I recognise that look; that’s the look that started it all off all those years ago across the dance floor of a dark, Girl Bar night. That come-home-with-me-complete-stranger look. It was love at first sight. I woke up in your bed the next morning. But this is the couch. The TV is still on. Then I realise that’s no come-hither look, it’s the hundred-yard stare of an exhausted mama who’s fallen asleep mid-sentence with her eyes open. Yep, we’re mothers now.
I admit it, I had created fanciful visions of lesbian motherhood in my mind. My body would not only bounce back, but it would bounce into the shape of Sofia Loren. I would look like a Mediterranean Queen, my cherubic baby at my lush breast, while my Amazonian wife fed me grapes and chocolate. We would laze in the morning glow of a sun-drenched bed with our angel between us.
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What mostly happened, though, was finding myself in a heap on the floor with a suckling beast attached to my nipple, and yes, I do mean my baby. Other times when I made it to bed, I’d end up sleeping on the very ribbing of the mattress with a small toddler sprawled across a queen-sized bed with hand placed protectively on Mama’s booby whilst jamming a foot in his other mamas (whom we very progressively dubbed Ima for our shared, though tenuous, Jewish heritage) ribs. Two mothers desperate for the touch of someone who didn’t pass wind every 20 minutes, we’d reach hands across the great divide and smile drowsily at one another.
See, the pickle here is that lesbian don’t really do quickies. Feel free to pipe in here, ladies, but in the meantime, I’ll go on. We lady lovers generally spend a seemingly insane amount of time ensuring the other is, well, looked after. It’s one of the major plusses of lady love; sure, we may not get a man to hold doors open or loosen a jar of jalapeños (I know, you’re laughing too, right ladies?) but sexual equality in the bedroom is a given.
Of course, it’s not just time and the unsexiness of bed-sharing which gets in the way of post-bub intimacy. There’s the hit taken to a birthing parents self-esteem as well. After a traumatic birth and emergency C-Section, I couldn’t look at my unrecognisable belly for a long time. Knowing my partner’s body had been left unchanged was making me feel inadequate. And as the weeks passed, I discovered big boobs are not much fun for the wearer, and my belly wasn’t cooperating with my plans to come back looking like a Halle Berry poster. I had the dreaded Abdominal Separation. Basically, my brain forgot how to talk to my abs. And sit ups actually separate them more, so the only thing to do is PLANK!
Remember when planking became an international sport, and participants were challenging themselves to plank in the most far-out and dangerous situations? On a fence, a balcony, Bert’s monobrow. Well, here I was, with uncooperative, apathetic abs, figuring out how I was going to plank when every time I took my attention away from my baby, he bawled and proceeded to climb all over me. I could go with this of course, and just plank with the extra kilos on me. The other option, which I took, was to rock in a hammock while we both drifted to sleep. Hammocks; strengthening cores for decades.
Months passed, sleep eluded us as did the abundant bedroom antics we once enjoyed. So we decided to try a new, extreme tact. We moved two states away to where our son’s extended family lived in order to take advantage of grandparent privileges; sleepovers. The physical self-repulsion I was plagued by, however, meant I wanted to hide my body. It was damaged goods. No longer a temple to be worshipped at, it was a continental buffet. Leaking milk on my lover whilst trying in vain to tense insolent abs was not what I had in mind. Then there are the post pregnancy surprises you are gifted along the way. Thrush.
Now, on that note, a wise friend told me many moons ago of a natural remedy for the dreaded yeast attack; Tea Tree Oil. Dip a tampon in some of the pungent oil, insert and brace. That shit kills yeast like no one’s business, but be prepared for The Burn. You will be walking like Kim Kardashian with a back injury for 10 or so minutes but hear me, sisters. It works. It starts like a cold burn that starts outside your lady parts, then travels deep into your fallopian tubes, but do it. Just not if you are planning an intimate night in, or you may inadvertently share The Burn. Nothing fizzes out a romantic child-fee night like Tea Tree Oil in all the wrong places. While she may not have birthed, bled or lactated, at least I can share some of the pain.
We have a three-year-old fellow now, and we coo now as he proudly says, ‘We are a rainbow family!’ I am more accepting of my mum tum, and this means I am slowly taking off the layers of clothing and bashfulness in the boudoir. It’s about positions, ladies. Get into one which makes you feel like Wonder Woman, before the men got to the island. Something’s gonna either sag southward or off to the side but the sooner we all realise our partners don’t even notice, let alone care, the sooner we can all get some of that sexual healing.
His name wasn’t Marvin Gaye for nothing. It’s true what they say, two wombs do make a right.
Belinda has a passion for storytelling and spoken word poetry, with a love of queer history and stories of identity, migration and the urban landscape. In 2014, she and her partner Cecile Knight released the self-published book CO_The Creative Couples Project. She has been published in The Victorian Writer, n-SCRIBE, Mamamia.com, writingqueensland.com and the 2015 anthology BOLD: stories from older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people by David Hardy, published by The Rag and Bone Man Press. In 2017, Belinda was selected for the ACT Writers Centre HARDCOPY professional development program for Non-Fiction for her current manuscript, The House with the Columns. She can be found on Instagram.