Babble

Help! I have a three-month-old, and I’m not sure how much longer I can put off sex. My husband is raring to go, but I have absolutely no interest. Unfortunately, I brought him to my postpartum checkup, where my helpful (male) OB let us know (yes, he actually looked at my husband during this part of the convo) that I should be ready any time. Then he wrote me a prescription for birth control pills to prove it. But I’m totally exhausted, totally uninspired and actually a little bit scared. Meanwhile, I think my husband finds me completely lame for not wanting to just do it already. – Put(ting It) Off

Dear Put(ting It) Off,

Though women are often given permission by their doctors to start having sex after six weeks postpartum, there’s no official word (and very little discussion about) when a woman might actually want to start having sex again. There are certainly those who want sex as soon as they can get it, but across the board, six weeks is an appallingly early deadline for expecting a woman to be ravenous with (or even vaguely prone to) desire. Just because your crotch is no longer an open wound doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly start seeing it as a source of pleasure. For many (maybe most) women, it takes a while. Getting comfy with your privates again is one part of the process, but there’s also a list of other interferences a mile long: sleep deprivation, new responsibility, lack of private time, lack of any time . . .

Husbands or lovers are often more eager to reconnoiter as soon as possible. The six-week time frame definitely rules in their favor. They may even have a sense of entitlement (much like an ex-con fresh from nine months in prison); bolstered by a competitive urge to steal back some of the devotion that has since found other outlets. And though your partner’s feelings are a part of the couple equation, rushing into the sack when your heart (and hormones) aren’t in it could end up making things more tense. Try to reassure your partner that your feelings, or lack thereof, are temporary, and that he or she will be the first to know when the urge to merge resurfaces.

I’m pregnant with my first baby and just found out it’s a boy. My midwife said we’d need to decide whether or not to circumcise, so I got online when I got back to the office and was immediately faced with all these horrific anti-circ websites, where they describe the procedure as some kind of hideous torture that will scar my baby for life. But my husband, father and all my previous boyfriends had it done and they seem okay. And my pediatrician and midwife both say it’s totally up to us and that there are equal pros and cons. So what should we do? – All Cut Up

Dear All Cut Up,

Your pediatrician and midwife are right; it is up to you. In fact, the medical community may not help you much in this area, as they have a decidedly neutral stance. The AAP has stated that circumcision is medically unnecessary, but they continue to talk about the potential benefits. There’s no overwhelming majority in the U.S. at this point (circ rates have been hovering around 60-65% for the last twenty years or so, and though they may have dropped in some areas recently, it’s not a national groundswell.) So neither decision is likely to make your son shrink from embarrassment in the locker room.

The pros and cons are complicated, and yes, unbiased information on circumcision is hard to come by. Unfortunately, some harsh words get tossed around on those websites. Words like “mutilation” (for circumcision) and “unclean” (for not circumcising) may help cement a decision, but they are more often an upsetting distraction. You and your husband need to think about what feels right to you. Though sometimes difficult, making a decision about circumcision can be an opportunity for some productive, even philosophical conversations involving everything from religion to science to maternal instincts to oral sex. It can even create a useful template for future discussions about parenting. Good luck with your choice. And stay away from the extremist websites!

My friend’s kids, four and three, are completely out of control. They hit and bite and she just totally doesn’t rein them in at all. I don’t want my two-year-old around them because I’m afraid he’ll pick up bad habits. But I don’t want to have to confront my friend, or stop hanging out with her. What do I do? – Once Bitten

Dear Once Bitten,

The easy answer, if you don’t want to confront her, or have your kid around her kids, is to stop the playdates. See your friend in a different social context, like at a bar or a dinner party, with her kids safely tucked in and dreaming their little thug dreams. Who knows, after a few glasses of wine she might even pre-empt the need for confrontation by telling you her own fears and anxieties about her children’s behavior.

Then again, you might just have to focus on preparing your two-year-old for life in the big, bad world. You can run from rudeness, aggression and violent images, but you can’t hide. They are everywhere. Your son will witness the negative stuff, if not this weekend over an unruly brunch with your friend and her children, then soon enough. Even in the best of worlds there are difficult people and situations. We’d be lying if we said your son won’t try out some of the stuff he sees; that’s part of the learning process. Your job is to help your kid understand why it’s bad, and why your family won’t accept similar behavior. This is how kids learn that all families are different, and what’s okay for one is not okay for another. At two, this might be a little tough to explain. But if you keep at it, it will get easier as he grows.

If the roughhousing is actually threatening your own child’s well-being, your best bet is probably teaching him how to stand up for himself. The brothers may live in anarchy, but that doesn’t mean your boy has to follow suit. Teach him to respond with a firm “That hurts. Do not bite me. I don’t like it.” Using direct language to explain bad feelings is a vital skill. You may not be able to control the world, but you can teach him how to respond to it.

Have a question? Email parentaladvisory@babble.com

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