Journalist Ford's debut, a collection of essays about how sexuality changes after children are added to the marital equation, is a flaccid affair. Despite the abundance of steamy vernacular, the author's tepid and detached delivery-and fondness for third-party reportage-make her come across as removed and impassive. Ford is a clunky stylist; her choice to refer to couples in her bawdy anecdotes as "baby Nate's mom" and "Lucas' young dad" stunt much of the book's comedic-and carnal-potential. Moments that should have left readers hooting and blushing-such as an explosively flatulent infant in bed with a couple engaged in vigorous lovemaking-fail to deliver. The chapters "Pleasure Party" and "Kinderotics" do entertain in their descriptions of women-only crowds attempting to reclaim or augment their sexual prowess through erotic dancing and myriad sex toys. Ford is capable of movingly depicting the pure doggedness of lust after childbirth and child-rearing and inspires with stories of rekindled passion; when she goes for laughs, however, her book falls flat. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Hump: True Tales of Sex After Kidsby Kimberly Ford
An exploration of the last taboo subject--do parents of young children ever have sex?--HUMP is a sometimes startling, often funny and always entertaining report from bedrooms (and bathrooms, and closets, and…) all across America, proving that sex is not oSee more details below
An exploration of the last taboo subject--do parents of young children ever have sex?--HUMP is a sometimes startling, often funny and always entertaining report from bedrooms (and bathrooms, and closets, and…) all across America, proving that sex is not o
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True Tales of Sex After Kids
By Kimberly Ford
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2008 Julianne MacLean
All rights reserved.
Back in the Saddle
[Tips for] Easing Back into Sex:
— Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi Murkoff, and
Sandee E. Hathaway, B.S.N.
What to Expect When You're Expecting
So I've got this hunch. That if you were sitting here on the couch next to me with a cup of tea or decaf or a glass of wine, and if I asked you about your experience of labor and delivery, that you would be subject to an uncommon intensity of remembered emotion.
You might recall a crushing fear of umbilical cords twined around a small neck or the illogical anxiety that some unprecedented medical tragedy would occur during that birth, on that day, at the site of your body. You might be in the tiny minority who recalls only the serenity and pleasure she felt throughout her hypno-birth. Maybe you worried for months that you wouldn't get the epidural in time and then you did, in fact, deliver in the hospital lobby. You may have been the woman whose paralyzing fear was that of being driven literally insane by the unplumbed pain that made the women in those eerie birthing-class videos keen. Or you had been totally mortified by the mere possibility of pooping on the delivery table, then you did poop on the delivery table and pooping on the delivery table turned out to be the least of your issues. You might describe the strange details etched into your memory: the scent of the hospital's pink liquid soap, the pattern on your gown, the soothing lavender candle in the midwife's bedroomlike birth center or the packet of stale Oreos from the vending machine immediately postpartum that were maybe the most delicious thing you had ever tasted.
What if, though, I asked you about the first time you had sex after the baby?
You might guffaw or grimace or look at me blankly then quizzically, trying in vain to remember the first time you had sex after the birth of your first child.
Tales of postpartum sex are nothing, really, compared to the cathartic process of recounting labor and delivery. Which is logical. And appropriate. The birth of a child is momentous and anxiety provoking, unique and life altering, an uncommon event the average American woman experiences only twice in her life. Sex can be momentous too, of course. But sex resides on a more common and familiar plane. It follows that conversation about postpartum sex should be less healing and important, less often elicited and indulged than tales of labor and delivery. But the idea that a dreaded or frightening or glorious experience of postpartum sex shouldn't be laughed at or commiserated over or shared in appropriate and supportive ways ... that's something I'd like to rethink.
* * *
Nathan Armstrong Holt, 8lbs., 6oz., exited his mother's uterus on April 16, 1997. His parents might have known from the way Nathan refused to turn and get his big head down into his mother's pelvis (thus necessitating a cesarean section) that little Nate might not always — as is the case with every single child — cooperate.
Nathan's nonconformism didn't start with his refusal of a "normal" delivery. One could argue that his parents might have anticipated this hitch in their birthing expectations when their son's conception occurred only six months after their first date (a very sporty but never-to-be-repeated afternoon of Rollerblading on the idyllic palm-and-oak-studded Stanford campus where Nathan's parents were conspicuous not only for their coquettish though uncoordinated efforts at blading, but also because they were significantly older — forty-five and thirty-eight — than the students thronging White Plaza). Magical Rollerblading moments led to gourmet dinner dates, which led to conception after Nate's mom's diaphragm mysteriously flipped, ejecting its spermicidal jelly and letting all those little swimmers past. (Nate's mom will admit in secrecy that this was probably user error, but in the company of Nate's dad, she will tell you that it was her husband's massive organ and his sexual ingenuity that accounted for the flip.) A year after his parents' courtship had begun, tiny fetus Nathan ostensibly witnessed their betrothal while in utero, followed some weeks later by much laughter on the part of his parents concerning the wedding photographer's immense care not to show the sizable six-month bump in even a single photograph in the Holts' tasteful wedding album.
Almost five weeks after the birth, Nate's mother stands in the kitchen waiting for the coffee to be ready. This coffee is her first of the day and it's almost noon. Though there is desperation in this fact, Nathan's new mother is experiencing the delicious pleasure of standing alone in a quiet kitchen, paging through a catalog while her infant sleeps.
As she looks at said catalog, her eyes alight upon a chaste camisole sort of number made of the "finest Danish green cotton." She doesn't have any idea what Danish green cotton is. She heads a public relations firm and understands that Danish green cotton is no more than a decent marketing ploy. Still, Danish cotton sounds like it might feel really good against her skin. She brings the catalog closer to her face. She holds it away. She smiles, confirming the marked similarity between the breasts under the Danish green cotton and the D-cups Nathan's mom has been unexpectedly proud of sporting since her son's birth.
Baby Nate's mom may only have known his dad for a total of thirteen months at this point, but she's familiar enough with her new husband to know that he's no lingerie man. Garters and teddies, even thong underwear (thank God, she thinks) are a turnoff for her guy. This new mom knows her husband well enough to conclude that the surest way to get him going (she doubts it'll be all that difficult given their recent new-baby sex drought) is to don one of his dress shirts with nothing on underneath.
Five diaper changes, three burp cloths, four different outfits (three for the baby, one for herself), and she's made it through the day. Right before six o'clock she hears her husband's car pull into the garage and Nathan's mother is pleased because she has just finished nursing the baby, who has fallen asleep next to her on the king-size bed. She has lighted candles, poured herself an unfashionably full goblet of expensive cabernet, and has her favorite Miles Davis on the stereo. She hears her man move through the mudroom into the kitchen. He calls her name but this vixen offers no reply. She waits, smiling to herself, getting — with significant relief — more and more hot about this little setup of hers.
And when the baby's father rounds the corner and gets a load of the music and the candles, the wine, and his favorite white dress shirt gaping to reveal the perfect round breasts (that belong to his wife!) — when she moves forward to sit on splayed knees there on the bed — he forgets entirely that they have a child. He hurries across plush carpet and onto the bed, almost crushing his tiny son with his knee, but Nate's dad only smiles murmuring, "No harm, no foul."
Mercifully, the baby snoozes on. Mercifully because Nathan's parents like to take things slowly. Nate's mom and dad are seasoned lovers. Nathan's parents are old enough to know that maximum pleasure comes from maximum attention, from the right fingertips applied to the right area, from the perfect amount of pressure on the no-longer-quite-so-perfect body part.
On and on Nate sleeps and things are getting good.
Things are so good, in fact, that Ellen gives Peter the nod. A little smile and a hand on her new husband's ass mean it's okay. Of course, there is concern that childbirth will have forever altered sex. That there will be lack of sensation or serious pain (not looseness per se because Ellen has had a C-section). But none of the above! This feels good. Great, in fact. All their slow, hard work is paying off and things are heating up and this could be memorable.
When there on the bed beside his fucking parents, baby Nate explodes. He is startled from infant sleep by a fart storm. Thunderous flatulence drowns out Miles Davis and the bedsprings and drowns out his parents' laughter at such loud explosive farting from such a teeny body.
And it's a good thing Nate's folks appreciate the scatological and see real humor in this, because Nathan's dad's erection is losing traction and though Nate's dad will be able to block out the crazy farting that's going on and on and on and on beside them, though he will be able to look away from the tiny purple straining face and get his business done, Nate's mother won't be so lucky.
Which is all right. Really. Because even without an orgasm for her, this evening is a victory. This new mom actually felt like having sex. She herself created a situation in which she and Nate's dad had sex again! Although Ellen feels momentarily unsatisfied when Peter rolls off her, frustration is short-lived.
She reaches across the bed, away from her heavy-breathing mate. She lays a hand on the round warmth of little Nate's bald infant head. His tiny body jumps as a final belated fart thunders forth and Ellen laughs. Peter laughs too, both of them thinking that the whole experience has been just fine.
* * *
Sasha Catherine Ericson was born Thursday, February 10, 2005, to an astonishingly bright mother and a talented architect father, both of whom are unusually attractive.
Sasha's mother's driving desire from the time she was four was to be in the Ice Capades. Because Sasha's mother is both athletically gifted and tenacious, her rarified dream came true. Sasha's mother, subsequently, was smart enough to consider maternity only after having toured the globe for a dozen years with "the show." Only after much self-reflection and adventure and many excellent years of outspoken swearing and high heels and raucous late nights, only after marrying her hot husband and enjoying another few years of serious leisure travel did Sasha's mother one day decide that she would, in fact, like to have a baby.
This was not easy. Sasha's mother spent four years muttering goddammit when she felt incipient cramping or found evidence of failed conception on toilet paper or in her panties. There were two years of acupuncture, scheduled sex, and superstitious temperature taking. Finally, Sasha's parents decided to "take a break" from the desperate business of babies and spent a month in remote outposts of the South Pacific. Post-travel nausea failed to resolve itself back in the States, was diagnosed as pregnancy, and little Sasha was born eight months later. Her intuitive mother took one look at Sasha's crooked little smile and was convinced that this child was the embodiment of her best friend and figure-skating superstar Patrick Reed, who had died some years before.
So it was that Sasha's mother — six weeks after giving birth — came to have the following discussion with her handsome husband over the nightly beer that was lately getting her through the evenings.
"It's all Patrick's fucking fault."
Sasha's dad looks up from the unidentifiable casserole a friend brought over. "What is?" "That big head of his. Patrick's big fucking skull."
"He did have a big head. But what's his fault?"
"My six-week checkup this morning. I swear to you. I am not even kidding. Dr. Lu had to put three fingers up there. Not just one like before. Three fucking fingers to feel around for whatever she feels around for!" It's easier to say it like this, to swear and seem to be exaggerating. But she isn't exaggerating. Sasha's mother has developed considerable anxiety during the course of the day that her body has been forever ruined by a seven-and-a-half-pound person busting out of her vagina.
And because her husband shakes his head just the littlest bit and smiles sort of ironically, she has to say, "What."
"Just that ... when you were having the baby, she had her whole forearm up there."
"Sorry. Not helpful."
The baby monitor bleeps and crackles, both parents looking to where it sits on the counter then away as it falls silent.
Sasha's dad takes up his wife's beer and has a long swig. "It'll be fine," he says. "I'm sure it'll be fine."
"How do you know that? My vagina's so big you could drive a fucking Volkswagen in there! What if it doesn't go back?"
"It'll go back."
"What if it doesn't?"
Sasha's attractive father leans forward and takes his beautiful wife's hand in his. Sasha's mother wants to cry because she loves this man enough to have had his child wreck her body and her sex life forever and he's going to say something incredibly reassuring and maybe this will be the night they'll have sex again for the first time even though the thought of her husband's penis anywhere near her still-recovering vagina is horrifying and from what she's heard she's completely justified in not having sex again after only six weeks.
Her dreamy husband gazes at her. "Look," he says, "if it doesn't go back ..."
"We'll just butt-fuck."
And Sasha's mom laughs so hard that she actually pees a little. She's laughing but she's overwhelmed and soon she's weeping with gratitude and tenderness because this man is so good and so funny and Sasha's mom is thinking that even if her vagina never "goes back," at least she and her knockout husband have this.
* * *
When Gianna Truth Fiorucci's mother's OB visits her in the hospital, he admires the baby then wraps things up by saying he'll see her in six weeks for her postpartum. Gianna's mother then remembers reading that the six-week postpartum usually means getting a green light in the sex department. She looks quickly to her doctor. "What if," she readjusts the ice pack pressed to her crotch, "what if I make that appointment not for six weeks, but maybe like ... sixteen?"
* * *
Anna Marie Grebes (an impossible-to-predict 10 lbs., 8oz.) shocked everyone by ripping out of her mother's vagina right in the hospital lobby. Anna's petite, twenty-nine-year-old mother suffered third-degree tearing, extensive repairs of the perineum, a suture that became infected months after her doctor failed to remove it, hemorrhoids the size of large grapes, and a devastating psychological defeat when her body refused to produce enough breast milk for her cute but really large baby.
Eleven months after the birth, Anna's mother looks up from where her daughter is sitting with blocks on her best friend's living room floor. That very morning Anna's mother came to realize that the reason she had pulled her old bathrobe from the back of the closet some months ago and had taken to wearing it to and from the shower was not for warmth but to avoid the possibility of arousing her husband with her naked body (now fat and saggy and gross, she thinks, though Anna's father disagrees and would convincingly argue that he likes the way her body now seems more ... womanly).
Anna's mom looks at her best friend and is pretty sure she's going to cry. She looks away. "Mike and I haven't done it," she says. "It's been eleven months and we still haven't had sex. I can't put a Tampax in without dying because it hurts so much." Anna's mother is now crying, which makes her feel melodramatic and defective. She's worried about the effect of no sex for almost a full year on her marriage. She's petrified at the idea of unbearable pain during intercourse. She's indescribably tired of giving blow jobs.
Mobilized, the best friend takes baby Anna for the following Saturday night. The lucky couple drives north. They check in to the sumptuous Sonoma Mission Inn, which is obscenely priced, but these are desperate times. Anna's mother loves a nice spa and Anna's father is not above desperate measures.
Drinks, dinner, a walk through a vineyard, more drinks, and Anna's parents are back in their fancy room. Astroglide and lingerie and much foreplay and more drinks and more foreplay before Anna's father is atop Anna's mother. She can feel the pressure of his penis near her vagina and she breathes. She wills herself to relax and flashes back to the gruesome horror of delivering a baby in the hospital lobby. She closes her eyes and takes another deep breath. She presses resolute hands against her husband's ass and tries to unclench her jaw as he carefully moves into her and the pain is astounding.
The pain is a burning ripping blazing that makes Diane cry out and push herself away from Mike, who is trying really hard to be patient. He lets his head fall forward so that it rests between his wife's large flaccid breasts as she begins to cry.
* * *
Some weeks or months after the births of Emma Jordan Sachs, Erin Leslie Dunlap, Peter Miller, and Michaela Baul, these infants' mothers were enjoying long-absent foreplay with fathers who were ecstatic to have wives who seemed ready to have sex again. Although each father was confident in his own sexual expertise, in his own preferences, and his knowledge of his wife's tastes, each dad was surprised when his wife's breasts responded to his magic touch with sudden streams of milk.
Excerpted from Hump by Kimberly Ford. Copyright © 2008 Julianne MacLean. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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