YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

VICKIE IOVINE / Girlfriends' Guide to Family

It Takes a While After Baby Arrives to Get Your Groove Back

April 25, 1999|VICKIE IOVINE

Every Sunday, author and columnist Vicki Iovine will use her patented "Girlfriends' Guide" approach to chat about family, parenting and relationships:


Dear Vicki: My husband and I had a beautiful baby boy seven months ago, and, although I've had sex with my very understanding mate a couple of times in the last three months, I can honestly say that I'd rather have a root canal than an orgasm. What's the matter with me?


Dear Boom: Your dry spell may be depressing as heck, but it's as normal as many of the other delightful biological experiences Mother Nature hands out to us gals.

If it makes you feel any better, a recent survey by Child magazine showed that almost no one is having sex the first year postpartum, and, if they are, they're loving it less.

Makes sense in a funny way: If we were perpetually amorous, we'd be having babies every nine months and tempted to neglect the predecessors (and losing our minds in the process). If the fatigue doesn't kill you, the soreness, utter confusion and tummy the consistency of a rising loaf of bread are sure to puncture your libido like a balloon.

Men tend to weather the storm better than we do, but they're not immune to the sexual funk. They too are exhausted, they too are overwhelmed and, yes, they've probably gotten a good look at your loaf of bread.

Take advantage of this empathy before it's a distant memory and talk about your competing desires (a) to never to be touched below the waist again and (b) to quickly recapture your former babedom.

But here's the bottom line as far as my friends are concerned: Your sexuality needs to be exercised even more than your abs. You are not just somebody's mother; you are somebody's lover and a person with a body that offers more than a place for a toddler to wipe her nose.

The goal here is to stay happily married long after your kids have ceased to acknowledge your existence. Even if you start by pretending to enjoy it, that's OK; that silly smile pasted on your face will be the real McCoy soon enough.


Dear Vicki: I've been told I may not be able to have children. Of course, the most common first question in social conversation is, "Are you and your husband going to have a family?" Is there a good way to let people know we'd rather not discuss it without inviting even more speculation?


Dear Mixed: Parenting is a lot like religion--people who have "seen the light" of childbearing like to spread the word. (Same thing happens with marriage--married people can hardly stand to know single people without trying to match them up.) Happy as I am with my own choices, I still can't help but suspect that lots of this preaching is really for our own reassurance.

There also seems to be something compelling about reproduction that makes people who won't even tell you their age feel free to ask about your biological intentions. Perhaps the art of conversation really is lost and some folks just don't know what else to say for small talk.

My suggested answer is: "We already are a family, and loving every minute of it, thank you." If, however, you ever find yourself fretting about your fertility, remember: There's nothing like a good girlfriend to open up to.


Dear Vicki: Did you read about that widow who used in vitro to get pregnant with her late husband's sperm--years after he died? Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong?


Dear Birdy: As a woman who couldn't get pregnant for 3 1/2 years and then found success only with the help of crazy-making drugs and countless trips speeding to the doctor with a certain unnamed person's vital fluids in a specimen cup, I have a lot of compassion for people who get pregnant through extraordinary methods.

Sure, my husband was alive and allied with me in my efforts, but that still may not be a big enough distinction to justify any righteous indignation on my part. Who's to say that I was "intended" to have my four babies? All I can tell you is that the world is a better place for knowing them.

I certainly get your point, and what with all the genetic engineering in today's news, it does seem a tad "Brave New World" to me, too.

I guess age and experience have taught me one true thing: It's generally a better idea to support people in choices they've already made than to criticize their decision-making process.


Vicki Iovine is the harried author of the "Girlfriends' Guide," a columnist for Child magazine, and mother of four. Write to her at Girlfriends, Southern California Living, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053; e-mail Please include your name and phone number. Questions cannot be answered individually.

Your Turn

* For another take on those perennial family questions--answered by parents themselves--see Parental Guidance in Monday's Southern California Living.

Los Angeles Times Articles