"What do you plan to do for birth control?" my midwife asked. It was my six-week postpartum checkup, and she had just pronounced that it was safe for me to have sex.
"Birth control?" I said, like she was speaking a foreign language. I was hormonal and emotionally fragile after a difficult birth, and now I was nursing a newborn. I was thinking about having sex again the same way I was planning to lose my baby weight—sometime in the future, but certainly not right now. "There's a pill that's safe to take when you're breast-feeding," she told me, and scribbled down the name. I stuck it in my wallet, just like I once took guys' numbers knowing I'd never call.
In part because I felt like we were supposed to get back in the saddle, my husband and I tried having sex a few days later (with a condom). Even though I'd had a C-section, intercourse was surprisingly painful and, despite the two glasses of mood-setting chardonnay I drank beforehand, not at all romantic. After 15 minutes we decided to give up, and it was another few weeks before I was ready to go all the way again. Parenthood (which is, uh, caused by sex) often leads to a sexual drought that seems strangely taboo for women to talk about. Pain, lack of desire... I've noticed that friends clam up about it all, even after being totally open about every TMI detail of pregnancy. No one has written What to Expect When You're No Longer Expecting But Your Husband Expects to Have Sex and the Sex Isn't What You Were Expecting. Yet ...