Three weeks before the birth of my first daughter, when I was swollen, uncomfortable and horrified by my bloated body, distended fingers and inability to see my toes, my midwife suggested I have more sex.
“Seriously,” she told me. “If you want her to come sooner, try having more sex.”
If only it were that easy.
I have always been comfortable with sex. I learned early to please myself and took that with me into relationships, often acting the part of the “male” who just wanted to get off as opposed to the “female,” looking for love and transcendence through sex.
Since discovering that sex had a function beyond fun and feeling good, my mojo had lessened considerably. Every time my husband came near me, I worried about the baby—would all that jostling hurt her? I worried about the way my body looked—could I really seem attractive to anyone?
And most of all, I worried about discomfort. What positions might work for someone who could not lay on their stomach, back, side or pretty much in any position that did not involve three propped pillows? My husband had similar concerns but was more inclined to go for it.
In spite of my reservations, I took her advice, contorting my unfamiliar body into positions it was not meant to access, sitting on my husband's lap, the fear—"death by crushing"—humming in my ears.
The sex was good, albeit bizarre, but awkward as they were, those encounters achieved the desired results. We had an early birth. Our daughter emerged from my womb two weeks early, her birth a product of the same process that created her.
After she was out, we held her between us—our twosome suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a third. We admired the blending of our features: his forehead, my eyes, his lips, my nose. She was mine, his, ours—the personification of our union.
In the early weeks, this connection did not translate to the bedroom. I wanted to hug him, hold him, stroke his hair. But I had no interest in engaging in an act that now seemed so fraught with consequences.