Before taking our newborn home from the hospital, there is an information session for new parents. The head nurse of Labor & Delivery — a petit woman in her early forties — speaks directly to the mothers, though some information is clearly aimed at fathers as well.
“Ladies, for six weeks, nothing goes in your box.” In case we are fuzzy on the definition of nothing, she rattles off a list of things that could reasonably be placed in one’s box. “No penis, no tampon, no douche, nothing. I mean it.”
“Sleep!” she follows with misplaced enthusiasm. “This is where dad’s ears perk up, right?” I don’t correct her, but to paraphrase Renee Zellweger in the climactic scene of Jerry Maguire, she had me at “nothing goes in your box.”
Six weeks is enough time to draft a novel, lose three pants sizes, or learn the foundation of a foreign language. I suspect it will also be enough time to go batshit when denied my favorite recreational outlet.
Week 1. My wife had a C-section, so most of our first week is spent in the hospital. The image of my son being pulled from a gaping whole in my wife’s stomach is burned in my mind. A miracle, yes, but not a turn-on. Sleeping on the couch in our cold hospital room is like sleeping on a pile of rocks in a walk-in freezer. So, I’d say we’ve both been emotionally and physically tested, and only one of us got pain meds. One celibate week is in the books. Piece of cake.
Week 2. My wife’s pain fades and her enthusiasm and energy are back. The woman of my dreams has never looked better. Motherhood adds a unique grace to her already amazing personality. Also, her boobs are humungous and I am not allowed anywhere near them. How long has it been? Just two weeks?!
Week 3. My wife is in a wedding less than 21 days after giving birth. It’s hard to appreciate how insane that is if you haven’t been through childbirth. She spends the week thinking out loud about her appearance. “Ugh, I am so fat… Nothing fits… This is seriously the most pale I’ve ever been in my life.” She doesn’t know how sexy she is. I tell her repeatedly, but she thinks the lack of sex has made me overly complimentary. That’s not it. Her hotness is effortless. She rolls out of bed beautiful. We spend so much time in sweatpants, I actually forget how stunning she is when she is all done up. It nearly takes my breath away when I see her at the wedding.
For the next week, I find myself enamored the way I was when we started dating. We steal kisses behind corners and make out on the couch like teenagers. I wonder how long it’s been since I looked at her this way. I wonder if she feels that too.
Week 4. My wife calls me at the office. She just left a check-up with the lady parts doctor to make sure everything was healing appropriately.
“He said I can start exercising…and having sex.”
“Already? That’s…nice.” If I weren’t sitting amongst co-workers, it would have sounded more like, “Start undressing, I’m quitting this shitty job right now and I’ll home in 22 minutes.”
I don’t quit my job. I sit at my desk for another three hours, doing a pretty spectacular impression of someone not daydreaming about sex. On my drive home, my mind races despite the distribution of blood to another organ. My excitement, among other things, came back down to Earth when I remember we have two children, one of whom I need to pick up from daycare.
I walk into the house and three typically chaotic hours follow. Feed the baby, chase the toddler, change the baby, make dinner, do the dishes, build a Lego tower, feed the baby, give baths, brush teeth, change the baby, read a bedtime story, read it again, read it one more time for good measure, and feed the baby.
When both boys were finally asleep, I walk up to Summer, put my arms around her waist, and kiss her neck.
“Baby…I’m exhausted,” she says. “Do you hate me?”
Of course I don’t. I appreciate her more than ever.