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.