A blog about miscarriage, pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period that talks about everything no one talks about. Input WELCOME, email me at Swedishskier@gmail.com with suggestions, additions, or guest post submissions.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Male Perspective on Sex: Part II

I posted this interview with a dad. A dad. NOT MY dad. There was some confusion over that last time and while my family's pretty liberal, this is not a conversation I would have with my own father. So anyway, this is the second of this series of interviews. I'm hoping for at least one more dad to interview, but we'll see. If you know a dad or ARE a dad that would be willing to be interviewed: please let me know.

What was sex like for you when your wife was pregnant?

My wife had a lot of nausea the first half of her pregnancy, so we didn't have a lot of sex. The routine aspect of sex while trying to conceive was something I disliked, believe it or not. It took away all the spontaneity, so it was nice to have it be more like it was before trying to conceive.

What things helped your sex life during pregnancy?

We got a little more adventurous with positions during pregnancy to get around the awkwardness as she grew. Some folks said doggy style works well, but we just found it ridiculous. Scissors style was easier for her, but her on top was best. We generally do her on top now.

Were there things throughout pregnancy/childbirth which took adjusting to? What were they and what helped in the adjustment?

The emotional swings of my wife were hard. If I wasn't in the mood, she'd take it pretty hard and it would only add to the feelings that she had about getting larger, not feeling attractive, etc.

Describe your experiences with sex immediately after your wife gave birth.

We took some time before having sex again. We are generally a low-sex couple (two to four times a month) but we went for a couple of months without any. We were both too exhausted and just didn't feel very sexy.

What advice could you offer dads about sex during pregnancy?

Remember that her emotions can be dialed way up, so being tender, caring and attentive is even more critical than ever. Tell her she's beautiful all the time. Also, her breasts (which have always been her most key erogenous zone) were tender so I had to change some of my nibble habits!

After birth?
My wife is much more likely to climax after her pregnancies. I think sex is generally more enjoyable for her because of this. The milk issue was tough though. She likes a lot of breast play (I do too!) And we had to pretty much shut that down for a year or so while nursing.

What advice could you offer moms about sex during pregnancy?

Not all guys are sex maniacs, so don't be insulted when we're not into it sometimes. Be ready to discover new and improved approaches to sex as the pregnancy goes on.

After birth?

For us, sex after pregnancy (now, years after) is much better than before, largely because she's more likely to climax. We didn't expect that at all, so it was a great outcome!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I hate the I'm-sorry-for-not-posting-blah-blah-blah.

But... yeah, sorry for not posting.

I was busy sewing this for Magnus's first Christmas. But I have NOT abandoned this project and I WILL be posting more regularly. Cross my heart and hope to have another baby.
The other shit that's been going on is that I've had THREE, countem THREE procedures to repair my nanny after all this baby-having stuff. Its all been minor, but when you add stitches + stitches + stitches it equals = NO SEX and no skiing and kinda sucks. I'm thinking I'm in the home stretch now though.
Thankfully, I'm not only good at laughing at myself but good at when you all laugh at me too. I was in the parking lot today with some coworkers as they made jokes about the hole in my labia and wouldn't it be funny to string one of those wallet chains through it and have your wallet in your back pocket. There were gestures involved. GESTURES!
It was funny.
So yeah. I do intend to write about sex after childbirth. I just have to have it first. I'm sure it will be magical. Or something.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Male Perspective on Sex

There are ways that we all edit ourselves. Things we might think, but wouldn't say to our significant other. For example, my husband would never say I looked fat in anything. Nor would he tell me I looked like hell. Nor would he likely tell me the honest truth about my vagina after delivery. Especially if it looked like fat hell.

So since I wanted to find out what men think about sex during pregnancy and after birth, I went to TBK and asked her who she might know that I could interview. (Being as how she's the source for all things sex related and how nice and helpful she is by nature, I figured she'd have the answers or get them.) She got me in touch with Reverend Matt from over at www.thecollectionblog.com, to do the first of 3 interviews with men about their perspective. Reverand Matt was nice enough to allow me to interview him about the nitty gritty details of sex and pregnancy and all that stuff. He provided me with concise, open, honest answers and did so promptly too! Don't worry, I even asked him vagina questions. You're welcome. Without further ado:

What was sex like for you when your wife/partner/gf was pregnant?

In our first pregnancy it was a pretty 'normal' pregnancy. Because we went through infertility treatments at first we were a little cautious, but by the time the 2nd trimester hormones kicked in and her sex drive returned we were more comfortable. After orgasm she would get cramping, which worried us a bit but her OB said that's fine and normal and not to worry about it.

How do you think fertility treatments affected your sex life?

Fertility treatments did affect our sex life in many ways. For me personally sex became a chore. There were specific days and times we HAD to have sex and ones where we shouldn't because there was no chance of conception and we didn't want to waste anything in the days leading up to the fertile stretch. It was tremendously stressful and cause me a great deal of anxiety about sex while we were going through it. Once we successfully conceived it became much easier to deal with sex again.

What things helped your sex life during pregnancy?

Communication. Reassuring her and making her feel beautiful.

Were there things throughout pregnancy/childbirth which took adjusting to? What were they and what helped in the adjustment?

Almost everything took adjusting to. Sometimes she was more interested in being made to feel pretty, loved, secure, cared for, and sex wasn't really appealing to her. Other times she was ready and eager for it but would get morning sickness in the middle. Being understanding of moods and emotional needs and etc is critical.

Describe your experiences with sex immediately after your wife gave birth.

She had severe post partum depression, there was not really any sex to speak of for a while. Once there was again there was some adjustment as the uterus has been through some big changes and she had some tearing during delivery which was still healing and sensitive.

What advice could you offer dads about sex during pregnancy?

Listen. Be understanding, patient, and willing to take care of yourself without pressuring her if need be. Reassure her that she's beautiful and you love her and everything is going to be OK.

After birth?

Really the same advice applies.

What advice could you offer moms about sex during pregnancy?

There is limited advice I can provide women about sex during or after pregnancy except to communicate. Overcommunicate. Make sure you are being as clear as you possibly can about your wants, needs, and limits.

If your wife had a vaginal delivery, how did that change the sensation of sex for you? Visually could you tell? How did you feel about it?

The first was a vaginal delivery. It altered the layout of the whole region a bit (I would say tilted everything slightly back and maybe altered where various nerve endings etc were located). Visually it wasn't noticeable, but it was noticeably physically. I was fine with the changes, it all changes a little bit over the course of each cycle and with age/weight loss/weight gain/etc etc. It's not enough of a change to make sex more or less pleasurable. The second was a c-section which obviously didn't alter sex in any way post delivery.

Friday, December 3, 2010

When eating for two feels like being all alone

Before being pregnant, I had many friends with children. It probably happens because I love kids. I was a special education teacher for 5 years and the part that was the best about it was kids. I like all ages of kids too: toddlers, tweens, teens.

So since I have so many friends with kids, I didn't realize how isolating pregnancy can be. Until I was pregnant. And suddenly, I wasn't invited anymore. It wasn't a malicious thing on anyone's part. Its just that a lot of my friends are drinkers, and athletes. And a lot of what we do together is sports and drinking. Most times when we go out, I drink, but sometimes not. Sometimes I'm the DD or I just don't feel like it or I have one beer and call it good.

While I stayed active during pregnancy, you just can't go ski off a rock, or drink until 1 am. And so suddenly, I found myself alone a lot. Now, I like being alone. So it actually took me quite a while to notice that I hadn't been seeing people a whole lot. I'm lucky that way. And I didn't generally take it too personally. But I was pregnant and there's hormones and and and I'm not going to pretend I didn't ever feel left out.

But as I said, I like being alone. And I was busy overeating and sleeping a whole lot and enjoying doing a lot of reading so it wasn't too bad. But I'm pretty sure lots of women feel very lonely while pregnant. And you're supposed to be so happy and flowery that its hard to mention it to anyone. Especially when all people want to talk to you about is pregnancy. Then next thing you know it, all you can talk about is pregnancy and the baby babybabybaby. And you just don't feel like you; you feel like giant, all-alone you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My husband has been eating inordinate amounts of gas producing foods lately. This became obvious the night I could no longer put clothing away in my son's room because of the stink cloud that had taken over his room. My son, was unfazed and smiling adoringly at his father. So I left them to it. FYI, when you fart really loud in the kid's room and someone is in the next room, it makes the "voice" activated monitor turn on and you can hear the fart in stereo. My husband got to fist pumping over this.

I'd react or ask him to put a handle on it, but in my first trimester I was the gassiest thing alive. So there's a little shit no one tells you. Everyone tells you about the vomiting in the first trimester and most ladies hear about how tired you are, but no one mentions the insane amount of gas. If you're embarrassed about it, you should get over it by farting next to the monitor, because it really is funny.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Everyone tells you that your body releases relaxin during pregnancy in order to relax your joints so that your hips can widen for the baby to come out. Relaxin ends up in weird joints though which on me ended up popping all the time. The weirdest two places that popped: my pubus, and my sternum. Didn't hurt, just creeped me out.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Before being pregnant myself, I thought of pregnant women as beautiful. As these benevolent looking beauties, swelling with mothering floweriness. Seriously.

But sexy and beautiful are not the same thing. You can be pretty without striking thoughts of wild romps in the hay into anyone's eyes. So felt I about pregnancy.

Plus, everyone envisions pregnancy as being about the 5-6 month mark. But you don't just one day look like you swallowed a basketball. There's an awkward stage or two to get there, where you don't look pregnant, you just look fat... or something.

And during that stage of awkwardness, I was shocked the first time I felt it. My stomach touched my husband's stomach during sex.

I thought I would not have to worry about weird feelings about sex until the time when it just doesn't work well to have sex in any position but spooning (also a myth.) Either that, or the thought had occurred to me that the baby might move during sex and completely take the wind out of my sails (that luckily never happened.)

There are, of course, body images to contend with when you're pregnant. Its a weird thing to have your body take on a brand new shape. Especially when you've gotten used to the shape its in for the past 10 or 15 years and most women, let's face it, aren't completely comfortable with that shape. And I had thought of all this. Heard about this. Read about this.

But the stomachs touching. Yuck.

Here's some thoughts I have on how to continue to enjoy sex if you feel like its not going so well. There's the obvious stuff: talk to your partner and share your feelings about your body. Buy clothes/makeup/shoes/purses something that makes you feel feminine and good about you. Thrift is no excuse, thrift stores exist to solve that one. Those are the obvious things.

Shit no one tells you, you might feel better if you've seen a preggo porno.

There I said it.

Not sure about you, but I have sexy images in my head that play at times during sex. I couldn't figure out how to sit in my preggo body and participate in any mental images of what was sexy. I needed an outside image to help me along. So I watched some pornos. If it works, don't question it. It gave me a mental construct of a sexy pregnant woman.

I'm not saying my husband and I took off on porno grade sexual escapades after this. But I was able to orgasm again. I have no science to back this, but it seems intuitively true to me that you should have lots of orgasms during pregnancy. Orgasms cause your uterus to contract and it seems likely that it helps keep your uterus healthy and strong during pregnancy so that in labor it will be able to contract easily the way it should. Again, I have no science behind this, but I'd call for an orgasm a day during pregnancy and say it sure can't hurt.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We've all heard the trite, (see also played out,) jokes about women's hormones when they're pregnant. We supposedly all turned into raging psychos eating ice cream and pickles and attacking husbands with knives over nothing. And the truth is, that's not really how it happens. Yes, some women get pika during pregnancy. Pika is a rare disorder where a person craves eating non-edible foods. And it does happen. And does happen to healthy women. Rarely.

This friend of mine got it and wanted to eat handfuls of dirt and drink gasoline. Cross my heart and hope to have more babies. She didn't do these things, but she thought about it. Her baby daddy pumped the gas for that pregnancy. Smart dude, that guy.

But its rare. So are the mood swings that mean that we for no reason freak out. Mostly when we get emotional, its something that would have made us mad/sad/striken with beauty, anyways. It just might be more pronounced. As in, when I was pregnant, I started watching Grey's Anatomy. Which is trash. I knew it was trash. And if I'm really telling it all, I would be slightly touched by parts of that show when not pregnant. Which is embarrassing. But true. Because that show is completely unrealistic drama trash. But while pregnant I loved it and cried to it and held on their every trashy dramatization.

And everyone's heard these stories. What everyone maybe hasn't heard, is that after you have the baby you cry. You're shedding hormones that you've needed for 9 months and built up a stock of and your body just sheds some of them out your eye holes. Apparently. This is science. Or something.

I knew about the "baby blues" and about actual postpartum depression. Some of the reason I wanted natural childbirth (and mind you this was what I chose to do, and does not reflect what everyone should do. Each family is different and has different needs for how to do the deed,) anyways, the reason I chose natural childbirth is because I had read that you had less of a chance of having postpartum depression if you did it sans drugs.

What no one told me, was there's baby blues, there's depression, and then there's this crying that happens because your hormones are all haywire and trying to regulate themselves out. I started crying because someone was late to lunch. Seriously.

I've worked in some of the most emotionally taxing jobs that exist. I've worked with abused kids for most of the last 10 years. I don't cry because someone's late to lunch.


Its not the baby blues. Or depression. I literally look at my life at least every other day and think "someday when I look back on my life, I will think of this as the best time of my life." But there's crying.

Then, there are some women who have more than crying. They're crying, and their crying comes with the feeling of wanting to crawl under the covers and have the baby go away forever and not caring that the baby's crying or just wanting it to go away. And that's a horrible feeling. Because you're supposed to get to feel like this is the best time of your life. And when you don't, you know something's wrong. And because we're women, we feel we should be able to fix it. And when we can't, we're ashamed. We feel like we're being ungrateful for the gift of this wonderful new life. But really its hormones. And we deserve help for this sort of awful thing that's happening instead of the wonderful thing we were supposed to get. So please, get help if this happens. Don't be ashamed. You didn't do anything wrong.

And go to the village you've been building. And make sure it didn't happen there. Because we need to help a girl out when she's down. Treat her like a queen who deserves to be treated when there's a problem. Swoop in. Sweep out the shame.

And if you or she are just a little extra teary now and again, that's normal. As it turns out, its just some shit no one told me about.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Here are a few small shits no one tells you:
- Hemorrhoids are varicose veins in your ass. Also, even if you don't get them through your whole pregnancy and so you think you're in the clear, they still might happen when you give birth. I missed that one. It happened to me. See? I told you I have no shame and will not blame shit on a "friend."
-Some women have orgasms during birth. Its called a "birth climax." Its the only thing in all of pregnancy that I heard about that didn't make me think, "I should put this on a list of things to keep teenagers from having unprotected sex." I do know someone it happened to. It really does happen. And it is supposedly one hell of an orgasm. It will not happen if you have an epidural. Or, maybe it will, but you won't know that it happened because you'll be numb from the waist down.
-MOST women shit during birth. Also, giving birth can be smelly. Think period smell only more. I know, its gross. But men should have a warning about these things. Men, if you are going to have problems fucking your wife after the birth because you saw her snatch all stretched out with a bloody baby head coming out and poop being wiped away by a nurse, that is understandable. Kindly be prepared for this possibility. Consider, am I the kind of man that will picture this later at an inopportune time? Because if you are, make an adult decision to stay by your wife's head during labor and skip the view. Also, the smell. You should be prepared for the smell. All our ladies have different smells. Some are slight and some are more pungent. Such is life. And that follows with birth too. I think women with stronger smells anyway have stronger smelling births. I'd be grossed out by this if I were a dude. As it was, I was in a birthpainfuckthis trance during my son's birth so I really couldn't tell you how it was. I'm ok with that. My husband stayed by my face. He's a smart grownup like that.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The most non-superstitous of us, become cross-wielding lunatics when it comes to reproduction. We're suddenly afraid we might not be able to reproduce or think that if we tell anyone we're "trying" then we'll ruin it all. We feel its our fault, that we somehow jinxed ourselves if we tell that we're pregnant before 12,13,14 weeks if the pregnancy turns out not to be viable. Which is all nonsense. We alienate ourselves from good supports this way.

My belief is that raising children takes a village and so we have to start building our village. In order to do that, we should take apart our notions of what shouldn't be talked about.

I'm not advising that you spread your beeswax to any and everyone. I'm saying, find people you feel comfortable talking to. And start talking to them. Because here's what can happen:

You can have trouble conceiving. And that feels crappy. And it feels crappier if your girlfriend (who doesn't know you've been "trying") gets pregnant the very first month off the pill. And it feels crappier still if she's bitching about her husband wanting sex all the time when she feels like vomiting "because of the hormones" while meanwhile you and your husband are starting to feel like you're getting a reacharound from the infertility doctor every time you schedule sex.

Or none of this may happen. But keeping everything bottled up seems to make things worse. So I'm generally advising that you find friends that you can talk to. I mean really talk to. And you set shame up on the shelf for now and cultivate those relationships with all your heart. Because you all will need each other. Because even if none of this happens to you. It might happen to her.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A parable about the importance of a daily BM

The shit no one tells you is, after giving birth, the idea of taking a shit is really scary. I thought since "shit" is in the title of the blog, I might as well start with it as a topic.

So shitting after having a baby's scary. Things are sore down there and it feels like taking a shit might just turn your vagina inside out. And no one wants their vagina's insies on the outsies. Plus, pushing a baby out feels a whole lot like pushing a poop out. Same muscles. In fact, most women poop during labor. Just the way it is. And if you're scared about that, don't be. You won't care. In fact, you'll probably be much more afraid of pooping after you have the baby than during. I know I was scared. My midwife told me it would be a few days in all likelihood before I had a BM. I hoped otherwise and told her it was likely I'd poop again soon. I'm one of the lucky ones. I poop constantly. Too much info? Tough shit. That's what this blog is for.

So I have this friend...

I know when people say that sometimes they mean themselves, but I have no shame/pride so if it happened to me, I'd just tell the story.

Anyways, I have this friend who had a baby a few years ago. We'll use her now to illustrate how women are often afraid of pooping after giving birth.

baby poop fear

She had her baby in the hospital all American styles. Induction, epidural, nurses, doctors, the whole nine.

And one of the hurdles you have to hit before going home from the hospital is a successful dump. But this gal, she was afeared of letting one out. She is also a frequent pooper. A point that will further emphasize how scary the taking a poop can be shortly. That's my attempt at foreshadowing ya'll.

So she wants to go home. I think most people want out of a hospital. Its a little like jail that way. You kinda have no choice but to go in, but then you want out as quickly as possible.

Dang, I'm sidetracking the shit out of myself today. So yeah, she wants to go home. And she's all set with all the other hoops and loops and whatnots. So she just lies. She tells the nurse she already went. Here's how the conversation might have gone knowing this girl as I do.

"I pooped. Can I go home now?"
"Um, we kind of needed to see that."
"Well, its shit. I didn't think you'd want a framed picture of it so I sent it where I send all my other little turds- down the pipes. You're welcome to search them."

She can be a bit intimidating, that one. So they believed her and sent her home.

But she was scared to crap. So she held it. And held it. And held it.

One day, she finally couldn't hold it anymore. As I said, she was a frequent pooper. She had to go.

I should mention now that this day that she had to go... it was 3 weeks after having the baby. That's right, she didn't shit for 3 weeks!

So when she did. It filled the toilet. Literally. Filled.

No plunger was enough. She tried.

So when push came to filling-her-toilet-with-shit, she had to call her landlord. And explain to her landlord that the toilet was clogged. And go through the list of things she'd done to try to unclog her toilet. Then her landlord indeed agreed she would need to have a plumber come over and unclog her toilet. So she had to not only call the plumber but face his crack as he extracted 3 weeks worth of a frequent pooper's feces in order to unclog her toilet.

I hope she breastfed through the whole conversation.

The moral of the story- you tell me. I think its you better face your fears or bigger, scarier shit's gonna happen anyway.

Porky's or Why I'm Writing This

When I was a kid, my parents had this policy that you could ask anything and get an honest answer. It went hand in hand with another policy of theirs, which was you could use any word as long as you knew what it meant. They'd quiz you occasionally too, just to make sure you were paying attention.
"What's 'pissed off' mean, Karin?"
"It means perturbed."
I was a bit precocious.

My parents rarely used the parental copout/freakout/I-don't-want-to-talk-about-this card of "I'll tell you when you're older." So I probably would have learned about sex pretty early no matter what.

But as it turned out, I learned about sex from the movie Porky's.


I was 4 or 5. In 1984, movies were a big treat. You couldn't just watch pop one in the DVD player at any time. You had to see it at the theater, or you had to wait for it to come out on network television. Most mommies reading this were probably born after 1984 so I'm giving a reference to the times. Not like before TV times, (we weren't crowded around the radio listening to fireside chats, I'm not that much older than you all,) but before VCRs and DVDs.

The one exception was hotels. Hotels had pay-per-view and you could order movies. Which was exciting and fun and how my parents got my brother and I to get along for a couple of hours so they could go to dinner without us. They left us in the room with instructions that we could order a movie. We could watch whatever we wanted, EXCEPT NOT Porky's.

So, of course, we watched Porky's.

My brother and I did not often get along as kids. So when we conspired to keep this a secret from my parents, I was all in. I was NOT telling that we'd conspired to watch an R movie. I kept it a secret for quite a while. I'm not sure how long it really was. But in 5-year-old-land, it was a long time.

But then one day where-babies-come-from came up. And I said I knew where babies came from. My mom decided it was time for a quiz. This time I was not so successful in my precociousness.

"Ok, Karin. Tell me, where do babies come from. Tell me what you know."
I cried for fear of being in trouble. I wasn't. I told. Babies come from when two people take their clothes off and rub up against each other.

My mom had "the talk" with me then and there. She used proper terminology like "penis" and "vagina" and told me the whole deal.


She forgot to tell me you don't get pregnant every time. It was years before I found that part out. Which meant I was really confused as to why all these "accidents" happened.

The process of pregnancy and miscarriage and childbirth and parenting can be like that. You think you know, but then you find out something no one ever told you about. Like how most ladies poop during childbirth and how lots of ladies leak pee at the end of pregnancy. I'm happy to accept ideas for this blog along the lines of "Shit No One Tells You"