Burp cloths and sweaty hair and oxytocin. (2024)

I was talking with a dear friend the other day, and she was feeling deeply discouraged about just not caring about sex right now.

I should also note that she just gave birth to her third child a couple short months ago.

She patted her tiny one slumbering away on her chest, and I could feel the weight in her soul. Her top knot bobbled away as she adjusted the burp cloth with milk spots on her shoulder.

“It’s just so hard… when is my desire ever going to come back?”

My heart ached for her.

Here’s this beautiful creature, literally sustaining a new life. She’s the sole nourishment for this child, and she’s spending all her energy bonding and snuggling and attuning and connecting with this brand-new soul, ensuring the transition to earth-side is one filled with love and tenderness.

My eyes well up as I even consider this now. What a wonder we are, women.

Burp cloths and sweaty hair and oxytocin. (1)

(This is not my friend’s baby, but another beautiful new life, nonetheless!)

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I watched my friend rest her nose on her baby’s tiny head, taking a deep whiff of sweaty newborn hair. Her eyelids drooped as she said, “I feel guilty even saying this, but I just feel like all my focus is on my little one. Like, all I want is to lay around and snuggle, and the very last thing on my mind is my husband. I just want to drink in these newborn cuddles and surround myself with all the oxytocin that comes from sustaining my baby.”

And that’s when it hit me.

My dear friend is completely obsessed with her new child.

That’s not an insult. Stay with me.

The object of her desire, her focus, her love, is this new tiny one. She aches to care and nourish all day long, and is love-drunk from all the goodness that this stage brings. Tired, sure, but love-drunk all the less.

What keeps her focus all day long?

What has her plonked on the couch for hours with skin to skin time?

What causes her to drop all other priorities and cares?

Her desire.

How she feels when she’s with this little baby.

The good feelings she gets from keeping a small life not only alive, but cared for and nourished and attuned to.

Caring for this tiny person makes her feel alive.

Of course she’d keep prioritizing her child! Her desire has been awakened in motherhood.

Now, this isn’t the kind of desire we typically associate with sexuality, but let’s think for a second. How much different is our desire for sex than our desire for anything else?

When we desire a walk in the sun, what do we want?

When we desire to spend time with a friend, what are we looking for?

When we desire a late night snack of wine and popcorn, what is the reward we seek?

Our desire is seeking to feel connected with pleasure.

It brings us pleasure to get exercise we enjoy. It brings us pleasure to connect with a person dear to us. It brings us pleasure to eat a snack after a long day.

So if we’re going to have desire for sex, it’s going to be because there’s pleasure and connection on the other side.

And even bigger than pleasure and connection - there’s something even more going on. I think that when we have sex that feels good, enjoyable, and connecting, we’re tapping into something deep within ourselves that awakens our very souls.

In short, good sex makes us feel alive.

Our aliveness is what some people call “the erotic”. Emily Nagoski has a whole chapter on this at the end of her new book, “Come Together”, and another favorite, “Magnificent Sex”, talks about this at length.

I’m sure there are many other resources out there that discuss this as well. Ayn book with “tantric” on the cover is sure to discuss the erotic, spiritual nature of sexuality.

When we talk about the erotic, we’re talking about feeling alive. This is the feeling that you exist in your own skin and that you have an inner vitality that’s seeping out into the world around you, bumping into and impacting the other energies that exist around you.

When we feel our best on this earth - when we feel our best in this life - we feel like ourselves. When we feel like ourselves, we are connected to the erotic, which means we are connected to the aliveness within ourselves.

Burp cloths and sweaty hair and oxytocin. (2)

What a thing it is to be human. What a thing it is to have consciousness and to be here on this earth doing things and living and creating.

If we are going to have sex that we want, it’s going to be sex that makes us feel alive.

My dear friend is currently feeling very alive as she connects with her little one. She’s feeling deeply connected to herself - filled with purpose and joy. It’s so beautiful, and so fulfilling for her.

No wonder sex doesn’t sound interesting. She’s already feeling extremely alive.

And here’s the thing - one day, her aliveness won’t come solely from her baby. She’ll seek aliveness with her partner again.

And I know her partner well enough to be sure that he’ll be there, ready to receive that energy from her. He’ll welcome that desire, excited that she’s ready to feel that with him again.

This is the thing with long-lasting relationships - we all have to recognize that our aliveness isn’t always found solely in our partners. There will be seasons where we find aliveness elsewhere.

The goal isn’t to always have laser-focus on our partners, but the goal is to stay committed to communicating through those seasons.

To not take it personally. To restate our love for the other - knowing it goes deeper than the season we’re in. And to find ways to connect in a way that honors how we’re currently feeling alive.

So whether you’re feeling a sense of aliveness in your sex life right now, or that aliveness is coming from a different source, let’s all be curious about what it is that’s making us feel the most like ourselves, and give ourselves lots of compassion amidst those feelings.

If you and your partner are in it for the long haul, they can handle it. It just needs to be an ongoing conversation.

And if you’re also a new mama, like my friend here, consider this your official permission slip: it’s okay to feel the most alive with your new baby. Your partner can wait. You two are gonna be okay.

Wise Words

Here are some of my recent favorites from the ‘gram. Take what you need and leave the rest.

Burp cloths and sweaty hair and oxytocin. (3)
Burp cloths and sweaty hair and oxytocin. (4)
Burp cloths and sweaty hair and oxytocin. (5)

Thanks for learning along with us! May you discover and nurture that in your life which makes you feel truly alive.

💗 Rachel

Burp cloths and sweaty hair and oxytocin. (2024)
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