posts tagged with 'sex'

life skills

When I was in high school I took a class called LIFE SKILLS which didn't teach me any actual skills used in life. Instead it pounded into my head one single steller piece of advice, advice that promised to protect me from all probable crisis or calamity.

If you're having sex, ALWAYS USE A CONDOM.

This entered my brain as gospel and I pitied the poor fools, UNSKILLED in LIFE, who had thrown away their futures on illness or babies. So tragically ignorant! I, on the other hand, passed the LIFE SKILLS final exam. I think by promising to always use a condom.

Actual sex, I assumed, would be a test with easy answers.

Fast forward fifteen years, the better part of them married. If my children ask me about sex now the first thing I'll say is "Well....."

If you want to have sex and conceive a child then great! Your married and it's moral and God blesses your love with a spark of life!

If you want to have sex and NOT get pregnant, then I dunno. It's complicated.

Because the truth about birth control is it's made out of trade-offs. Hormones make you sick. Lesser hormones don't work. Or the hormones that work aren't kosher once you're breastfeeding, and breastfeeding maybe works on its own but maybe not. You have a friend, okay TWO friends who got really really blessed that way, and of course it worked out because their children are the best of friends, but still and all if you want to lean towards the control end of birth control and less towards the birth end it's maybe a good idea to do something stronger.

Turns out condoms are not as exciting in person as they were in theory when sex was mysterious and naturally shrouded in something opaque.

Plus spermicide might be a neurotoxin. Which means you definitely shouldn't put it in a dish and shove it up your whoo-ha.

There are other options that are painful for just one member of the couple. Whether pregnancy and childbirth are painful for just one member of a couple remains debatable.

My brain is so tired of running in circles I asked Dan in all seriousness, "Do married woman even have a right to enjoy sex? Do we have a right to control our own fertility? Or am I just expecting too much?"

He gave me a look like, "Who are you??? And what happened to the hussy I married?"

This morning I woke up and looked at sleeping Elijah, the perfect sleeping angel with the softest skin, and I thought: Every sex act should be copulative. Anything else is heresy.

Then I got into the shower and within ten seconds there was a knock at the door.
"Mama?" said Harvey, "Can I come in the shower with you?"

Good God, I thought. The sex is so short and the angels stick around for oh so very much longer.

I saw a mother of three at the doctor's office today. 2, 4, and 6 or something thereabouts. They were all very good, and not acting up, but herding them through reception was still a major undertaking. I thought: Oh God, my life is going to get HARDER. The little one is going to one day start WALKING.

The rational part of my brain says: Wise mothers shut it down for a season. You can always have it taken out. Don't be ruled by fictitious scruples or baseless emotions.

But the part of my brain that drank too much coffee before my appointment and interprets physical pain as a moral failing being punished, that part sat on the grass after I got the IUD implanted and cried, "I am killing all my future babies!"

I wish I had better life skills.

I wish I had the skills to make tough choices and own them. To really take agency over my own life. To defend my decisions without a hint of doubt. I wish I had skills to separate reason and emotion. The only thing I can say is "Well....."


sword of Damocles

Last night I had a dream that I was hired as an assistant coach to an elite high-school figure skating team. (This is not such an odd thing to imagine on its own, if you grow up in the sort of town that breeds young girls into world-renown synchronized skaters.)

On the first day of my new position, I uncovered a frightful hazing ritual. Each new recruit, in addition to her regular publicity shots, would be photographed under a giant sword of Damocles of sorts. It was a large paper-mache penis hanging from the rafters in a corner of the dressing room. The poor girl would look up, see the veins and the pubic hair in fee-fi-fo-fum proportions, and she would shiver a bit and mutter, "Ew, gross."

In my dream this was deadly serious, but when I woke up in the morning I remembered the whole thing and had to laugh.

The sword of Damocles (for those for whom this brings up nothing more than a tune from Rocky Horror Picture Show) is a metaphor for a fear or burden that hangs constantly over one's consciousness, keeping one from enjoying the banquet of life that lies infront of him. (Greek context here.)

As an old married women, I no longer feel hanging over my head the fear of the male member. Scheduling worries perhaps, but not the bottomless teenage pit of anxiety that swirls with questions such as: What is this THING? What will it DO? How will it change my body and my personhood and my focus on making it to the national figure skating championships?

I have a different sword of Damocles now, colloquially known as a "due date." This is a day (or a very short portion of one) when everything about my current life will change. I don't know exactly how, but I imagine it will be very much like a prototypical teenage sexual experience, in that some of it will be painful and some of it will be so amazing as to defy description, and some of it will be no big deal to the extend that I'll simultaneously feel emotionally relieved and fear that I've become clinically numb from a psychological perspective.

It will definitely distract me from my synchronized skating.

It is and is not a relief to know the date when the sword will drop.


Free to love

We recently got into reading a blog called Sparkling Adventures. The family seems really cool and similar to us in many respects. They're alternative seeking Christians. They parent free range. They hate wearing shoes.

Of course, they live in a traveling bus and let their children call them by their first names, so it's not exactly like we're twinsies.

Still, I was feeling inspired by the biblical hippiness. Find community wherever you go! Screw money! Rock on! Then the other day Lauren who writes the blog dropped a bit of a bomb. Because of the freedom afforded them through their walk with God, her husband is gonna start sleeping with other people. Well, it's kind of unclear... Maybe just one person. Or maybe she's just okayed him to start looking for a person to sleep with. There are really an unfair amount of details left out of her blog post.

Now. These are not the first Christians to conclude that their liberation from sin plus their love in Christ for every man equal open hunting season for hippy booty. (Has anyone used the phrase "patchouli booty" before? They should.) We talked about this in bible study last night in fact... Why should we stand agape at an open marriage and not, say premarital sex or driving on the sabbath or wearing garments made of mixed fibers. I mean, Jesus invalidated lots of laws. Isn't where we draw the line only based on our moral relativism?

By the way, if your bible study doesn't discuss free love when you read Revelation then I feel bad for you. I'd be happy to sign on as a consultant...

But back to the topic at hand. I have often found myself defending polygamy. Polygamy solves a lot of problems... the need for extra help and companionship in chores and childbearing, the need for someone else to have sex with your husband when you're recovering from giving birth.... for 13 months. Of corse societal polygamy causes problems too, notably the need to purge a large number of boys from the fold every generation, but I then there are drawbacks to everything.

I confess, however, that sometimes I fantasize TOO MUCH about polygamy. I would just love it if someone else could jump in and solve all the challenges that being married presents. I can even concoct very loving looking orgy fantasies. But they're not really biblical. "An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife..." (Titus 1:6) I have a tough time arguing that Jesus's death invalidated laws written in the New Testament.

Dan's conclusion last night in BStudy is that whether or not free love works for the Sparkling family, blogging about it risks putting a stumbling block in front of those who are struggling with promiscuity and its negative effects. I think that's a nice counterpoint to a theology of complete freedom.

And hey, there's another lesson to be learned from this: If you want to increase loyalty in your readership base, announce something sexy on your blog. I just can't wait to hear what happens next.


When someone tells you about a dream it's like saying "Here is a story of something that didn't happen."

I had a queer dream last night. Dan and I were at a party with a few college friends, when suddenly the doors burst open and in enter a herd of beautiful people wearing nothing but thongs. "These are the models I've hired to have sex with us" says our hostess. As a pair of perfectly dimpled buttocks approaches me I announce, "Thanks, but I think I'll just watch this time. I'm fertile today."

The next moment a baby is screaming and with a jolt I see the bed clothes and the sunrise and the tiny shrieking mouth of awakeness. "That was stupid," I say to myself as I fumble for a diaper and shake away the sleepiness.

"Obviously if we were attending a swingers party we would use a condom."

It seems perhaps that nursing for two-and-a-half years has done something funny to my brain. Of course I'm firmly committed to my stance that nursing breasts are food not sex. Therefore I have no problem glimpsing a stray nipple from the row in front of me at church when someone goes to feed her baby. No more than seeing the person next to me chow down on a bagel. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but we go to a very liberal church. They allow BAGELS in the SANCTUARY!

Still, something in my subconscious tells me that my thought life would be improved with a bit of good old-fashioned 12-month weaning, and a timely end to co-sleeping, and maybe a return to my moratorium on lady Gaga videos. Seriously, they can play that on tv? what on earth? Maybe I'm getting old, but...


sex after childbirth: a user case study

Long-time readers of this blog will remember when I wrote about my half-assed diagnosis of vaginismus. After that post I didn't blog about the issue very much, not because it magically resolved itself, but because whenever I make a joke in public about our sex life my husband's eyes pop out of his head and roll across the floor. And I don't want to put him through that sort of trauma for nothing. Not unless the humor content of the post exceeds the grossness content by a factor of 2:1. I believe I have finally reached that level.

So for anyone who's had trouble getting back to sex after childbirth, or was wary about sex after pregnancy, or even outright dreaded intercourse after childbirth * let me be the first to tell you that you're not alone. Even though your friends and neighbors seem to keep getting pregnant mere days after they deliver... Even though your hair dresser reams you out for being cruel to your husband, and all the ladies in the salon chime in, and then you can never go back to get your hair cut ever again... Even though you think all the world except you is having fantastic mind-blowing sex every time their babies take a nap, while and all you and your husband do is go into separate rooms and surf the internet... Even so, it's okay. It's normal!

It's even expected! What to Expect says that most moms aren't up for sex during the post-partum period. Scanning their article, it appears that the factors are stacked against us: Lack of sleep, hormones for breast-feeding, soreness after delivery... wait what? How long are they talking about waiting here? Oh... SIX WEEKS??? Where's the entry for "I haven't had sex in seven months and there are climbing vines growing over the entrance to my secret garden?"

I typed that string into google, but it came back with zero results. So okay, I haven't had sex in eight months. I guess I am totally alone.

What happened is this. First the midwife suggested that my complaint of unbearable pain with intercourse was a symptom of vaginismus, a disease that may or may not be made up, with the only symptom being pain with intercourse. Which actually makes the picture seem more rosy than it is. After all, I had pain with childbirth but the kid still got out into the air okay. Sex, on the other hand, is completely non-starter for us these days. Dan so much as looks at me lustily and I start sobbing in anticipation. But I'm getting ahead of the story, because it turns out that this possibly made up frigidity disease? I don't actually have it.

You see, after going to the gynecologist for an exam, the doctor decided that I don't actually have vaginismus, but a lack of estrogen due to breast-feeding. She proscribed a topical estrogen cream (which didn't work) and also said the situation might improve when the baby started solid foods (it didn't). Then she said to come back in a month if the matter didn't "clear up," but she cancelled that follow-up appointment because her son was sick that day. Really I think she was so jazzed up with her estrogen cream that she called in sick so her husband and her could do it all afternoon in the car. But that's just my opinion.

If I was the kind of person who liked doctors (or at least didn't harbor a pathological fear of them) I would have called to reschedule the appointment, and I even dialed half the number a few times, but I couldn't think of what to say to the receptionist.
"Hi I'd like to make an appointment with Dr. Jones."
"Okay, what's the appointment about."
"Um, er, I haven't had sex in eight months."

I don't know whether the receptionist would gasp and say "egads!" or roll her eyes and say "so?" Maybe depends on the last time she had a little date time with her husband in the car.

For the record, I wasn't always so frigid. See this post about the full-page spread I got in my high school yearbook.** Plus, I know people who are frigid, and they don't make scarves embroidered with porn (NSFW, unless you work for ETSY's underground cousin SKETCHSY). So when the doctor told me in that first appointment that "it could be you just don't want to have sex right now" I was all, whaaaa? Meeee? I'm all about the liking sex. Insert dirty joke here!

But then secretly in my brain I'm all, sex makes owies and yelling things. Let's just lie in bed and read separate issues of the Economist.

So here I am at a standstill. Do I wait until the baby is weaned to see if my normal hormones kick in again? Do I visit a (gasp) therapist to talk about my newfound feelings of complete and absolute terror of intimacy? Do I start the search process for a second wife for our marriage? (Note: must have income and be willing to sleep in the basement.) Or do I just act like it doesn't matter, many people have sexless marriages, look at the Clintons. I don't know folks. I don't know.

*Hi google searchers! This blog is funny! Please stay!
** But that was the ONLY sort of spread I did in High School! Don't get to thinking otherwise.


Starts with a dirty word and rhymes with Christmas

Today my midwife came over to give me an exam and talk about the whole not-being-able-to-have-sex condition that I may have previously mentioned on this website. It's gotten to the point where we've tried it enough times to rule out a run-of-the-mill case of postpartum frigidity. We've worked with all the usual advice, and trust me; it's not a question of interest or patience or position or lubrication. No, my pussy's just broken. I had this exam today to determine how broken. And the answer is? broken. With something called Vaginismus. Don't be surprised if you have absolutely no idea; they're not advertising on TV this month. Instead, I'll quote from the wikepedia entry:

"Vaginismus... affects a woman's ability to engage in any form of vaginal penetration... the result of a conditioned reflex of the pubococcygeus muscle... which makes any kind of vaginal penetration — including sexual intercourse — either painful or impossible."

I'll highlight two words from that description: PENETRATION and IMPOSSIBLE. I'll say that again for effect: IMPOSSIBLE! Like the way a pig can't fly or you can't re-freeze melted icecream. Not gonna happen - Impossible. There's something so incredibly relieving in that word. Like It's not actually my fault. It's a real medical condition.

To use a well known phrase, you can't put a square peg into a something something something my snatch is wired shut.

Of course, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't just getting a trumped up diagnosis of "your junk is nuts" so I asked my midwife, "Is this a real thing? This isn't like restless leg syndrome, is it?" But she assured me that yes this is a very real medical condition, something that doesn't affect very many people, but still if I start treating it right away we may be able to have sex in two months, but if I wait to see if it resolves on its own I could still be waiting a year from now.

And I'm all, no two months is long enough, thank you. No need to get too extreme with the "y" word. Don't need to be throwing "a year" around. I'll do whatever it takes; what can I swallow, inject, or apply in gentle salves?

Well, it turns our there are various therapies for vaginismus, including Cortisone shots to the affected area, topical numbing creams, or even Botox. OMG, slow down, too many jokes! A Cortisone shot to the twat would make me feel like a professional athlete in the "doin' it" league. Hmm, a topical numbing cream... that should make sex feel AWESOME! Botox Botox Botox... I have always been concerned with the wrinkly appearance of my intimate area... will the injections return my lady parts to a teenage level of youth and vigor?

Not that this is a laughing matter... the pursuit of a healthy sex life now suddenly involves needles and that's really not the kind of thing I'm into. But no decisions quite yet. For now I have to wait a week to get a second opinion from a local gynocologist who would be the person to prescribe or administer such therapies. And it's got to be drugs, because the other option is a rigorous course of physical therapy, which I can tell you right now that I will never do. Seriously, I can barely force myself to do ten crunches after a workout. Can you imagine me washing up at the end of a long day of work and saying, "Wait, before I go to bed let me stick my fingers in my vagina for five minutes to increase dilation." No, I'd rather bring on the numb sex!


getting by with a little help from our new friends

A few weeks ago Dan and I decided to up our number of weekly social commitments by adding a Friday night church group into the mix. I know, I know... fast times. We're trying not to let all the popularity go to our heads.

This church group is a Vineyard SmallGroup, pronounced with the emphasis on the first sylable as if it wasn't a modifier. You gotta say it as if it's all one word. The proper pronunciation is very important if you want to fit in with the evangelical crowd, so we don't want to get it wrong. Anyway, we've been spending more time at the Cambridge Vineyard church lately, on account of the rockin worship music and free bagels. So we thought we'd take the plunge and get to know some of the folks on a more regular basis. This particular SmallGroup is less intellectual and more pray-y than our normal bible study, which is fun just for a change of pace. And it's family friendly with a rotating baby sitting role, which will be helpful if I ever decide to let Harvey out of my sight for an hour.

This Friday Dan and I volunteered for kid patrol. We had a lot of fun playing with two kids who were there and with an incredible variety of brand-specific Mr. Potato Head attire. Note: it's very important not to mix the Star Wars feet attachments with Red Sox arms attachments if you're 4. Meanwhile the rest of the group watched the documentary film Finger of God, a film about miracles.

I had already seen the movie (indeed we own it) so I didn't mind missing the replay. Still, I was bummed to miss out on adult group time, so you can imagine my excitement when the kids' mom came in to get them ready for bed and told me I could join the group for the last 10 minutes of discussion. Of course it's a bit of a weird dynamic, jumping into a meeting already in session. I hadn't even introduced myself to all the people there, and when I came in they were debriefing the film, so I just plunked down in a chair by the door. The folks were talking about the types of miraculous healings in the movie, and wondering if it would be too much of a leap of faith for us regular people to try to do this stuff. Then the leader of the SmallGroup says, "So why don't we try this sort of thing out here, just to try something on a small scale. Does anyone here have some physical aliment that we could try to pray for?"

I waited a beat, and then another. Another few seconds went by as everybody looked around at each other. No one piped up. So from the back of the room I dove right in. "I've got something - I don't know if it's the kind of thing we want to pray for - but I hurt myself giving birth and I now can't have sex anymore."

Now normally I would have asked Dan permission to bring up such a topic in mixed company, mixed meaning that we don't even know half the people there. But he was still in the other room helping with the kids, and this issue has been sort of consuming my thoughts for the past month, and I can't abide a group silence, and also? Maybe I'm a little nuts. Because my brain is drowning in not-used-up sex hormones. Yeah, I think that's the way that works.

Anyway, these dear willing strangers had me sit in the middle of the circle while they all prayed for the restoration of my lady parts. Seriously and earnestly. Because that's what they're like at the Vineyard church - you should go! And let me tell you guys, my embarrassment over the whole situation was seriously counter-balanced by the fact that I could feel it working. Although, I did get a bit red in the face when Dan walked into the room a few minutes later. I couldn't see his face because I was turned facing away from him, but it was immediately apparent what everyone was praying for. And my poor long-suffering husband, I didn't hear him snicker or anything, but in my head I imagined him realizing turning a shade of purple.

As of right now this is more of a story about my embarrassing forthrightness than it is about a miraculous healing, because at the moment who's to know; the latter has not yet been scientifically tested. This was only last night, after all! And we got in late! But if we do manage a successful sexual encounter in the next few weeks I will consider it nothing less than an act of God.


about the previous post...

It's not just me. According to a new book, all women are apparently completely batshit crazy when it comes to sex.

I'm too lazy to read a book, so here are the highlights from CNN's article:

It turns out that women's reasons for having sex range from love to pure pleasure to a sense of duty to curiosity to curing a headache.

A 26-year-old heterosexual woman wrote, "When I was single, I had sex for my own personal pleasure. Now that I am married, I have sex to please my husband. My own pleasure doesn't seem as important as his."

A looooong blog post, befitting of the size of my husband's endowment which is also herein mentioned

I just learned this morning from my in-house gossip mill (that would be Judy taking phone calls while rocking the baby and then me screaming up the stairs: WHO WAS THAT? WHAT DID THEY SAY? TALK TO ME I'M DESPERATE FOR HUMAN CONTACT!!!) I learned that an acquaintance couple of ours is pregnant with their second set of twins, and with two singletons in between that brings their family up to 6 kids God willing and the crick don't rise. It's funny that I got this piece of gossip this morning, because I had just been thinking about them, thinking about their 4 kids under 5 years old, and I was wondering: How do they do it? How do they do - not the baby raising part, or the constant pregnancies, or even the financial piece. But the sex part. How do they do it? Like, at the end of the day do all those kids actually go to sleep? at the same time? and then the parents look at each other and go, "Hey, I've got a good idea..."

I know that this topic teeters on the border of inappropriate for this blog, since I know that DESPITE NO ACTION IN THE COMMENTS we are still widely read amongst our friends and family. So whenever I think of writing a blog post about sex, my initial reaction is to shut my mouth about it. (HA HA! No, seriously Leah, that's your problem!) But forreal, I would never want to give the impression that my perfect husband is anything less than a virtuoso in the love department, possessing of skills only hinted at in Harlequin romances, and ever so well endowed, and so forth. All these things obviously go without saying. Unfortunately, my perfect husband is currently cursed with an epic fail of a wife, at least in the love department. Even counting the brownie points that the recent production of an heir should award me... it's not going well. And that's why I absolutely have to write about it on the blog, because I'm desperate for validation. I just want one person to comment and tell me that it's okay. ONE PERSON, even a fake anonymous person, to say, yeah, we waited a year before having sex again. Sex isn't all it's cracked up to be. Many people go through sexless times in their marriage. Look at the Clintons. They're very accomplished.

You'd think that with my mind so continually tortured by failing marriage 101, that I would, I dunno, be able to buck up and force myself to perform at least one time in these 3+ months. But the thing about having a baby is that everything is so much work, and if you skip on having sex it's not like skipping on the laundry or the dog walking or a poopy diaper... the world continues to function after a fashion. So we'll be driving home from a party where I got adventurous and had ONE LIGHT BEER and I'll be thinking to myself in my half-buzzed state: Hey, I'm not shuddering at the thought of human contact... Maybe tonight's the night! But then we get in the house and change the baby, and the smell of wet poop is kind of a buzz-kill. And then I feed the baby, and he falls asleep in the middle of the bed, so if there's any chance of being intimate then there has to be a concerted decision to lift him up and put him into the co-sleeper, and that practically screams DESPERATE. And anyway, I'm not feeling so sexy anymore holding a burp cloth over my leaky boob.

So yes, we never have sex. And on the off chance that we try, I just can't get any into it. I'm so focused on getting it accomplished, getting it over and done, that I just can't make it happen at all, especially with my over wonderful, caring, respectful and loving husband who says feminist things like, "Um, do you even want to have sex? Because we could be doing something else."

And in reply I'm all: "For the first time in weeks the baby's sleeping and not in the middle of the bed! THERE'S NO OTHER TIME!"

Which doesn't really answer the question. Do I want to be having sex? No, not really, but I want to want to, and I want to not have it hanging over my head anymore. Which is maybe my problem, because I used to do things because I wanted to do things, not because I fear that if I don't consider it a mandatory priority it will fall into the bin of never ever happening which looks like a bottomless pit of life that is never coming back to me again. For everything. So like, Dan will say "Do you want to go to the gym?" And I'm all, "Want to go to the gym? I HAVE TO GO TO THE GYM! If I don't go, I'll stay disgustingly fat and in 5 years I'll be tottering around in a size 16 muumuu saying 'the baby weight! the baby weight! It's so hard to lose the baby weight!' and everyone will be whispering around me 'what is she talking about baby weight? She only ever had one baby and then she never had sex again!"

Anyway, I apologize for making my friends and family slog through 6 paragraphs of trying not to picture me and Dan having sex, but I do feel better airing out our non-dirty laundry out on the internet. Because there's got to be someone else, some sexy and attractive young mother like me who also went through a period of frigidity and didn't end up murdering her marriage because of it. And if not, it'll be a nice added dimension to all our social engagements when we walk in the room and our friends go "Hey guys! How's the not having sex going?" Answer: about as well as not sleeping, but we're getting through it.


construction delays

Today we were out chatting with our neighbor about her new baby and her 18-month-old, and suddenly something came to me, a realization, as swift as a bolt of lightening. My poor neighbor, who I pitied over her schedule c-section and 6-week- convalescence, she is one up on me in one important regard. Can you guess. CAN YOU GUESS?????

As soon as she can walk, she can have sex.

Me? I don't think my big dig is going to be finished in time for Irish twins.