New Year’s Resolution: More Sex

Can you have a sex life after having a child? Do you even want one? Let’s say that I did want a sex life. And not just a ho-hum marital duty kind of monthly maintenance, but a hot and juicy, highly satisfying, spontaneous and fun kind of sex life. You know what I’m talking about, the kind that I had before having a baby. The kind that I had when Jack and I were dating and then during the first year of marriage. The kind that is loud and ecstatic in private and hot and hushed in public where there are hopefully no cameras. Although the idea of a voyeuristic security guard wasn’t exactly a turn-off either. (Years later I’m sighing with relief at escaping a police record and criminal conviction brought on by our youthful horny foolishness).

Our second year of marriage was marked by quasi-homelessness and transition. By no means were we hungry and sleeping in the car, but a lack of jobs during a rotten economy had us leaving our home to look for greener pastures. During the transition of a cross-country move, we had a few months separation due to the logistics of moving, then a few months staying with Jack’s parents followed by about seven months staying with my parents. Crashing with one’s parents and in-laws would put a damper on the activity of even the rowdiest of couples, I’m sure. Once we settled into our new home and lives, with the routines and busy schedules of work and school (I went back for my BA), we saw our sex life gradually plateau at once or twice a month. Now let me add, it was very satisfying for both of us, just not as frequently as either of us would have liked. Then I got pregnant with Sam.  Sam is now 19 months old.

December 31, 2011. It’s now been about 21 months since I’ve had sex. That is a long, long time, I know.  It’s also  embarrassing to admit.

First, I was recovering from the c-section. Secondly, I was an exhausted first-time new mother. And I admit, my body is not what I would like it to be. (I had started exercising and lost 15 pounds, but then I got pregnant, and the newly acquired weight loss disappeared like so many double BLTs that I insisted our unborn baby wanted me to eat). Additionally, and no small matter in my mind, I think the scar is ugly. Then I was nursing all the time. My “fun bags” were transformed into nourishing, life-sustaining, often leaky, sometimes sore, fully utilitarian, completely desexualized, milk producers. I rocked my baby and snuggled him close to my body, sharing my warmth with him and gazing at his soft cheeks as he nursed. And I sat in awe of my ability to provide this sweet warm nectar of life for him. And gratitude. I felt overwhelming relief and gratitude that I was able to nurse after such a rocky start with Sam’s inability to latch onto my flat/inverted nipples. But eventually I realized that unlike all of my friends, I was not falling back into past sexual habits. I had become “New Mother,” and I couldn’t remember who “Sexy Wife” was, let alone be able to combine the two roles into one life.

I had lost my groove. I didn’t feel any libido raging through me at all. Who am I kidding? Forget raging. I didn’t sense so much as a slow drip from the fount of sexual desire.  Eventually it felt, to me anyway, like Jack and I had lost our mojo, at least in the bedroom. We were still best friends, and now co-parents of the sweetest little baby boy God ever created, but lovers? Not so much. What happened to my libido? It certainly wasn’t sparking in this frumpy mom. Was it absolutely dead and buried in cold ashes? Yes.

Maybe not. When I went back to work this past summer, I had to go shopping. I bought new clothes. I had lost a couple pounds, nothing really noticeable to anyone besides my fogged up bathroom mirror, but enough that I was able to sashay right past the XLs and fit into a size 12. On the few evenings a week that I was headed to work, I had to ditch the mommy uniform of old sweats and Jack’s old tees. I did my hair and make-up. I wore cute heels. My students listened to me and looked up to me. I felt more confident. I felt attractive again. Then there were a few naughty dreams – mostly about Jack, but the odd celebrity made an appearance as well (sex with a timelord? yeah, that dream was um, interesting). Maybe my sex drive was just hidden away in the land of subconscious dreams. Still, even though I did feel more attractive, I didn’t feel any real interest in having sex again. In fact, so much time had passed that even when I began to have an inkling that there did indeed exist a sex drive, I didn’t know how to start anything up.

I might as well be a young innocent again for all my awkwardness when I try to imagine jump starting our sex life. What would I do? What would I wear? Could I wear something to cover my “problem areas”? Like, say, a tent? With the lights out? Would he be looking at my c-section scar? Would it turn him off? How would I position myself? Like should I be in the bedroom and call him in? Or meet him at the door when he comes home? It just all felt so awkward in my mind. Then there’s the minor problem of our bedroom; it’s a mess. You have to climb over laundry and clutter to get to the bed. Not exactly a sex nest.

It’s like sex amnesia. I don’t remember our rhythm or even how to start the beat. But tonight is New Year’s Eve.  It’s all about new beginnings and giving life an energy boost.  Jack has just put Sam to bed. My husband is making me a very special dinner. There’s a starting course of oeufs en meurrete (which I had once in a restaurant and have never found again, and which he is trying to recreate for me tonight) and a main dish of canard (duck) a l’orange, and the gods of wine should be pouring generously. I may have fallen off for 21 months, but let’s see if I can climb back on the horse, so to speak.

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Another Lie That Parents Tell Kids?

Another lie that parents tell kids?

Husband and wife are fighting over something kid-related. Junior approaches Parent afterwards and asks, “Are you fighting because of me?”
“No, Sweetie, of course not.”
There’s one of those bold-faced lies that parents tell their kids. Isn’t it?

My husband and I hardly ever used to fight. In fact I couldn’t understand why other couples would fight so much. I remember a conversation with my mother-in-law where she said she couldn’t understand how we never got angry with each other, never fought. Jack and I have been together for over twelve years and friends for a few years before that. We got along like best friends. What was there to fight about? Nothing. But now it seems that we fight all the time. What changed? We had a baby.

Friday night’s fight went something like this:
Context: Sam is going to have an evaluation done because of our concerns regarding his delayed language.

Me: Perhaps it would be better if you (hubby) were not present for the evaluation.
Jack: Maybe they want parents to be there.
Me: Well, yeah, it’s important that a parent is there. I’ll be there.
Then somehow as he’s arguing why can’t he be the parent that is there, I might have said something about me being the primary parent. I admit (to myself and three days later) that “primary parent” was completely the wrong phrase to use because by default it labels Jack as the obviously less appealing “secondary parent.” He pointed this out to me quickly and angrily. However, when I said “primary parent” my thinking was that I am the parent that is with Sam for most of his waking hours, so perhaps I would have a better chance of getting Sam to “perform” for the evaluator. Back to the fight…
Jack: I can’t believe you’re doing this!
Me: Doing what?
Jack: Marginalizing me as a parent!
Me: What? I am not marginalizing you as a parent. I would never do that! That’s not who we are! That’s not what we’re about! And you know what? This is not about you! It’s not all about you! It’s about Sam! It’s about a concern that I had, and I wanted what’s best for Sam.
Jack: Based on nothing! No one told you that. They didn’t tell you that it would be best if there was only one other person there. You’re basing that on nothing!
Me: Oh! So my feelings and concerns are NOTHING?
Jack: Oh, please!
Me: And how can you accuse me of such a horrible thing as trying to marginalize you as a parent? I would never do that! Just like you accused me of thinking our son was stupid because I was concerned about him. I can’t believe you accuse me of such horrible things! I would NEVER try to marginalize you as a parent!
Jack: Well, that’s certainly what it sounded like.
Me: Well, maybe you should say to yourself “Gee, Gwen would never try to marginalize me as a parent. She must not have realized how that sounded. Let me see what she really meant instead.” Instead of attacking me and accusing me!
Jack: Well, I was hurt and that’s my defensive move.

Long pause… is the fight over? Nah, not yet.

Jack: So why can’t we both be there? I think we should both be there.
Me: I think it would be better if only one of us is there.
Jack: And why is that?
Me: I think it might be too distracting for Sam if we’re both there.
Jack: You think it would be too distracting if we’re both there?
Me: Yeah, maybe.
Jack: But not if you’re there?
Me: Right.
Jack: So what is it exactly about my presence that would be so distracting?
Me:
Me:
Me:
Silence for the next hour. Which signified the end of the fight.

Yeah, I admit, when reading the words in black and white, I don’t come out looking too great. So what was I thinking? I thought that the calmest atmosphere would be best for Sam. I thought that he might get confused, overwhelmed, or fussy if he had two parental voices commanding that he GET THE BALL THE BALL, SAM, WHERE’S THE BALL CAN YOU GET THE BALL? Or even worse, one parent tells him to get the ball while the other parent, seeing that Sam is not moving towards the ball, decides to prompt him to get the cow. GET THE BALL, SAM, GET THE BALL, HOW ABOUT THE COW, SAM, GET THE COW, THE BALL, GET THE BALL, GET THE COW, C-OOO-W, GET THE COW! BALL! Cowball?

I was also a bit worried that Jack wouldn’t want to sit back and allow Sam to play and explore on his own. Maybe he would try to guide Sam towards certain toys and activities for the evaluator’s benefit. (Although I suppose for all I know, he/she may prefer guided play for the observation.) However, Jack will often leave Sam to play and entertain himself. So, really, I’m not sure what I’m worried about. Perhaps I’m just worried, period.

But back to my original question – which bothers me because I don’t want to be the kind of parent who lies. Our whole fight was because of Sam, was it not? If Sam were to ask me if it was his fault that we were fighting, I could confidently say “NO.” It is not his fault if we disagree, even vehemently, about some parenting issue. But, we are fighting because of him. Am I just splitting hairs? Can any other parents shed some light on this question for me? I remember my parents fighting when I was young, and there was nothing wrong with my ears. I knew full well that they were arguing about me. I assume that if I had asked my mother if they were arguing because of me, she would have hugged me and said, “No, Sweetie, of course not.” And I probably would have thought she was lying.