Thursday, April 10, 2008

love and marriage

In case those people that I know in real life who read my blog didn't get the memo, please check out this link for information on why I'll be traveling by train from this point on, and read no further. You can come back to finish reading about my organizational tips tomorrow.

Seriously. If I know you, look away.

If you call and tell me that you've read this post, or quote something that I've written here, so help me I will scratch you from my Christmas card list and kick you in the shins next time we meet. After I take a train to your town.

For the rest of you, those people that exist inside my computer and whom I do not know, and likely will never meet, particularly those women that have small children, please read on.

****

I eluded to writing "this" post last month, after a visit with my doctor, but I haven't for a number of reasons. One of which would happen to be the fact that I've been really sick and unable to drink wine. But guess what?

I'm feeling better now!

And look what I'm sipping on!


But the true catalyst for this post, is that today, I received an e-mail from a friend that read:

"... about breastfeeding and Doing It, which I am calling Doing It because I want to avoid the spam filter, not because I don't like to say the word. Will you nod or shake head to this question: Is it normal to be basically DEAD BELOW THE WAIST? And also above it? I don't remember having this problem [before] and that's worrying me a little. I have no interest. NO INTEREST! I would be calling the doctor already, but you made that remark that seemed encouraging about how your doctor evidently said it's normal? Blink twice for "yes, normal," once for "um, no, call the doctor."

So here we go. After I just take one more ... little ... gulp sip.

A few months ago, I read an interesting article that indicated the average married couple will have sex three times a week. The article went on to say that if a couple is having sex less than 10 times a year, they are considered sexually starved.

Now, if we were to draw a parallel between the amount of food we ate, and say, the amount of sex we have, we would have had our last meal ... let's see, how old is Henry? ... 18-months ago.

Yes.

EIGHTEEN MONTHS.

October of 2006. The seventh, to be exact.

This would be the time that my husband threw his back out so badly that he couldn't walk and my mother had to fly in to help with the children. And every time mom asked "How do you think Charlie threw his back out?" I'd blush and say "Uh, moving furniture, I guess."

And I think she asked just because she liked to see me blush, because my mother reads my blog and she knew darn well why my husband was incapacitated. And then two weeks later, after my mother left to fly home, while my children were in the midst of rotavirus, I discovered that I was expecting Henry.

And there were some very good reasons why suddenly we stopped ... eating. And although there was a lot of smiling at our house, the smiley faces on our calendar disappeared.

We had three two-year-olds in the house that vomited for almost the entire month of October. And, I was feeling exhausted because I was pregnant. And then, whoa, very soon I was starting to get really big and swollen, and although there are some women who feel sexy with their belly sticking out, I'm not one of them.

And then, there's a new baby and surgery to recover from and sleepless nights and nursing and little people affixed to my body almost every moment of every day. And then, there's Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and my gosh, if I don't watch The Daily Show, how will I know what's going on in the world?

Is it not important for me to know what is happening on this planet in which I live?!

And then it's late and I'm tired and yes, maybe if I went to bed before 11:30 every night, I'd have the energy - but I don't, and I don't - and the reason I don't is because there are little children affixed to my body almost every moment of every day and milk streams that could put out an eye and quite honestly, that little bit of time at night is the only time I have to my self and if you know what's good for you, you will keep your hands to your self.

Hallelujah. Amen.

So, when I went to go see the doctor in February for something completely unrelated to ... eating ... I very tentatively asked if it was uh, normal that my appetite was uh, dead.

And the kind doctor, nodded his head and said "Yes. It is very normal. Because when you are breastfeeding, your estrogen level dips and estrogen is what controls your sex drive. So, once you stop breastfeeding, your estrogen level will return to it's normal level and all will be well in the land of bow chica bow wow."

That certainly helped to explain a lot. But, there were other factors at play. There's the whole mental trauma that I went through before I even became a mother. Somewhere between the shots and the exams and the charting and the surgeries and the emotional roller coaster and the hormonal craziness because of the drugs that I was pumping in to my body every other month, the whole act of "love making" became intercourse for the sole purpose of creating new life. The intimacy side of our marriage took a severe beating. It was knocked down and kicked and dragged through the mud and told "Yo, go make me a sandwich, beyotch."

And then there were the romantic exchanges that consisted of "Hurry the heck up, would you already!! We have to get to the doctor's office and traffic north on the 805 will be a nightmare. Focus!! STAY FOCUSED!!!"

I'm pretty sure that in his wildest dreams, that's what every man wants to hear.

So imagine my surprise, when after trying for almost 10 years to have a baby, and after the birth of our triplets when sex was the farthest thing from my mind, shazam, I become pregnant without a team of doctors in the room or any gentle words of ... encouragement.

Little kids lead to little sex.

And sometimes, a little sex can lead to (more) little kids.

Now, many women assume that you cannot get pregnant while you are breastfeeding. But here is a little known fact: Most women do not get pregnant while they are breastfeeding because most women who are breastfeeding are not having sex. Perhaps putting a temporary kibosh on the female libido is mother nature's way of insuring that women don't have babies too closely together.

Whatever the case, I have yet to meet a breastfeeding mother who is not bordering on complete celibacy. For that matter, I have yet to meet a mother with a baby less than a year old, who if given the choice, would rather pull her small toenail off then "do it".

This isn't something that very many women openly discuss. It's a personal thing. It's private. But I love to chat with new mothers that I meet, and usually after I ask them how their baby is sleeping, I'll smile and inquire, "So, how's your love life?"

And every single time I have ever asked this question, the women will give me a look of absolute disbelief and say "OH MY GOD. It is totally DEAD."

And I suspected that they would answer this, before I even asked, which is why I asked in the first place, because I am collecting data in case I ever go back to school for my PhD, my dissertation is going to be "The effect of children on the parental sex life."

It could be hormonal. Or maybe it's sleep deprivation. Or maybe it's the physical closeness that women have with their baby (ies) everyday that renders them not willing - or able - to maintain a physical closeness with their spouse at the end of a long day. The women are physically tapped out. But for the men in these situations? The poor buggers are deprived and starved. Not just sexually, but emotionally. And seriously? That's not a good thing. Because after a certain period of time, a marriage will suffer.

So if you find yourself in this situation, what can you do about it?

Well... I'm no Doctor Ruth, but two weeks ago, people around the globe turned off their lights for an hour to recognize Earth Hour. And what started off as an hour - wound up being more than an hour, for us. Once we turned off the television and the computer and the stereo and every single light in the house, and lit candles, we focused on each other more than we have since October of 2006.

It is so easy to get distracted by life. Especially when you have young children to care for and a house to clean and a dog to feed and bills to pay and e-mail to check one last time before you go to bed.

But if you find yourself in a similarly starved situation?

Turn off the power and light candles.

Eventually, you will find your libido.

Or, at least, something that looks kinda like it.

51 comments:

  1. What an absolutely FABULOUS post and brillant as well.

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  2. I got pregnant with my fourth child while breast feeding. That was a miracle in itself since we were going through fertility with our first snd second children. But i hear ya on everything. So true. That is the last thing that I want to do when I have a few minutes of time to myself. Especially now that we are done procreating.

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  3. Jen, I read always but rarely comment but I had to on this post.. Girl, you ROCK!! I will admit that my ahem..eating.. has picked up a LOT since my 3 have gotten older (9,6,3.5).. But there are days when they two youngest have hung off me..many still..and I just want to scream that NO ONE BETTER TOUCH ME..let alone even THINK about having a meal..go make a meal yourself!! You have hands. ;) But yes, since stopping BFing, mealtime has become more regular of 2-3 times per week.. I'm hoping as the terrifying threes and Effing 4s pass, it will be more on the 3 side, and maybe even hit Dr Ozs "4 to keep him healthy" =-- HAHAHAHAHA YEAH RIGHT!

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  4. Amen sister!
    Seriously...thank you!

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  5. You are awesome. I felt the same way while breastfeeding. Then with three toddlers chasing me all day I would become irritated at anyone being within 3 feet of me. I needed space! The best thing my husband and I did was instate "Happy Quarter of an Hour" :) Every night we shut off the tv, etc. like you mentioned and have a glass of wine and talk for 15 minutes. The 15 minutes usually ends up lasting longer and I feel reconnected talking to an actual adult which so on and so forth helps with "meals". Thanks again for having such an incredible blog. I really enjoy it.

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  6. THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.
    THANK YOU.

    Love, Swistle

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  7. Sorry, I can't really relate. I am a breastfeeding mom but I think I am also a nymphomaniac. So don't mind me, I'm messed up in the head.

    I'm so glad you got to have a good, um, meal! Don't forget there's nothing wrong with a little fast food here and there, too. = )

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  8. I can't tell you thank you enough for writing that post. I hope more wives can pass it on to their husbands, as I intend to do, so they can see they are not alone.

    Again, thank you so much!

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  9. what your dr may not have told you is that low estrogen and lack of sleep aren't the only things derailing the love train... i was blessed with the perfect first baby who slept through the night immediately so fatigue was never an issue. low estrogen that causes dryness was easliy fixed by KY... so i couldn't figure out why i still had ZERO desire to eat. after a little reading, i found out that nursing releases oxytocin which is the same hormone released during eating. because this release happens so often for a nursing mom during the day, her body is not starved for that hormone and thus doesn't go seeking meals from her husband. its amazing how a little information can bring such relief - i wasn't a freak after all!! of course short of premature weaning, there wasn't anything i could except 'pass the wine!'. it doesn't totally fix the problem, but gosh it does help. good luck!

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  10. Definitely while breastfeeding I felt NOTHING. Even now after 3 1/2 years it still takes alot to get me going, but I try to give it the ol team try at least 2-4 times a month. Just with everything going on and the massive amount of work, homework, daycare work, housework, etc I just want to be left alone!

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  11. Feast and famine.
    I remember the "times of famine" while I was breast feeding.

    Now I am perimenopausal and also worried about whether my teenage son will be home by curfew - so again, sometimes famine.

    But, after 21 years of marriage, there are still plenty of "feasts."
    Because our kids are gone so much doing what teenagers do, we get to do what...um...non-dieters do. So yes, there are evenings, we'll say "Uh, kids do both of you happen to have plans this evening...?" And then silently add in our heads "'cause we totally wanna do it."

    Thanks for your honesty.

    Things will improve as your kids grow up and you begin to get yourself back.

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  12. What a great post. Came here via Swistle.

    I just wish I could blame breastfeeding for my lack of "appetite." I stopped nursing 10 months ago and while I have interest, it just seems like stress and life and exhaustion get in the way. But I like the idea of turning everything off and just focusing on each other.

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  13. I wish I'd known this was normal a few years ago lol. For over 3 years straight I had no sex drive because I was pregnant or nursing (and I did get pg while nursing, it happens!) and I thought there was something wrong with me. We still did it at least once a week usually, but I could have cared less lol. After I weaned #2 I suddenly had a huge leap in my drive that shocked poor hubby who told me I was wearing him out lol. It was later that I learned that I was normal for no sex drive while pg and nursing. I can't imagine going 18 months though! The longest we've gone is 4.5 weeks, which was right after I had #1.

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  14. FABULOUS post! And it completely explains why I got pregnant with #3 the SAME week #2 weaned. Sadly for my husband, that week's "meal" (along with a few sporadic "snacks" the past couple of months) will have to sustain him for the foreseeable future since I plan to nurse #3 as well.

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  15. Great post, again!

    We just hit our 6 week post-partum mark yesterday, and today's our anniversary... I'm planning on attempting to make love tonight, even though I have NO DESIRE. Good to know, I'm not the only one that could care less.

    I definitely feel as though I have an obligation to my husband to meet his needs. He does such an amazing job at meeting mine. I know that's how marriage works... but dog gone, why can't he have another need?

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  16. One of many cuzzins'!4/10/08, 9:47 AM

    BOOM, CHICKA BOOM, BOOM...

    Oh, what a relief! Thanks for letting us know that Charlie has finally been fed.

    Hee, hee, hee...

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  17. I have never been here before, but it’s pretty safe to say that I love you.

    I nursed my 1st born for what seemed like 24/7 for the 1st 8 months of his life. I weaned, we “resumed” and literally, one month later I was pregnant again. One pregnancy and several months of nursing later, we once again “resumed” but in a more careful fashion. It took until just after my daughter turned 2 to find ourselves expecting again. (I am due in August)

    My husband, while surely upset by the lack of activity, feels incredibly virile. I mean we’ve “done it” very few times in the last 5 years and we have (almost) 3 kids to show for it. He must be THE MAN!!

    I totally get what you and everyone else are saying though. You have children hanging off of you all day long. The last thing on any woman’s mind is letting her husband do the same. It’s hard to say no to the kiddos, but not at all hard to say no to the husband.

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  18. Hey Jen,

    All I can say is yes to everything you said, and I will ask (make) my hubby read this. I am no longer breastfeeding but as you said the 4 little beings hanging on me all day makes me wanna say "come near me and I'll scratch your eyes out!!" Infertility and suddenly lots of small children at once can pretty much kick your marriage in the butt.

    Cadi

    PS. I like you when you hit the sauce. Makes your blog even more spicey.

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  19. I'm here via Constance. I am breastfeeding my 2nd (and last) child and I have not had a drive since 2004. I have been BFing or pregnant since then. My DR is a natropath and told me just as much as your DR told you but one the thing my DR did for me to drive it home was order a full hormone blood panel. Not only was my estrogen low, ALL of my hormones were VERY low especially testosterone which also plays a huge part in libido apparently. She went over the blood panel with me and said she has done this for BFing moms about a dozen times because this is something she sees all.the.time. She told me to bring the results home to my husband and talk to him about it. I am not sure it made my husband feel any better about HIS situation, but it did make him "get it" and not just take my word for it. It doesn't stop his advances most evenings, but at least now he sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

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  20. I always have to laugh when people comment about not getting pregnant while breastfeeding. It's happened to me 4 times now! And this time I got pregnant with twins while nursing twins!

    I've noticed though, that my "appetite" really comes back when my cycles start up again. Once I'm ovulating, I'm "hungry" again. So I go from eating 1-3 times a week to 4-5 times. But until I start my cycles, I am pretty dead from the waist down too. And I've gotten my cycles back around a year the last 2 times. Funny enough, I usually get pregnant on the first or second cycle too. Go figure.

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  21. While I am still no more "hungry" shall we say than I was before reading this post, it is great to know I am not alone. And, I also have to say that I am impressed with the 18 months. Even with having absolutely no libido myself, I don't think my DH would ever last that long. I think about 3 months is our longest "starvation" period!!! And I love the person who suggested lots of "fast food". It's great because it's, well, FAST!!! LOL!!!

    Kelly(Houston)

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  22. Yet another reason why we cancelled our cable when the boys were six months old (they're now 3 yrs old). Amazing, the great things you do instead. Most people can't fathom life without reruns and reality shows except to say that its probably better to not watch so much--The average American adult watches 5 hrs of tv s day. Imagine what you could do with 5 more hours in a day . . . well, you don't have to imagine anymore, do you? :)

    -Deb

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  23. I love reading your blog. You're such a talented writer.

    I'm going to add your link to my blog as a fellow mama of triplets!! Hope that's ok.

    Check us out - kcbenryalynorton.blogspot.com

    Thanks for making me laugh today!! Clarissa

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  24. Thanks for the great post. I must say when you mentioned Earth Hour was two weeks ago I just knew you were going to say you were pregnant again. I couldn't scroll down fast enough to see if it was true. Anyway, thanks for the post and the "Scare" I love your blog!

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  25. I think I was afraid you were about to announce another little one too. LOL!

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  26. I have to say only you could pull this off. Whilst I am saying "ditto", my jaw is on the floor with a "no she didn't". You are truly my hero, oprah, dear abby,horoscope and more:)

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  27. Thanks so much for sharing this. It is great for me to read and I am sure (well, and have just read through) that many others feel the same way. Women don't really talk about this stuff, and so often feel isolated and alone about it. So yeah, just thanks.

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  28. I loved this post. Thank goodness someone mentioned it. Between the sleep deprivation, the breast feeding, etc I have no desire. Here's hoping that things turn around for all of us soon.

    Incidentally, I also heard that being on the pill can permanently dampen "appetites" because it screws around with your hormones. I have no idea if this is true or not, but since you can't change the past, I've decided there's nothing to do with it now.

    Anyway, GREAT post!

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  29. I don't know about that "eating 3 times a week" thing. I did a survey on my blog, and out of 120 monogamous parents, only 3 were doing it more than twice a week---and the biggest clump was at 2-3 times per MONTH.

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  30. awesome post! I will forward to my hubby too! Thanks for your honesty!

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  31. AMEN! Thank you for this post! I just had my second daughter 5 weeks ago and my hubbie is already bugging me. I just forwarded him this post to read...hopefully then he will understand how I feel :)

    I nursed my first for 13 months and rarely ate... but it picked right back up after she stopped... then I preggo with #2!

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  32. Oh, thank you, thank you!
    Kayakboy and I have been in a famine too - and I know he's been suffering a bit. Me. since I am bfing, I sort of don't care, but I know there is hope.

    I definitely will start that "15 minutes thing" especially since we eat dinner after the small one goes to bed. We could eat together and have a conversation, rather than staring at our laptops...

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  33. Well can I get a big old YIPEE for Earth Day coming up? Whatcha got planned for the next entree???? :)

    I totally had a lack of libido after the triplets and Austin too. But I gave the poor old guy a Mercy Meal. If fact, Austin is alive today because of a Mercy Meal. And if in two weeks you announce you are pregnant again, I swear I will faint dead away and I might not recover.

    I could have easily gone 18 months between getting pregnant when my triplets were 7 months old and having Austin. But I was afraid if I didn't give it up, Greg might go for "take-out". Prostitution is LEGAL HERE!

    But I'm glad to hear you are back in the saddle and Charlie isn't starving! I love when you drink wine too and you should definitely have a glass before "meals"!

    (Do you REALLY think your mom didn't read this???? You CRAZY!)

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  34. What is the difference between a Prostitute, a Girl Friend and a wife when they are having sex?
    A Prostitute says---Faster Faster
    A Girlfriend says--slower
    A wife says---Paint the room Beige
    This from Cliff
    Funny Blog.
    MOM

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  35. We will be doing this, this Saturday night. A much needed date night for us. Great read.

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  36. Wow.

    You are awesome. Guess I'll be forwarding this on to my husband!

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  37. I came over from Constance and will be adding you to my Google Reader... I very much enjoyed reading your triplet birth story and also your post about toy organization... as well as this post. :)

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  38. Oh my GOODNESS, Jen. You've got BALLS (I mean that in a good way).

    Here's the way I see it: When I was nursing my little girl, I did not enjoy sex. HOWEVER, I knew that the poor hubby has needs too and took one for the team about 2x a week. As much as I would dread it beforehand, I was always glad I did it afterwards. It really did make me feel closer to him and I knew it made him happy....so in a way, it made me happy too. Plus, once I really stopped and thought about it, in the course of a week it really didn't take up as much time as I thought.

    Oh how I love you, Jen. Your boldness is downright admirable. I really wish I DID know you in person.

    Take care...and keep EATING!

    Laura

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  39. Boy, that post sure makes me feel better!!!

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  40. This is the most honest post about "eatting" that I have read in ages! As a Mom of 4, I sometimes wonder how in the heck I actually had them- we barely had anytime for each other back then. I also breastfeed all of my babies, and if one more person touched me by the end of the day I would bite his head off, poor guy.

    But! My youngest is 4 and hubby has had a little job done and the libdo is back! It's amazing how much fun it is when you don't have to worry about getting pregnant!

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  41. THANK YOU-says this breastfeeding mom. BTW, became pregnant the 2nd time within the same month a I weaned my first!

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  42. Love it. Seriously girl you say what you mean and mean what you say. I nearly pee'ed myself while reading this.

    Nicely done.

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  43. Great post for sure. In the last six months, my husband lost his job and now I am the primary bread winner. I miss being home with our twins (2 y.o.), but one of the best things to come of the role reversal (in addition to a husband who has a "laundry system" and washes windows and is an all aroung great dad)is that I hear things like "I just don't feel like (eating)at the end of the day after having someone pawing at me all day long. He gets it, he totally gets it. Sweet mother of pearl he gets it. He still needs it, but he gets it!

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  44. hysterical!

    just had to add, whenever my Dad hears that a couple has 4 or 5 kids, he'll say, "So you didn't have a television back then?"

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  45. I'm not married, no kids and such yet... but I still found this an informative post. I'm not the type of person who is highly..driven..that way even at my young age, so I fear what will happen to me when I get to this stage. This post calms that fear a bit, it's all just normal! lol.

    Anyway, I mostly just wanted to say:

    I love your Mom. hahaha. Loved the joke she posted. LOL.

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  46. I found you via *Constance* and I couldn't agree more. This is a brilliant post and I seriously feel so much better after reading it.

    It's also been forEVAH here and I am feeling hopeful that it will pass one day.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  47. Laughing and agreeing here! I am BF'ing the fifth (15-month-old), and feel a little more normal. Since we have five, you know we are "eating", but it's slim pickin's.

    Honestly, I stay up late sometimes to avoid the issue. Sadly, I am on the computer and hope DH is already asleep! Oh, now I feel bad. Maybe tomorrow....

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  48. I think that there are some parts of a marriage that are better left between the spouses. Don't ya think?

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  49. Anon, yeah, I do think. I thought for a long time about posting such highly personal information about MY life on MY blog.

    Giving birth and raising a child is a life changing event and so many women feel embarrassed and ashamed and do not understand why their libido takes a nose dive, and are concerned that it might NEVER rebound. Some women are so embarrassed about this they can't even talk to their own doctor.

    I'm all about keeping the challenges of parenthood REAL on this blog. Sometimes, that means I share information about myself that is highly revealing - or might put me in a bad light. Fortunately my husband (aka: spouse) agreed that this particular topic is an extremely important one for the health of a marriage - and fully supported my publishing the post.

    Now, if I'd uploaded a video to You Tube, well ...

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  50. I think it would be fair to say that I love you, Jen. And great response to Anonymous, also. Truth is, even the times when I could say that I have any, uh, appetite whatsoever, it's time for me to pump, and by the time Maggie Moo and I have our romantic encounter, I'm just not in the mood for any more romancing! I call Maggie my fourth baby! I wonder if it would be any different if I had a singleton, but I bet there would just be some different excuse. :)

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  51. Thank you for writing this. At least now I know that my wanting to do it approximately never is completely normal.

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