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A mother reignites the home fires after a baby

In “Confessions of a Naughty Mommy,” Heidi Raykeil writes about the search for her missing libido after the birth of her daughter. Read an excerpt.
/ Source: TODAY

After seven racy and passionate years of courtship and marriage, who knew marriage and kids would completely destroy a woman's sex drive? In “Confessions of a Naughty Mommy: How I Found My Lost Libido,” Heidi Raykeil, author of online column “Sex in the Suburbs,” talks about her experiences in life, love and sex after having a baby. Here's an excerpt.

Sex in the SuburbsHere’s the thing. You’re young, or not so young. You’re in love. You’re naughty. You have sex madly — wherever, whenever, however you can. You read poems about being each other’s missing piece, about completing each other. You fit. It’s two against the world; you’re a pair, a set, partners in crime, two in the hand, the double whammy, soul mates. Two sides of the same coin, two sides of the story, 2 hot 2 handle. Just the two of us. You are clean, efficient, parallel lines; your passion is direct, unfiltered, raw.

And then, literally overnight, two becomes three. “Husband and wife” becomes “mother and father.” “Lover” becomes “other” — other roles, other priorities, other loves. Your love life becomes awkward, unbalanced, tipping and toppling: a terribly uneven, unseemly triangle. Bye-bye, parallel lines. Bye-bye, partner in crime. Naughtiness as you know it is over. So long, leisurely mornings in bed; so long, carefree nights carousing; so long, spontaneous summertime sex. Hello, sex in the suburbs.

About five years ago, a hot summer hike turned into hot sweaty sex for my husband, JB, and me: hiked-up shirts and hiked-down shorts and us roughing it in all the right ways. Just off the trail, in the cool shade of a tanoak tree, we risked contracting poison oak in all the wrong places. Hearing other hikers headed our way only added to our heat, and with the snap of a branch, boom! Our daughter was conceived.

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Although I’m mostly a quiet person, I have always had a naughty side. A fun, risk-taking, whiskey-drinking, dance-on-the-table side. A do-it-in-the-bushes side. A lap-dance-for-my-husband side. Even as a kid I had it. My imaginary friend, Herina, didn’t come to play dolls and have tea parties, she came to wreak havoc, be nasty and crude, loud and mean-spirited. Then Heidi would come back and be sweet and perfect and quiet again.

Naughtiness, to me, is not just about sex — although that’s certainly a big fun part of it. It’s about the little imp that sits on my shoulder and tells me to push the limits, bend the rules, take a chance. It’s the Why not? side of me. It’s about fun and excitement, chills and thrills, the feeling of being alive. Of course, that’s not exactly compatible with the image of mothering out there: the angel on the other shoulder, sugar and spice, everything nice, careful now, careful.

In her book The Mother Dance, Harriet Lernersays, “[M]uch of psychology remains a whodunit with the finger pointed in the mother’s direction.” She got that right. Ultimately, we’re the ones blamed when our kids grow up to be on Jerry Springer. We’re the ones trying to avoid that by gobbling up parenting books and Baby Einstein videos and baby sign language classes. Manic mommies everywhere are striving for perfection, in their kids, in themselves. We’re striving to hold it all together, to figure out working and not working, to choose the best schools, the best parenting styles, the best future for the people who mean more to us than anything. It’s a kind ofoffspring insanity, one that Judith Warner writes about in her book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. It’s a crazy, beautiful madness that takes its toll, wears us out and doesn’t allow a whole heck of a lot of room to be naughty. Beyond that, with the baby-ization of Hollywood — Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson, and the beautiful Desperate Housewives on Wisteria Lane — we’re supposed to look like a million bucks, too. But we don’t have personal trainers; we have potty training. We don’t have our own Nanny 911 or personal chefs; we have Chef Boyardee, and we have our hot local firefighters show up while we’re in the bathroom because our toddler dialed 911 by accident, again. The glossy magazines we zone out on while we’re in that bathroom, hiding out, promise to help us have it all, do it all: You can be the perfect mom and the perfect wife, they assure us. You can be holy, happy, housewifey, and a whore in the bedroom. But four and a half years ago that sure wasn’t my reality.

Four and a half years ago, my sex life tanked because I gave birth to the most beautiful, precious, gentle little person I have ever met, my daughter Ramona. And then I sat dumbstruck and watched as she completely obliterated my love life. Where once my husband and I had stayed up until 3:00 am bouncing each other off the walls, now we were up at 3 taking turns bouncing her on our knees, desperate to get her back to bed.

Despite getting an extensive sex education, starting with my parents and ending with a lot of personal mistakes, I was totally unprepared for the toll motherhood would take on my marriage. This isn’t to say I didn’t receive plenty of information: From the minute my swollen belly announced my pregnancy to the world, people gave me advice about parenting. They told me (whether I asked or not) their thoughts on crib vs. co-sleeping, breast vs. bottle, diaper service vs. disposables. They told me I’d be tired, more tired than I’ve ever been before. They told me I’d never regret it, that it’s hard, that there’s nothing better.

But no one ever told me I would end up calling my husband “Poppy” when I used to call him “lover.” Or that soon I’d find sleeping to be the most satisfying part of sleeping with him. No seasoned mom ever slipped a bottle of Probe or Liquid Silk into my baby shower basket with a little note letting me know that nursing can cause vaginal dryness. No one explained to me not to do it in front of mirrors that first year, or to avoid walking by stacks of dirty dishes on the way to the bedroom. And no one warned me that having a baby was like the excitement of falling in love all over again, except with someone much younger and better smelling than my husband. No one told me that for all intents and purposes having a baby was dangerously similar to having an affair.

Excerpted from “Naughty Mommy: How I Found My Lost Libido” by Heidi Raykeil. Copyright ©2005 by Heidi Raykeil. Published by . No part of this excerpt can be used without permission of the publisher.