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Love in the Time of Colic
The New Parents' Guide to Getting It On Again
By Heidi Raykeil Ian Kerner
Copyright © 2009
All right reserved.
Chapter One Back in the Saddle Again: Why It's So Darn Hard to Start Having Sex Again After Having a Baby
Lights, Camera ... Action?
Picture this: A new mom returns from her six-week postpartum checkup to find several messages from her husband who is eagerly awaiting the news. All clear for takeoff? All systems go? Are we romance-ready? He certainly is, and that night, after the baby is asleep, he makes his move. Mom tries to get into it, but her boobs are heavy and full, she's self-conscious about her body, and none of her husband's standard techniques are getting her excited. He can sense her hesitation and pulls back a little, afraid of getting to the point of no return and, well, having to return. She doesn't know how to take his sudden lack of "liftoff," so she pulls back too. It's a series of misconnections and misfires. Even as they begin to make love, neither is really present; the result is unromantic, uncomfortable fumbling. In the anti-afterglow, Mom rushes up to check on the baby, while Dad lies in bed, unsure about what just happened. "Houston, we have a problem."
Heidi: Yikes-space travel metaphors aside, that scenario sounds a little too familiar. Here's what I really want to know-who came up with this whole six-week number anyway? Clearly it's some kind of conspiracy, fueled by male gynecologists. Ian: Maybe so-but you know it's not all get up and go from the male side either-we've seen a lot over the past nine months, maybe a little too much if you know what I mea.... ast we saw, in the delivery room, it was pretty Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness down there....
Heidi: Try living it!
Heidi: You know, it would actually be easier if this whole "saddle shy" issue were only a result of the changes in those weeks after childbirth. But you and I both know all too well that what starts out as a little slump can quickly become a serious rut. Ian: That's right. According to a recent CNN report, more than 40 million Americans are stuck in a sex rut, and I bet many of those slumps followed the birth of a child. So regardless of where you are in the "sleepless, sexless, hard up, and horny" timeline, whether it's six weeks, six months, or even six years, it's time to get the ball rolling again.
So here you are. You've bought the condoms (you better have!), you've shaved your legs. (Maybe. Armpits at least?) But now what? In some ways it was so much easier not having sex for a while. You didn't have to think about it, worry about it, or add it to the list of chores that has grown with your beautiful new family. Sex was just another thing you could put off while you adjusted to your babyfied life. But now it's time to stop putting it off and start getting off.
If you're a woman you may be feeling much like Heidi did after the birth of her first daughter; sleepless and sexless, overwhelmed and overused. The physical and emotional demands of childbirth, motherhood, and nursing often conspire to be the anti-sexy. You're freaked out about your body, your plumbing, and your moods; and you're so tired you can barely see straight. And while some of you might be curious about starting things up again, or long to be close with your partners again, for others sex is the furthest thing from your mind. Except, of course, when your partner brings it up. Again. And again.
Sex, sex, sex. My husband has a one-track mind. Sometimes I'm so fed up, I feel like I'm ready to pull a Lorena Bobbitt and be done with the whole thing for once and all. But then I just smile and kiss him and tell him he's putting me in the mood in for a second child and that does the trick just as well. In a matter of seconds he's off watching a rerun of Two and a Half Men.
If you're a guy you might be feeling, well, hard up, horny, and ready to get back in there. Sort of. You've been through your own changes. Many of you have been subsisting on a junk diet of power bars and porn during the last six weeks-you've been taking matters into your own hands quite literally, and you're kind of used to fast-forwarding to the money shot and getting yourself off in less than sixty seconds. Compared to the rest of your new, baby-crazed life, those sixty seconds are like your own little spa day complete with happy ending. Will you be able to say the same about sex with the mother of your child? Even just that phrase-"mother of your child"-takes a little getting used to. It can definitely add to your anxiety about the sex to come: Are you going to get a mouthful of warm breast milk? How is everything holding up down there?
It was a war zone in the delivery room. I was in awe of my wife, but I admit I was also pretty freaked out. It took a while to see her in the same light again.
The physical and mental changes couples go through after having or adopting a baby can rock even the sexiest of constitutions, leaving a wake of confusion for both parties. With so much going on it might be easier to think that if you just put sex on hold for another couple months, if you just wait a little longer, then things will get back to what they were before. (It won't, trust us!) We're here to say, now is the time, now is the place, now is the beginning of something very different but equally sweet and often even more so. This is an opportunity to start fresh, to build a new foundation for sexual fun, based on the closeness, honesty, and patience you're gaining. (You are gaining it, trust us.) Getting back in the saddle is daunting-and you're right to expect a little chafing. But with a little finesse, a lot of love, some tack, and plenty of tact, you'll be barreling around again in no time.
Excerpted from Love in the Time of Colic by Heidi Raykeil Ian Kerner Copyright © 2009 by Heidi Raykeil. Excerpted by permission.
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