Babies totally expropriate one’s sex life. It just happens. In some ways it’s necessary. Babies are the center of the world and they need their parents in order to survive. I get it – it’s actually very lovely – but when I wake up in the morning lying in a wet spot, my t-shirt soaked, and droplets of milk all over chest, I am nostalgic for a time long gone. A time when falling asleep in the wet spot made me smile in sated bliss. A time when a wet t-shirt meant a pretty good party. And a time when a pearl necklace was applied with something other than a baby bottle.
It starts with pregnancy and birth. Being pregnant means giving up your body for a period of time. You can usually still do all of the things you like to do, even have sex, but there is an awareness that you are sheltering another life. Much of your energy goes toward dreaming that baby into being. Then it’s time for the birth and your cervix and vagina open incredibly wide to push the baby out. Birth is an amazing miracle, but it’s also very animal. The process is physically relentless as the body does what it knows to do. Afterwards, you feel a little strange in your body and most women feel some cramping and vaginal discomfort for at least a while – sometimes up to 6 weeks. Learning to breast feed your baby can be challenging. For me, it was always the most rewarding part of having a baby, but suddenly breasts aren’t just sexual any more. Nipples are for feeding the baby, not squeezing.
It takes some women a long time to feel like sex after birth, but after I healed from each birth, I was ready to make love again. Breast feeding pumps you up with oxytocin, the hormone that makes you feel love. It’s also released when you orgasm and when you gaze into your lover’s eyes. It makes you feel warm and slightly fuzzy. It makes some men fall asleep after they come. Having my babies at breast tended to fill me with love. That love often translated to desire for my partner and sex, in turn, translated to feeling more warmth for my baby. But sometimes, I would feel touched out. Having a baby attached to me all day could turn me off.
I imagine it’s hard for the dads too. Today Joel mentioned that he’s not getting enough snuggling. Well, of course not, there’s a baby sleeping between us! Touching toes only goes so far. Still, we’ve always been good at finding creative solutions to the baby-in-the-bed issue. I think that where there is desire, there is a way. I’d just prefer that the baby stop sticking her hands down my shirt to grab my nipples. Especially in public.