Everly, a 37-year-old IT manager who lives in Brooklyn, has her family running like a well-oiled machine, so well that even she’s surprised by it sometimes. But she’s facing what having a baby has done to her female friendships — and her sex drive. From secretly sipping coffee on the toilet to keeping the spark alive with “hallway hugs,” see how this mother’s day goes down.
Then, I’m off into the bathroom to shower and get ready. Sometimes, I don’t shower, though. Sometimes, I grab a cup of coffee and sit in the bathroom with the shower running and the door locked and scroll through Instagram and listen to podcasts. One time, I forgot to lock the door and my husband came in to find me sitting on the toilet seat sipping coffee and blankly staring at my phone in the steamy bathroom. Oh, well.
I get dressed and do something with my hair and face (no makeup, but lots of sunscreen to keep looking young). When I come out of the bathroom, I usually eat the breakfast James has made. He makes the same thing every day: a veggie frittata. He prepares a gallon-size Ziploc bag of chopped veggies on Sunday night and scoops a ladle of it into the frying pan. I know you know how to make a frittata, so I won’t bore you with it. But this is an impressive feat, considering he didn’t know how to cook much of anything before we met. Now, he’s flipping eggs onto a plate every day.
Sometimes, it’s a well-oiled machine and sometimes, it’s a broken-down jalopy.
Meanwhile, I’m at work doing 10 million things at once (or at least thinking about that many). The next tab over from this screen is a preschool application; the tab next to that is the Wiki page for a new parenting philosophy I just heard of; the next tab is the stats of the parenting podcast I produce; and the other tab is my Amazon birthday list for Syd...I’m currently on a conference call.
I nurse Syd while my mother-in-law gives me a quick rundown of the day’s events (how long the baby napped, what she ate, any new words or actions, etc.). She leaves and I play with Sydney a bit. Around 6 p.m., I start to get her dinner ready. She eats the same dinner as us, like at breakfast, but she eats a lot earlier. Our go-to lately is fusilli pasta with sautéed veggies (from that same gallon Ziploc bag) and little bit of jar sauce for flavor. I put her in her high chair while I cook and give her steamed broccoli or string beans left over from last night’s dinner. If I don’t give her something to munch on/tear apart and throw on the floor while she’s in her high chair, it’s curtains!
We either have sex or we go watch 'Wheel of Fortune.'
I do pretty much all of the purchasing (Amazon, diapers, groceries, baby clothes, household items) and he pays the bills online. I manage our money and do any investing or saving strategizing. We used to be slobs and only cleaned when people came over. But we argued about household work, even then. It’s one of our running issues. I feel like I’ve always been supremely aware of not wanting to be a put-upon wife and he doesn’t want to be a stereotypical boneheaded husband. When we fell into those roles before the baby, we’d have all-night-long discussions about our feelings and stuff. That helped us to shortcut when it happens now — we just do chores based on our work schedules.
Honestly, sometimes, the house is a wreck and we just let it be messy for a few days. On the weekends, I let him sleep in a bit (Until 8 a.m.! Ha! Who would've thought that would be a "sleeping-in" time?) and we just navigate around piles of clothes on the floor and open takeout cartons in the kitchen. But we like living in a tidier environment and our daughter is more mobile now, so we've started picking up after ourselves more. On Sundays, we both do our assigned chores: He does laundry, garbage and recycling, vacuuming, and weekday-breakfast prep. I clean the baby's room, the bathroom, and do weekday-dinner prep. We clean our bedroom together and order delivery dinner, so I don't have to cook. When Syd was a newborn, we decided that I'd do "input" (breast-feeding) and he'd do "output" (diapers). We both feel better when we have clearly designated roles and expectations, but we both pitch in to help each other, too. Sometimes, it’s a well-oiled machine and sometimes, it's a broken-down jalopy.
I thought my daughter would be surrounded by my girlfriends and they would be showering her with love and attention. Not so much.
I'm still trying to decipher what normalcy is now — my priorities are so different. I'm totally engrossed in raising a child, yet I'm sort of nostalgic for my previous life. I didn’t realize that a lot of friendships wind down or fizzle out completely when you have a baby. I thought my daughter would be surrounded by tons of aunties (my girlfriends) and they would be showering her with love and attention. Not so much. I also thought I’d still feel close to my friends, despite having a kid. But I don’t really get invited out much and no one really contacts me to come visit us. I kind of fear that my single friends feel like I’m out of their club, because I’m not dating or partying anymore. So, I kind of had to mourn the loss of that old part of my life. But I’m old as hell and I dated and partied a lot, so I know I’m not missing much — but I do miss the intimacy of good girlfriends.
I'm trying to connect with other parents now. One way I'm doing that is through my podcast. I like the idea of sharing trade secrets, and talking to my guests also helps me realize that truly every kid is different. One told me she cuts her baby’s nails while she’s asleep. I was totally dumbfounded! We can’t even flush the toilet while our kid’s sleeping!
Are you still dealing with any postpartum symptoms? How are you feeling about your body?
I had a pretty quick and easy recovery after birth. No peeing when I laugh. I love what my body can do, and did do, for me: a quick and relatively easy, unmedicated birth and provide nourishment from my breasts for the past year. I hate the way it looks. I look like a brown, stretch-marked Grimace from McDonald’s. I’m a solid 20 pounds overweight and I have to roll up my pendulous boobs to stuff them into my ugly-ass nursing bra.
What has your sex life been like post-childbirth?
I barely have any sex drive whatsoever. My husband and I had a whirlwind relationship that was heavily based on sex. Now, that's not the case. I informally schedule sex two or three times a week just to make sure that when my sex drive does finally come back (hopefully after I'm finished breast-feeding), we won't have lost our comfort level. I don't know. I really don't want to be in a sexless marriage. I may not have a lot of carnal instincts lately, but I have a ton of emotional needs and regular sex helps me feel connected to my husband so we can keep on keepin' on.
What were you the least prepared for about life as a working mom?
I honestly expected to feel more torn about being away from my baby all day, but I have no guilt about being at work. I know she's in good hands. I also thought that I would be a terrible mother and that I was too selfish to have a baby, but it turns out that I'm pretty good at it. I'm a total nervous wreck — I'm constantly thinking that every tiny decision we make will have a huge impact on our baby, either detrimental or beneficial; I don’t know which — but at the same time, I take things in stride and just do what needs to be done. Pumping at work, middle-of-the-night feedings, not washing my hair for days, making sure my partner is truly being a partner and not just "helping me." Being a mother really forced me to prioritize what is actually important to me. I'm surprised I can do any of this!
When did it strike you that you’re totally a mom?
It comes and goes, honestly. When I’m dealing with her babyness, I don’t really think of myself as a “mom,” because it’s all still a novelty. But when I think about the longterm-ness of parenthood, I feel terrified. Like, is she going to rely on me the way I rely on my mom? Who authorized that? There must have been a mistake.
Names have been changed.