When 50 Shades of Grey hit cinemas in 2015, it introduced those who hadn't read the books, and those who didn't have a raging interest in BDSM, to a different kind of hero's journey: Anastasia Steele's sexual submission. The titular Christian Grey is her "dom" and cinematic ratings quickly get pushed to their boundaries in the infamous "Red Room," where Steele submits to her partner's whims. BDSM is supposed to be hot, but, for a mom in the doldrums of postpartum, maybe the idea of outsourcing some of the sexual desire and excitement to your partner makes sense, I thought as 50 Shades Freed approached. I tried it: I did my best to channel Anastasia Steele and see if my postpartum sex life got a boost.
Sex postpartum can be tricky and requires extra thought and planning. My husband and I have navigated around sleep deprivation and our crazy schedules as new parents by planning sex-dates. This worked perfectly for us because no matter how crazy things had gotten or how busy or tired we were, we made sex a priority and planned for it as often as we could. But it’s been nearly two years postpartum and planned sex-dates and the lack of spontaneity has it drawbacks. No one thinks planned sex is, well, sexy. It was typical of us to plan for sex in between episodes of our favorite shows and although we maintained an active sex life, I was afraid that we had gotten into a rut.
In a effort to break free of my postpartum sex routine, I went on the search for something to rev things up a bit. With Valentine's Day rapidly approaching, I felt inspired to try something out of my comfort zone. I was bombarded by previews for Freed and I was desperate to spice things up a bit. At first I thought, lingerie? But that seemed too safe and familiar — anything your mother-in-law would conceivably buy you isn't really a bedroom revelation, you know. Then I realized: I NEED PROPS. Of course.
Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey have somehow captured the essence of the ultimate sexual fantasy. And I was totally willing to channel my inner Anastasia Steele if it meant saving my sex life. And so I ordered a box filled to the brim with everything I’d need to have a Red Room experience of my own. Among the goodies I order to our home were a whip, bondage tape, two glass balls, underwear for me, and of course a gray tie for my husband. My husband didn’t seem too thrilled about a pre-packaged sexual fantasy, after all neither of us had ever suggested or seemed interested in this type of S&M fantasy before, but I was convinced that we needed to try something out of the ordinary or we'd slowly kill our sex-drives.
My face was red with embarrassment and my husband just looked puzzled. 'Are you into this?' I asked. 'Not really,' he responded.
Later that week, we set aside time to play out our Red Room fantasy. Somewhere in between trying to insert glass balls into my vagina and wrapping myself in sticky bondage tape as the instructions detailed, I felt more nervous than sexy. I kept telling myself that, Anastasia Steele was nervous initially about indulging in Christian's sexual preferences at first too and I tried to shake it off. As my husband and I proceeded to role play as Mr. and Mrs. Grey, nothing went as planned. Instead of feeling like I was tapping into the ultimate fantasy, I felt like I was in a really bad porno — which is coincidentally how Dakota Johnson seems to have felt filming the thing.
My face was red with embarrassment and my husband just looked puzzled. "Are you into this?" I asked. "Not really" he responded.
Why wasn't this working the way I had initially thought it would? Wasn't this supposed to be sexy, spontaneous, or at the very least a mind-blowing sexual experience? I'm not sure why I thought turning to two fictional characters would be a great idea but I came to the realization pretty quickly that this wasn't such a great plan.
If I'm honest, I felt this incredible pressure to not become one of those couples that put sex on the back-burner after having children and slowly drifting apart.
I wasn't into it and it felt nothing like the movie had portrayed it to be. Eventually I ripped off the bondage tape, removed the tie that was wrapped around my eyes, and sat next to my husband feeling defeated. My husband began to laugh, which made matters worse. I really went all-out only to have sex feel like a joke.
If I'm honest, I felt this incredible pressure to not become one of those couples that put sex on the back-burner after having children and slowly drifting apart. I felt like planned-sex worked for us for a while but I was afraid that it had lasted way longer than I ever expected and that perhaps this was a bad thing.
After my husband's chuckles faded and my cheeks returned to their normal shade, he told me that we didn't need to go to extremes to have a great sex life. In fact, he was puzzled that I even suggested that we needed to try something new. At first his words felt like an attempt to make me feel better, but honestly, he was right. We were having sex often and sex was great. Even though it was planned and sometimes well-orchestrated, it was working for us. Sure, if we had the opportunity to have sex when we wanted rather than when it was convenient, I wouldn't be opposed to it but it's just not realistic at this point in our lives.
I wish I would have discussed this with my husband first or at least given myself credit for even making the time for sex with such a hectic schedule instead of jumping to conclusions and referring to a movie for advice. Channeling Anastasia Steele for one evening just taught me that my sex-life postpartum is definitely different, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad thing.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.