We have duty to ourselves: keeping the spark alive
The baby sleeps in our bedroom but we still try to get a ration of passion
Recently, the singer Macy Gray told me that she could never understand when couples said that they worked hard on their relationship. Surely, it should come easy and be natural. Time was when I would have agreed with her, but that was before our baby was born.
Back then, we had buckets of afternoon fiestas - which are what I like to call a siesta with some sex thrown in - and we enjoyed making love at all sorts of random times. Once, we got the urge to do it early one evening, a few minutes before Inigo did Skype with his parents in the Basque country. His post-coital conversation on camera was strange as he was too weak to wag. His beady-eyed mother kept asking if he was okay. The next day, she confided in her sister that she was worried about her son not being his usual lively self. Something was up. Indeed it was. Finally, we had to explain that we were overcome by a moment of passion. She laughed, and was much relieved.
Oh, those were the days when I was almost a nymphomaniac; often preferring sex to sleep. Now we are in a world of baby-monitors, toddler's nightmares and teething squeals. Our boy's cot is in our room. Every night, Telmo wails at some point. Then we fling him into the bed with us. After that, we all sleep very well. It is lovely, except for the part that he is often between us, so we end up shaking hands to say goodnight. It took us months before we copped on to putting him on the edge of the bed, with the cot against it to keep him from falling out, so we could actually be closer to one another.
Last year, the writer Sebastian Barry warned me to get our six-month-old baby into another room, as he said that babies have the antennae of rattlesnakes. I often think of him when only moments in the room, our 1ƒ-year-old senses our presence and stands up in the cot with his arms raised. We relent with kisses and allow him to share our bed. 'The baby comes first' has been our mantra ever since he was born. But now, the little Baluba is so secure that he is like King Kong in our bed, while we sometimes tire of the strain of the self-sacrifice. Add to this, that I am pregnant again, and so there is great fun. Last time during the pregnancy, I was too wiped out for sex. I would burp a lot and any time we did try to do anything, I would discover that several positions only encouraged heartburn.
Unlike the first pregnancy, this time I still have a sexual appetite but finding a way to satisfy it can be tricky. We have silent sex and curse when the mattress creaks. We joke that no child of ours would have the bad manners to wake up when we are having sex, and mostly, our boy has obliged us. But if we try to be romantic in daylight hours, it means putting him in a high chair to watch nursery rhymes. We know how long each video is and when we get to The Wheels on the Bus, we had better be nearly finished. The clock is ticking. By the time we hear Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, we should be back by his side. But it's not always sex. Sometimes, we just lie down in bed and chat while the baby has his afternoon snooze.
After Telmo was born, we were so intent on doing everything the right way that it took months before we realised that we had a duty to ourselves, as well as the child. If that meant taking time out to go to the cinema or simply kissing in the kitchen, that was fine, but it was important to do something for ourselves. And afterwards, we were cheerier with our boy.
This Valentine's Day, we were woken up early by Telmo and it was the usual routine of a nappy change, breakfast and bottle but somewhere in there, we found a pocket of time for ourselves. We may never have the sex bonanzas that we once had, what with tiredness, the ever-present toddler, not to mention the new baby on the horizon, but the important thing is to be a couple too; to find the time, to make the time. See, Macy, sometimes you have to work at it.
But it's nice work if you can get it.