Parenthood and the Reinvention of Sex

Illustration: Mary Esther Lemus

By Silvana Heredia  (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – Havana. Summer 2015. Nine months before our daughter would be born. We didn’t plan for her, but I was sure that I wouldn’t abort my first pregnancy. I was 22 years old, had a degree under my belt and the job of my dreams, my own house – which is inconceivable at this age here in Cuba, a three-year relationship and the summer heat.

We were going to the Fabrica de Arte, in Vedado, quite regularly that summer. Interactivo’s song “Que lindo es el amor” had just come out, and the song became part of our soundtrack at that time. I remember those months being the most fun, crazy and experimental of my pre-motherhood life. It was the time I kissed a girl for the first time and our first trio.

Every weekend, we were going to 26th and 11th Streets and ended up at the Corner Cafe until 7 AM. That September morning, we were drunk and the bedroom on the second floor of my house was unbearably hot. The sex was supernatural. A few days later, the symptoms began.

She came when she wanted and how she wanted. That’s the rebel she is.

No desire, no brain for sex… 

She was born on a hot early morning in June. After recovering from the C-section, we went home with a baby girl that weighed 5 kgs in our arms and the new life of first-time parents on our back. Everything that happened after that moment can be summarized in three words: crying, breastfeeding and poop.

What was sex like that first year? I don’t know. I’m not even sure I had any. A cloud of diapers clouds this memory. Lust and debauchery didn’t exist. But I did have a C-section wound infected with staphylococcus in the delivery room, I was overweight, tired and forever sleepy, with pain in my breasts because of her inexperienced latch and too much milk.

I know friends who began to have sexual relations before their cuarentena was up. I envied them a lot, I didn’t understand where they got the energy from. I still don’t understand it. My partner says we did have sex, but he can’t remember a specific occasion.

Those early months were just learning, concentrating to the max and dedicating everything to our family’s newest member. There wasn’t any desire or brainpower for sex.

Making love or playing hide and seek?

A year passed by. Sex came back into our lives, but as a routine. We were a young couple, but it wasn’t the same. We had to do it differently, find new strategies, try doing it in other places around the house, because the baby’s cot was in our bedroom until she turned four.

I couldn’t have sex in the bedroom. He’d begin to caress me and I’d imagine the little girl waking up.

We experimented in another room on the ground floor, in the living room, in the kitchen, but I couldn’t stop worrying about her. I didn’t see her, I didn’t know if she was breathing OK or not. My thoughts as a mother didn’t let me enjoy sex or have orgasms like I should. I don’t even remember masturbating during this time. Maybe I did, probably hiding in the bathroom in the few minutes I had to take a shower, because the baby could be hungry and need my breasts at any moment.

During the delivery and the first few weeks of breastfeeding, pregnant women’s bodies produce oxytocin. The hormone shortens births and allows us to go through them with less stress; so much so that some people think about having another baby. In my case, I had way too much and I forgot the tough moments, any moment, and sex. I forgot if I ever had sex during that time.

Grandparents, our saviors

Until she was finally old enough to stay with the grandparents. One weekend with the maternal grandparents, and another one with the paternal grandparents. It was heaven on earth and sex came back into our lives.

Children make certain practices like sexy dances, screaming, music for pre-sex grinding, dressing up, role-play and group sex difficult. It depends on the intimacy of each couple, but we needed certain things.

We were very lucky to be able to have our “old ones” about. Thus, a second stage began in our relationship and in our bed. We returned to some parties and bars, we met new people, we reconnected with old friends.

Five years, married and with a long list of fantasies in mind.

Nobody talks about sex

We always talked about sex at university. At any meeting, in the middle of any project, we always ended up talking about penetration, fellatio, indecent sexual encounters and other related subjects. It was so fun to talk about these subjects with friends. After becoming parents, our circle of friends became practically other young parents like ourselves. Geeks with children. We’d meet at the park, birthday parties or any other improvized child/youth meeting; but we didn’t talk about the same things anymore.

Now, complaints about primary school teachers or headlice were the focus of our conversations. Anything linked to sexuality was off the table because the children could hear us and “they understood everything.”

We ate the cake too

Polygamy and group sex are complicated practices after giving birth. When you have a child, you have to plan everything a lot more and better. My partner and I debated about whether to invite a “unicorn” girl home to shake up our routine, but there were always questions about our daughter. Our experiences were limited to when she was with her grandparents and it was usually only for one night.

Going out with friends one night, I met the first girl I kissed, when I still wasn’t a mother. We’d only ever kissed and we’d never seen each other again. We’d never run into each other even waiting for the bus. There was joy in that reencounter. We caught up with each other in a few hours. She was a mother and was married. We met so the girls could play at her home in Vedado. We became quite close in those days and the girls understood each other and were happy.

“The girl I kissed” spoke to me on the way to her little girl’s daycare center. She and her husband wanted to try having sex with another couple and we were the chosen ones. But it had to be in their home and with a great deal of care, because the girl and her mother would be there.

We set a date one weekend. One thing about having children is that plans can fall apart in a second. No matter how many plans you make, no matter how much you anticipate and prepare yourself, you’re never sure what’s going to happen. That first weekend, we woke up and one of the girls had a fever so we had to cancel.

Our encounters with them began at their house, when the little girl fell asleep, but there. Zero noise so as not to wake her. No moaning or ass slapping or encouraging phrases. We had an answer ready in case she’d wake up and ask what her parents and uncle and aunt were doing in bed. Everything happened in silence, but we enjoyed it. It was something new and morbid for all four of us.

One time, we did it in our house, when we’d already done it to death there and her mother began to suspect something was going on. In our house, it had to be done in the day, because the girls were at daycare. We’d stop at 4 PM and go to pick them up.

At that time, I was reading a book that the husband of the “girl I’d kissed” given me, a kind of manual about polyamory. It’s called “The Ethical Slut” by U.S. authors Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy. That book helped me to understand lots of things that I was unsure of up until then; especially about managing my feelings. I understood that polyamory isn’t an innocent practice and can’t be taken lightly; on the contrary, it requires a great deal of maturity, complicity, communication and emotional responsibility.

Europe and more open minds

After emigrating and living in Europe, we’ve discovered that there is a much broader and more colorful sex/emotional world than the one we knew in Cuba.

Clubs and saunas where you can swap partners, applications to find singles or swingers, clubs open at any time of the day, all kinds of thematic bars, sex shops, dark rooms, BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination, submission, sadism and masochism) parties, erotic dancers, escorts, nudist beaches, more open-minded and willing people. I’ve often thought that if all of this existed in Cuba, the divorce rate would be much lower. If there were also babysitters and decent wages that’d allow you to get one.

But we don’t have the grandparents here. So, we are still limited to have sex. Our marathon sex sessions are in the morning or the ealy hours of the evening. We don’t want to disturb our neighbors either. You can hear everything in these apartments and more so in the silence of the night. Our little girl still isn’t used to sleeping alone in her room, despite her age, and she comes to ours. It’s awful for our sexual health.

The reality, both in Cuba and here in Spain, is that we continue to be parents, but we are also a young couple. We have the desire to explore, learn, exchange, experiment a little with the new opportunities European culture brings us. Better and wetter times will come.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

4 thoughts on “Parenthood and the Reinvention of Sex

  • I love that they write about these kinds of topics normally labeled as taboo. I feel like this article helps me quite a bit to get an idea of how things work as a couple being parents, as intimacy is an important part of a relationship depending on who is looking at it.

  • Why this? Because Havana Times caters itself to open minded writing. And that is a good thing. Period.

  • What a waste of space. Why this?

  • Did you really have to print this?

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