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Bedtime stories

Bedtime stories
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First Published: Sat, Jun 16 2007. 12 10 AM IST

Updated: Sat, Jun 16 2007. 12 10 AM IST
Srimoyee (31) Mumbai
Date her life changed: 14.03.2006
Two years ago, when I discovered that I was pregnant, we were taken by surprise. It was not planned and we were not prepared, emotionally or financially. My husband had just started a furniture design company, and I had quit my job as creative director at an advertising agency to take an active role in the new business.
Even then, I was thrilled. My husband initially had mixed feelings, but it didn’t take long to realize that we were on the verge of a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Those eight months were blissful. I was a very happy pregnant woman—no morning sickness, no mental stress. We decided that we’d take each day as it comes.
It was a planned C-section, we chose the date of birth of our daughter. After we came back from the hospital, it suddenly dawned: Our life had changed forever. Compared to most of our friends, who were well-settled with their own house, investments and steady, well-paying jobs, we had been a carefree couple. Three to four months of the year, we would travel. We would save up only to travel.
After the little one arrived, I was confined to the house. He was working and trying to do his best to help. In the first month, the thought of sex would put me off, and he wouldn’t bring it up. One month turned to two and then three and four. We actually didn’t have sex for six months (including the last month of pregnancy, when it was just too cumbersome).
There were times when the baby would be sleeping and my husband would be at work, and I would yearn for some intimacy. I often scared myself thinking the spark in our relationship was lost.
Most of the time, we were too busy with the baby. Every new thing about her—the way she smiled, or slept—would keep us busy.
One day, when she was six months old, we finally talked. It turned out that my husband was much more sex-starved than I was. From then, we decided to plan it.
It helped that we have a small team working at our office and, more importantly, our daughter is a very sociable child. We had people to take care of her. Yet, most of the time, sex was timed according to when she slept. My husband’s worst nightmare was that she would wake up and see us having sex. But our sex life, though not completely reclaimed, at least existed now.
Our daughter is an outdoor child and we have taken her on two vacations so far. She thoroughly enjoys the drive, the walks and the beach. But we miss the freedom to go back to the hotel room whenever we want and have our time together.
Planned sex is here to stay, but ultimately, it’s really a small price to pay for the joy of sharing your life with your child.
Nidhi (29) Mumbai
Date her life changed: 18.11.2006
I was working as a consultant with a leading placement consultancy and recruitment firm in Mumbai when I got pregnant. It was a planned pregnancy, but it still came as a surprise. And yes, it has changed our relationship completely. In our case, for the better.
To begin with, for two years before our son was born, we went through a very rocky phase. My husband was an investment banker with a foreign bank that specializes in mergers, and his job would take him to Southeast Asia through the year. We met at IIM Bangalore, where he was my senior in finance and I was specializing in human resources. I’ve always been more ambitious than him. He would rather be in a cushy, decently-paying job than climb the ladder.
Yet, as I was going to be 30, I became obsessed with the idea of getting pregnant. We tried for about two years, off and on (since he was travelling most of the time). My husband was put off by the idea at first. He tried to make me see reason and failed. We went to doctors after a year, got all kinds of tests done and even tried induced ovulation.
As months went by in 2005, my desperate need to get pregnant and the stress at our respective workplaces took a toll on our relationship, although we refused to acknowledge it then.
Things changed when, in March 2006, I discovered I was pregnant. I had a complicated pregnancy and almost had a miscarriage. I had to be on medical leave for two months. So, work took a back seat, but it brought us together.
After our son was born, I took up a part-time consultancy project with the same company. I think I’ve almost forgotten what good sex is like. Sex had been infrequent since we got married in 2004, but while we were trying to have a baby, sex had become somewhat mechanical. After my pregnancy, it has been almost non-existent—just about once or twice a month.
I’m trying to juggle work and my child. My husband has changed his job, but he travels even more now. But, quite surprisingly, we’re happy in our own spaces—me with our son and my work, and he with his work—and yet, we know we are together responsible as a family unit. He’s given me enough emotional support and advice. Whenever he’s around, he’s a great dad.
Sex alone doesn’t necessarily keep a relationship going. Most couples refuse to accept that and try very hard to make sex a priority. The truth is quite different, especially after you have a child.
Pratik (38) Bangalore
Date his life changed: 3.1.2006
We had a baby six years after we got married. By the time our daughter was born, both of us were ready for a child—my wife more so than me because she was already 33.
I’ve changed three jobs in the last 10 years and my wife, who graduated in fine arts, has tried to open an art gallery wherever my job has taken me. But her first priority has always been the family. So, we were thrilled when she got pregnant two years ago.
We were partly prepared for the changes, but it took a lot of adjusting, not so much due to the lack of sex life, but just paying attention to small things about each other. Everything about us became insignificant and the baby started dictating even our sleep. It was very frustrating at times, especially for me—I was working late nights because I was in the middle of launching a retail company, where I currently work, in India.
My wife had become completely absorbed, but she was tired, too, as we didn’t have help from our family. She just had paid help who stayed from morning till evening. So, sex was infrequent, decided by when the baby was sleeping.
We visited my sister in New Jersey, US, last year. She has a four-year-old, who has been sleeping in her own room ever since she was two. It’s a habit that’s inculcated in children in the US when they are very young. And my niece was completely used to being tucked in by her parents and going to sleep on her own.
We recently tried that with our daughter and it seems to be working. She wakes up in the night, but only sometimes
For many Indian couples, it might seem an outrageous idea to let their baby sleep alone, but it definitely has its advantages. Children grow up with a sense of independence if they’re given their space.
For couples, besides sex, being together without the baby gives them the mental space to think about each other. I now share a lot about my work with my wife, which I haven’t done in two years.
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First Published: Sat, Jun 16 2007. 12 10 AM IST
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