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My kids ruined my plans for tonight

Today started off so promising.  I was feeling a bit boring and stuck in my clothing rut of shorts and a tank top (not the sexy ones you’re thinking of, sadly)–so I decided to wear a thong.  Then I put on my bracelet which carries the subtle engraving of the word “slut.”  That lifted my spirits, and inspired some sexting between myself and the husband.

Then…within the space of 60-90 minutes…

The not quite 4 year old threw  huge tantrum over dinner.  I had the nerve to serve chicken and rice–clearly I should be arrested for torture.

The not quite 4 year old pounded on the door while I way trying to pee.  No, no going to the toilet alone for you, Mommy.

The 1 year old tried to chew on a shampoo bottle while I had them both in the tub.  I sprayed myself with the detachable showerhead as I lunged for the bottle.  Again, not in the sexy wet-t-shirt way.  In the half drowned rat way.  Also sprayed-a big chunk of my bathroom.  FUN!

The 1 year old screamed bloody murder when I dared to remove her from the bath and put clothes on her.

The 1 year old protested at the top of her lungs when I had the temerity to put her in the crib so I could finish bathing her sister.

I took the 4 year old into her room and discovered she had colored all over her mirror.

Also–my 4 year old has decided that rather than call me Mommy, she prefers “Mother.”  Sigh.

By the time my partner came home, all I wanted to do was come into my bedroom, turn off the lights….and listen to loud rock music or watch West Wing.  Not so much with the interactions or the touching or the anything.

Maybe with an hour or two of alone time and loud music I’ll be ready to go find my bracelet again.  Or go to sleep.  Either seems likes a reasonable conclusion to my day.

My evolving relationship with my breasts

My breasts have generally been a disappointment to me.

I remember feeling like the last girl to develop in middle school.  As a plus sized woman, shirts are cut to accommodate a certain figure, and my barely C cup breasts never quite filled out a top correctly, to my eternal shopping frustration.    When the LM was born, breastfeeding just never worked out for a variety of reasons and I was angry with them, feeling as though they had failed me.

Having a successful breastfeeding relationship with the BG has made me re-evaluate my relationship with my breasts.  They are successfully doing the job they are engineered to do.  They are fuller than they have ever been (in which I have to admit I take some amount of shallow joy).

However, this is not to say that all is well and now I love my breast and it’s all rainbows and unicorns and Disney songs over at the DN household.

My breasts now straddle the line between sexual and functional and I’m often filled with ambivalence over this.  On one hand, I enjoy their sexy fullness.  On the other, I’m embarrassed when I’m walking in the mall and look down to find my shirt soaked from leaking (although not embarrassed enough to wear a bra).  They make me feel sexy, but I’m not always comfortable with having my partner or myself sexualize them. I’ve fought for my right to breastfeed publicly and then felt uncomfortable doing so.

Madison Young explored all the controversy and ambivalence over the whole breastfeeding is sexual/isn’t sexual….and was called out for it by another woman.

There’s been plenty said about this dust-up (the Jezebel article is a good place to start if you missed it), and I don’t know that I have much to say that hasn’t been said already (other than I think Young did nothing wrong, I think the concept is brilliant and I wish I’d been able to attend).

However, I’ve been thinking about this controversy a lot lately because I’ve been at war…with myself.  Ironically I had none of this ambivalence or conflict when I was a pumping mom…maybe because my breasts were one step removed from the actual feeding of my baby.  Now that they are directly involved in the relationship (in fact, the basis of the relationship), I find that I’m struggling with my own perceptions of where the line between sexy and functionality is at any given moment and when the line can and should blur.

Touched Out

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  The husband had to work late, and I was home with the girls.  The baby, at 4 months, is hardly a handful…but the 3 year old can be another story entirely.

I rigged a game of Candyland to ensure a speedy end once I’d announced that bedtime was imminent, after the game was over.  I had barely settled her and gone out to the living room when my husband got home.

I was surprised that instead of feeling happy that he was home….I felt a frisson of disappointment.  Part of me had been gearing up for an hour or two of alone time before ending the evening with my partner.  While I was happy to see him, and had been missing him…I felt a little cheated of “me time.”

I recognized this feeling from my last go-round with the newborn period.  The sensation of being “touched out.”  I love that the LM is affectionate and loves to climb in my lap and give me hugs and beg for “Mommy ups” (to be picked up and hugged tightly) and so forth.  I love that I’ve managed a successful breastfeeding relationship with BG.  I love that my husband is still attracted to me physically after almost 7 years together and 2 children.  But there are days when I all I want is NOT to be touched, hugged, pulled on, climbed on, breastfed from, and so forth.

Yesterday I took that “me time” by making my husband dinner.  Yes, it’s a total cliche…but I love to cook, and the kitchen is my domain.  Making food for my loved ones makes me happy (most days…) and as I prefer to cook alone, it also serves as a place where I get that touch-free time.  By the time dinner was ready, I was more than happy to hang out with him and watch the Daily Show online.

Feeling touched out is normal.  It’s hard not to read too much into it, especially if you’re a first time mom.  One of the perks of second time parenthood is that it’s easier to identify those transient feelings, and to acknowledge them, and to deal with them constructively (most of the time).

 

In other news…the book is out!  Go buy it!  Irresistible: Erotic Romance for Couples!  (And, yes I do see the irony of pimping my story about sex after kids in a post about feeling touched out…)

Failing at having sex

I’m feeling a sense of deja vu.  I’m almost certain I’ve written this post before, after the LM was born.  But what I’ve said before bears repeating…it is OKAY to “fail” at having sex.

Yesterday was my “six week” check-up, and I was thrilled to have been cleared for sex.  Between being put on bed rest after having pre-term labor, and how lousy I’d been feeling prior to that, it had literally been MONTHS since I’d had penetrative sex.  While I am a loud and enthusiastic supporter of alternative forms of intimacy between partners, it had been a while and I had a specific agenda for last night.

I may have talked a big game prior, texting my husband things things like how he should have a protein and carb rich lunch because I had high expectations for that night.  But somehow between the errands and the parenting, while I did manage to shave my legs, I ran out of steam.  I’m guessing that my (necessary, if I want chairs for our Thanksgiving party on Saturday) trip to IKEA was what tipped the balance into “far too tired” for me.  For my husband’s part, while his enthusiasm got him home on the early side, he’d had a long day, too…coupled with hurting his foot.

We made an effort, but admitted that we were just too damn tired last night.

When you are a new parent (or a parent at all), there will be times when you want to have sex, you plan to have sex….and you don’t have sex.

Do not read too much into it.  One failure (hell, 5 or 10 of them) doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed.  It has changed (whether it’s your first kid or your 5th), and there are going to be bumps along the road.

When these failures occur, make a point of still being emotionally intimate with your partner and get some good cuddles in…even if you end up cuddling with a baby between you.

All Touched Out–The 4th Trimester

In the early weeks after your baby is born, you may feel like you never get five minutes alone.  Or even just five minutes without someone touching you.  If this isn’t your first child, you may feel this even more than you did the last time.

With the LM, I remember thinking I would never get to use my left arm again (her preferred resting place, leaving me to type one handed).  This time around, as I am breastfeeding on demand, and the baby girl (also known as the breastfed girl–BG) only sleeps well when co-sleeping in my arm.  On top of that, the LM has decided that coming into our bed every night between 3 and 6am is a great idea, and curls up in the circle of my other arm.  And I have a husband who wants, and deserves to be touched (even if I’m not cleared for sex yet).

Readers, I have never wanted to touch or be touched less than I do right now.

My husband’s response to that, for the record, was “speak for yourself, woman.”

It is absolutely normal for there to be a mismatch of desire in these early baby days, with the primary caregiver feeling over-touched and the other partner feeling under-touched.  You are at a stage in the relationship where you are balancing for the first time, or re-balancing your relationship with each other and your newly expanded family.

Suggestions

Even if you are breastfeeding, there is a 90 minute to 3 hour gap between start of feed and start of feed.  In that period, someone else can hold the baby so you can go shower/watch an episode of your favorite show/sleep by yourself/ write a blog post/ fill in the blank.  Consider encouraging  your partner to be this person.  Or a friend, or a family member, or hire a “mother’s helper” for $10 an hour to hold the baby while you get some alone time.  If money is tight, consider finding another mom and trading off with her.

Distinguish between touches where you are the caregiver and when you are receiving care.  Ask your partner (if you need it…I certainly do) to make his/her/their touches on your body to be about caregiving.  That they are making you feel better when you touch, rather than asking things of you (such as an orgasm).  From personal experience, I can testify that I’m far more open to satisfying a partner’s needs once mine have been attended to (and I’m not just talking orgasm…back rubs/scratches are my personal touch request).

Don’t let resentment build…be open with your partner(s) about what you’re feeling and try to find the solution that works for your family.

 

If all else fails, this stage will likely only last until about 13 weeks when your baby starts sleeping longer stretches, colic tends to fade, and in general life seems to get a bit easier.

 

Post Partum Sex–Vaginal Dryness

Post-partum vaginal dryness–almost universally experienced, almost never discussed.

Many women incorrectly attribute vaginal dryness, and the accompanying painful sex to a lack of desire for sex, or a lack of desire for their partner.  For some women (especially first time moms), this begins a downward spiral that is easily coupled with lack of sleep, fragile self-esteem as a mom, and a change in self-perception (who am I now that I’m also someone’s mom?) where a sexual relationship with their partner becomes harder and harder to recover.

I’m here to prevent that from happening.

First of all, you’re as attracted to your partner as you ever were.  Possibly more, if you’re feeling sentimental about creating new life with them.  New, exhausting life that has you sleep deprived (also a libido killer), possibly suffering from Post Partum Depression (also a libido killer), and suffering from the kind of estrogen drop you won’t experience again until menopause.  That’s right, an estrogen drop.

Estrogen is the number one hormone responsible for vaginal lubrication.

You are not experiencing vaginal dryness because of lack of desire for sex or for your partner…you are experiencing it because your body is producing very little estrogen.

Repeat this as often as you need to hear it.

How long will it last?

Vaginal dryness lasts anywhere from 3-12 months post-partum.  It can depend on a variety of factors…breastfeeding tends to prolong it, for example.  It is one of the tools evolution has come up with to prevent you from getting pregnant again too quickly (evolution has not caught up with modern day birth control methods…sorry).

What can I do about it?

Your best bet is to purchase water-based lubricant (available almost universally at grocery stores and pharmacies/drug stores, not just “adult” stores) and use it prior to sexual contact with your partner.  If it is interfering with your pleasure during masturbation, try lube then as well.

A quick note–avoid silicon-based lubees as they can break down latex in condoms and sex toys.

 

Hopefully knowing that your lack of lubrication is not your fault, your partner’s fault, or unnatural in any way will help you on your journey back to sexuality post-partum.