brill says. All kidding aside, Jennie should help her husband think of new parenthood as a precious, once-in-a-lifetime experience that goes quickly. “She needs to share with him the peaceful, loving moments with the baby, not just hand off a screeching infant when Frank walks in the door,” Brill says.
HE THINKS: “I don’t see how I can help with a newborn.”
SHE THINKS: “Oh, there will be plenty he can do.”
Chris fears he’ll be useless when it comes to caring for a tiny baby. He thinks mom and baby will bond, and he’ll be stuck on the sidelines. “I have no idea how much I’ll be able to take the load off Susan,” he says. Susan wants Chris’ input—and future help—on everything from breastfeeding to sleep issues. “But he doesn’t see the point of reading about these things,” she says.
THERAPIST SUGGESTS: Be prepared, Chris. “Women don’t innately understand how to do many things required of mothers, including breastfeeding,” Brill says. “So plan now for how you’ll handle problems that may come up.” That might mean dialing up a lactation consultant in the early innings. Throw in some hands-on baby care and let mom sleep in. “And Susan must encourage Chris’ efforts,” Brill says, “not criticize him if she thinks he doesn’t wrap the baby correctly or finds a diaper is on backward.”