Back in the days when I was young and free I happened to also be sexually exuberant.
At least, in my thoughts I was.
One of the juiciest fantasies I liked to indulge in was that of going to bed with two men. First it was a fantasy, then it became an itch, then I actually made a pact with myself that, as soon as a decent occasion would show up, I’d put aside any little-girl hesitation and dig out the cojones to actually go for it.
I didn’t exactly want to put an ad on the local newspaper or stand at the entrance of the department store handing out fliers. But assume that there were a party and that I were tipsy enough, and assume that I’d be having a nice and sexy conversation with this one guy who also happened to be there with his best friend and assume that, when the evening would start winding down, one of them would offer: Why don’t we escort you home and maybe have a night cap…or two?
Well, in that case I would have known exactly how to respond. And so with renewed confidence in my potential for naughty and at peace with my desires, I sat back and waited for this extraordinary combination of circumstances to come my way.
This is the story of how it happened.
Back in the days when I was still mildly pregnant, I knew everything about parenting. I read one book and three blog articles and had all my priorities neatly lined up and no doubt left about what were the best choices to install in our future little family. One of the things I was completely sure was that we would not do any of that co-sleeping or, God forbid, bed-sharing nonsense. No. That shit is for hippies.
Two summers ago, I am five months pregnant. I’m lying on the couch with my feet up talking on the phone with My Friend The Writer who lives in Paris and has an 11-months-old baby.
She: “It’s been a bit rough lately cause Jean-Pierre is sick and he sneezes constantly at night and the baby can’t sleep which means that I can’t sleep either.”
Me: “What do you mean the baby can’t sleep? Is she not in her room? Does he sneeze that hard?”
Me: “Oh no. Don’t tell me… really!? She’s in bed with you? Why on Earth!?”
She: “I don’t know, she just is. It started when she was really small and nursing every 10 minutes at night; it was so much easier to have her with us, you know. And then we got used to it and months just went by and when it was winter it was also nicer to be all together in one bed, warmer, and now we’re kind of stuck because she doesn’t wanna go back to her crib, she just screams her head off. It’s heartbreaking.”
I do not comment (I’m polite) but inside I laugh out loud thinking what radically better choices my partner and I will make. Cause we’re so enlightened. Cause we’ve read that one book.
It’s November, I’m eight months pregnant. My belly is big but not so huge as to make me feel un-sexy. Almost everything is ready: the nursery is set up, the crib, the changing table, all micro-clothes are washed and nicely folded in the baby-wardrobe, the hospital bag is packed. One of the last things we do: we attend a birth course.
It’s the course’s last session, we are talking about how to prepare for what comes after the birth. Four pregnant couples in the room.
Birth Coach: “Is there anything that you already know you are completely against, when it comes to life with Baby?”
My hand shoots up.
Me: “Yes! Co-sleeping!”
Birth Coach: “Okay. Would you like to share the reasons with the rest of us?”
Me: “The reasons are very numerous. First of all, The Baby is the baby and we are The Parents, it’s crucial to keep these two notions separate. Secondly, we find it’s very important that The Baby learns from the very beginning to be independent and self-sufficient, so that his concept of identity doesn’t get entangled with ours. Further, co-sleeping and especially bed-sharing are very dangerous: you can roll over your baby in your sleep and suffocate her. Last but definitely not least, we do treasure and cherish our privacy, we like to sleep naked and cuddle, read ’till late or watch sexy movies on our smartphones before falling asleep and all of the above are activities not suitable for newborns.”
No one dares to counter that.
It’s January, it’s the middle of the night. My newborn child is not yet two weeks old, he is crying softly in his crib while I stand in the kitchen, shivering, yawning, waiting for the kettle to boil. I just finished feeding him (40 minutes on an armchair in the dark, wrapped in two blankets) and when I laid him back in his crib I realized the hot water bottle had become lukewarm. So I set out to heat it back up and while I’m doing so I don’t seem to be able to dismiss this feeling that something is really quite wrong in all this. Why, I ask myself, am I wrapping my little baby in three layers of clothes and a cap, condemning him to being away from me and in the sole company of a stainless-steel hot bottle, when all he needs in the world is his Mama’s body heat and the smell of her skin? Why?
Because he needs to learn about being independent, self-sufficient and polite? What kind of imbecile can expect that from a baby so tiny it doesn’t even have eyelashes yet? Because his Mama wants to sleep in peace? Well, she can’t anyway for her heart breaks at the sound of his cries and her hormones are all over the place and her tits leak milk to the point she has to sleep on two bath towels. Because Papa and Mama need to protect their intimacy and do sexy things after his bedtime? Well that would make her laugh her ass off like never before, if she wasn’t afraid the stitches would burst open making what’s left of her uterus fall out of what used to be her birth canal. Sexy things!? Hysterical.
Finally the “F*ck This Sh*t” switch clicks in my head, I lose the kettle, go to the nursery, pick up my Very Little Man from his big bad crib and bring him to bed with us. That’s it: no more boiling water, no more nursing in the living room in the middle of the night, no more pointless distance. Our son never slept one more night away from us.
It’s the beginning of the summer, he is five months old. I sit at the kitchen table nursing him and talking over Skype with My Friend The Painter who is childless. My Little Man keeps interrupting our conversation by scratching my nose and trying to bite my nipple off with his bare gums.
She: “What is it with him today? He seems to be a bit grumpy, no?”
Me: “Yeah I know. It’s because he didn’t sleep too well. Papa has this bad cough that wakes him up constantly…”
She: “Hang on, what do you mean? Is he not in his room? Does he cough that hard?”
At this point I could have submerged my friend with 20 minutes of uninterrupted reasons. Because, by this time, I had read another five books and 200 blog posts and medical studies and scientific articles. I could have told her all about how co-sleeping is crucial in the first days of a newborn’s life to regulate his breathing, heartbeat and other physiological functions. About how sleeping next to the mother is for a baby the best way to feel safe, accepted, avoid any build-up of stress hormone and how ultimately co-sleeping is an excellent way to promote independence and build a relationship of trust between parents and child. I could have told her all this and more, but I didn’t. Because this is not the real reason why we never tried to put our son back into his crib, no.
It’s because… We. Love. It.
And so this, my boys and girls, is a parable which wants to illustrate how, in life, all prayers sooner or later are answered. Only, it’s quite hard to predict how.
I always wanted to sleep with two men. Well, however you look at it, now I do.
Author: Marta Parlatore
Apprentice Editor: Aisling McAteer/Editor: Travis May
Image: Provided by Author