The unsexiest day of my life came three days after I became a mom, when my husband caught me trying to express milk out of my newly engorged breasts with a manual pump.
I hadn't slept in three days. I hadn't showered in four. My eyes were too puffy for my contacts, and my hair was shoved back in a scrunchie. Milk dripped down my stomach and pooled on the bedspread. Every ten minutes or so I'd start weeping again.
I looked up to see my husband, Luke, watching me. He held our newborn daughter in his arms, looking as handsome as I'd ever seen him. He smiled.
"Don't look at me!" I shrieked, and scurried to hide myself in the bathroom. Motherhood is many things, but sexy it ain't. This doesn't matter in the early days, since your baby wants you and your body for the comfort and nourishment it provides her -- and let's face it, she's the only one who matters in the beginning.
At some point, however, the woman you used to be before you became a mother will peek out of her hiding place and demand some time. Once you're getting some regular, uninterrupted sleep every night, the way is paved for the return of your sensual side. You might find yourself enjoying the view as your husband dresses for work in the morning. Or maybe you'll simply linger a bit too long on Colin Farrell's handsome mug on the cover of a magazine.
Either way, the return of these amorous impulses usually heralds an assessment of your current state. Hair? Body? Wardrobe? Yikes! New moms, bleary of eye and soggy of T-shirt, all ask the very same question: "Will I ever feel desirable again?"
The answer is yes. But you've got to take the steps to reclaim your inner babe. The first one: Banish any guilt for taking away time from the kids. After all, paying attention to the non-mom side of you lets you be a better mother, says Valerie Raskin, M.D., author of Great Sex for Moms, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Chicago, and a mom of three kids. So whether that means a regular night out with your girlfriends or buying some new clothes to show off your extra-round body, do it without a second's thought. A happy mom means a happy family.
What can you do to feel like your old attractive self again? Some ideas that moms say worked wonders for them: