It was a first for me–being in bed with two men at the same time. Well, let me clarify that–one was the Tall Man, my vertically blessed, handsome, and loving husband, and the other was Little Man–my lovely, lanky baby with blonde hair and a smile so big and bright it could light up a room. Nuzzling my head into the area of little baby chub folds on his neck I listened to his breathing, and curled in closer to his tiny body. Brut may smell like a man, but the only scent that got me going anymore was No More Tears by Johnson & Johnson.
“Little cock blocker,” my husband muttered before rolling over and going to sleep.
This co-sleeping wasn’t a nightly occurrence. Most nights, the twins slept in their nursery. Bun-Bun preferred her space but Little Man loved being in bed with us, sprawling out width-wise until Luke and I were literally falling off our respective sides of the bed. Truth be told, our guy’s occasional presence in the marital bed wasn’t really what was keeping our sex life in a slump.
Before kids, we were always a pretty passionate couple. When we first met in graduate school there was a spark. The basis of our relationship wasn’t friendship or finances or the 29 Dimensions of Compatibility. It was sexual attraction.
And then there was my job. I shied away from calling myself a “sexpert” but as a writer for Cosmo and Penthouse, I was accustomed to writing articles with titles like “Thrill Every Inch of Him,” or “Taking It Off to Turn Her On,” respectively. As the editor of Playgirl I directed nude photo shoots. I even posed naked myself for boudoir photos all in the name of hardcore…journalism. I was too sexy for Milan, New York, and Japan and no way was motherhood going to change that.
I was quick to claim exhaustion as the culprit but that was only partly true. Sure, life with twins was tiring–particularly before they started sleeping through the night. But being tired was sort of like my “honey I have a headache.” It was a cop-out. The truth was, I was so in love with my new babies, and spent so much time loving on them that it didn’t feel like there was anything left–not for Luke, and certainly not for myself.
Then there was my hubs, on the opposite end of the spectrum. Fatherhood seemed to have ramped up his desire for me. It was like suddenly he had morphed into David Duchovny on escape from a sex addiction rehab facility. Whenever he entered a room ominous baum-chicka-baum porn music played in my head. Surely, he could not find anything sexy about me with crunchy baby food in my hair, indeterminate stains on my clothes, and smelling like Desitin. Oh yes, he could.
“Come lie down with me, wife,” he would say in his deep voice. Most times I did, because I wanted sex to be like it was before kids. But while my vagina was no longer on hiatus, my libido was still waiting to make its “I’m Britney, bitch!” comeback.
But then something occurred to me. I realized that on the nights I went out to dinner or parties or concerts or had some type of intellectual stimulation beyond repeated readings of I See Colors, I was suddenly a lot more interested in sex. Maybe it had something to do with putting on those clothes that I couldn’t wear around the kids, the high heels that weren’t practical for trudging to the coffee shop for mom’s group or the red lipstick I’d abandoned in favor of Chapstick because I literally spent the entire day kissing Bun Bun’s belly and Little Man’s cheeks.
I needed to do things that made me–tell it, Shania–feel like a woman.
Other things I’ve found that have helped:
1. Giving myself alone time. Whether it’s time to write, read a book, or just open a bottle of wine, paint my nails, and watch the Bridget Jones movies, having these vestiges of my old life renews my joie de vivre.
2. Bubble baths. I find that a quick soak gives me a chance to “wash off the baby” and makes it a whole lot more likely that I’ll be into the idea of sex.
3. Not waiting ’til the last dish is put away. By the time all of our evening chores are done, I’m down for the count. Being awake during sex is pretty much a must, so we try not to put it last on the list. (This doesn’t always happen.)
4. Exercising. In addition to it helping me get back in shape and giving me body confidence, working out almost every morning means I’m more likely to be in a good mood–and thus, in the mood.
5. Doing it anyway. It’s really true–the more you do it, the more you want to do it.
6. Switching things up. At this point in our marriage, there isn’t much we haven’t tried, but on a recent date night, after having a drink at a wine bar, we happened to pass a motel on the road. “Should I pull in?” Luke asked. At first I thought he was joking.
On a cold winter night, I waited in the car while Luke negotiated the rate (hourly? daily?) with the desk clerk. When we unlocked the door to the room at this no-tell motel, I initially recoiled. It looked like a place a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie would go to hide out and count money.
“I bet someone was murdered in here. Do you think this bedspread has ever been washed? I bet it has someone else’s DNA on it.”
“Shut up,” Luke said, tossing me onto the bed.
And suddenly there it was again–that spark.