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Sex After the Baby

My wife and I have an energy crisis. After we put our girls to bed for the night, it's as if our life force has been sucked out through the ventilation system. Dishes that were going to be washed sit in the kitchen sink overnight. Baby toys that were going to be put away litter the carpet and hallway. But the room we really need to keep up is our bedroom. My wife and I haven't had sex in...in, well, some time.

Not that I want to air our dirty laundry  -- though we have much of that, too, overstuffed in hampers -- but my wife and I have gone weeks without doing the deed. Okay, if you must know, months. Many, many...

You get the idea. It wasn't always this way. Before our firstborn, my wife and I had energy. In fact, we had lots of energy. Yeah, we had energy all the time. We even had energy in the kitchen once. But after Isabelle, who is now almost 3, we slowed down the pace. After Lorelei, who is now 8 months old, sex practically became a four-letter word.

And I have to take equal blame for this quagmire, as much as my male pride would like to pin it on my wife. There's a code we men follow that says we should always have enough energy for sex. Even if one fine day I were attacked by a bear, run over by a monster truck, and then pushed down a mountain, breaking both legs and an arm, I should still have the stamina to offer my wife a quickie just before being wheeled into surgery.

But I submit to the jury that nothing -- not even being attacked by a bear -- compares to the exertion of parenting young children. For me, the exhaustion begins after work. My mental strength is already sapped, and within seconds of my arrival, Isabelle insists on playing chase. I always do, but nowadays, to give equal attention to our kids, I'm grabbing Lorelei and carrying her as I'm in hot pursuit of my preschooler. It isn't long before I'm on the floor with my daughters crawling all over me, like wolves softening up their prey. And those are the fun evenings. Other nights, the home front is like a psych ward. Isabelle is screaming because we won't let her eat uncooked macaroni. Lorelei is wailing. The dog is howling. And I'm curled up in a corner, batting my hands at imaginary flies.

My wife used to tell me about how her friends, who were married with young children, weren't doing it. We would laugh heartily and be glad we weren't them. Now, we are them. And I'm sure they're laughing at us. That's why we're finally talking about how we aren't doing it, instead of letting each evening wither away, pretending that we haven't noticed. We've even scheduled evenings solely devoted to making amends in the bedroom. But things keep going awry. One night, for example, I tried to get my wife in the mood by massaging her feet. I did such a masterful job in relaxing her, though, that by the time my fingers moved to her metatarsals, she was snoring.

I used to think people who had sex in unusual locations -- on dining room tables and in airplane bathrooms  -- were thrill-seekers. But now I know better. Those couples are actually desperate, sleep-deprived parents, afraid of the lure of the mattress. They know that if they try to do it anywhere near the bedroom, they'll fall asleep.

Geoff Williams is a Babytalk contributing editor living in Loveland, Ohio.

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