Let's talk about sex

The new-mom cliche “touched out” means something different to each individual. 

For some, it’s something like, “I’m nursing twins, damn it, and if you even look at my boobs, I will find a way to muster up a pair of laser eyes … and I will burn you.” 

For others, it’s straightforward and simple: “Sleep is the only thing that’s happening in our bed. And no, that doesn’t mean I want to do it on the kitchen floor. Are you insane?” 

Even for the overachievers who “go for it” after the proverbial six-week post-birth checkup, sex after Baby is milky, self-conscious, tiring and (at least sometimes) second best to Netflix. 

Around month six or seven, something shifts. Naps become predictable. Flashbacks of whatever went down between the labor and delivery nurse and Mom’s perineum start to fade. 

And glory of all glories, the little one is sleeping AT LEAST six hours in a stretch, if not (breathless, magnificent wonder) NINE. 

Sex is back, baby! What’s more, it’s better than ever! Childbirth knocked an inhibition or two out of the way. Let the good times roll.

But then … 

You blink and Baby is 1. Blink again and she’s 2. Walking, talking, needing, climbing. Though she sleeps, she is one of few “chosen ones” who knows how to climb out of her crib the second she even considers the option. Thud. 

You’re surprisingly more tired than in the newborn days — after putting back every book on the bookshelf five times because pulling them off keeps her happy and entertained, running around the park to tire her out, making oatmeal and cutting grapes, reading 10,000 stories, wrestling with the winter clothes and gritting teeth through 15 glorious tantrums … per hour. 

One top of all that, she can find you. She’s a moving, breathing, demanding BEAST who — yes, OK — smells like love and makes you want to have a dozen more just like her. 

Sex during 'Dora'

What of the sex life, now, Toddler Parent? 

It’s one eye and two ears wide open in anticipation of being “caught,” which almost happened on that Sunday morning when you took a chance because she stayed up late watching Rudolph with Grandma. 

It’s a new experience to hide from a small child under the blanket while your husband piles pillows and blankets on his lap and stutters through, “I don’t know where Mommy is.”

“But I heawd Mommy. And she pwomised to make pancakes today…Wemember?”

Touched out takes on a whole new meaning when you’re forced to so quickly flip the switch, when the little hands touching you have been digging into food and maple syrup and the litter box and who knows what else. 

Your “sex life,” after perhaps enjoying a brief second honeymoon between super tiny baby and toddler, has become afternoon delight (without even taking off your socks or sweaters because the heating bill was high last month and besides, time is limited). 

That’s right: You’ve whittled the entire experience — from wink to foreplay to post-coital sigh — down to 23.5 minutes, the exact length of one episode of Peppa Pig, which you keep on high volume for the dual purpose of making sure you stay on schedule as well as drowning out any sounds that might bring about the question, “What’s wrong with Daddy?” 

So sexy time happens not to the dulcet tones of Marvin Gaye, but to that lunatic Dora and her creepy backpack singing, “We did it!”

All of this mood-killing nonsense can feel grim, even without the realization that SEX is what brought you here in the first place. 

Absolutely NOT ready for another one? Add that bucket of water to the already dim flame of passion. 

Tip the scales (when you can)

Is there a way to get your groove back that doesn’t involve running off to Tahiti? 

Well, keep doing it for one. 

Closeness and warmth and intimacy slip away swiftly and it can be hard to find your way back to the bedroom (or basement or shower, depending on your particular toddler-avoidance plan). So you have to try. 

When you’re truly 100 percent not in the mood for sex, don’t force it. But if you’re 50 percent Downton Abbey, 50 percent Let’s Get It On, tip in the favor of sex. 

Every time. The mood and opportunity seldom strike during these lean, mean parenting years. 

And you’ll be pregnant again in two seconds, especially if you weren’t planning on having another one. 

It’ll be time to start all over and you’ll be right back to 23.5 minutes of sock-footed get ‘er done — only now, there are TWO toddlers, who might argue over whether to watch Peppa or Dora or — wild card! — Daniel Tiger. 

So choose sex. Choose love. 


Jen Wittes lives in St. Paul and is a mother of two. Write her at jwittes@mnparent.com.