The Art of Making Babies

Hello! Trying to bust out of the winter doldrums here. Sorry for no posts in a while. Here's some thoughts on love and romance for the big V-Day. It's time to get in the mood for, well, chocolates and flowers anyway. Some thoughts below on the art of making babies!

The hokey pokey, the old boot knocking, the mattress dance… Whatever you call it, the art of making babies is a very popular topic. People like to practice up on it, talk about it. Many TV shows use it as a basis of humor. Some, like Two and a Half Men, use it for every punch line.

I have a friend/coworker, Barb in HR, who every year sends out a class announcement titled, “How to Make Babies at [Company Name].” Without fail, the twitters of laughter rise up collectively as the all-employee email arrives. Everyone knows the class is about benefits, maternity leave, paternity leave and paperwork, but it’s perennially funny.

Practice Makes Perfect

As we grow older and more married, it’s interesting how attitudes toward baby making changes. There was a time when a fireside night of passion on a bearskin rug was the ultimate. Now it seems our passion for our pillows overrules. Maybe it’s true that love changes into something more comfortable. Or maybe, as studies show married people do the horizontal mambo two times per week, it’s that props like an itchy animal skin just simply lose their appeal. Twice a week is a lot of four legged follies to fit in.

However, if making babies is the goal, my friend Rebecca had a great formula. Early in her marriage, she instituted a no-TV night. Every Tuesday after the kids were in bed, she and her husband Rudy would both read their books. I think the reading often took place in bedroom. Anyway, this seemed a very effective baby-making formula – they had four babies back-to-back-to-back.

The Old Poetry Reading

Our most recent couples’ book club choice was a book of poetry, Red Bird by Mary Oliver. I ran into my friend Shannon at school one Friday. She said she and her husband Ian were going to drink wine by the fire that night and read the poetry to each other. Stupidly, I laughed…I guess because their evening sounded so perfect. She seemed hurt. After I successfully smoothed things over—I have a lot of experience smoothing over stupid things I say—I went home and got jealous.

I told my husband about their evening. I wanted a romantic-poetry-reading-evening, too. That next weekend I coerced him to get out the poetry book after the kids were asleep. We read a few selections by the fire but the night was a total flop, even though the poems were amazing. We felt phony copying their date.

At book club, Shannon said her own fire-wine-poetry evening had been a failure. They read for a while, but got bored and “took the party upstairs.” Yes, TMI. So, the night may have been a failure from a literary perspective, but not from a baby making one, which may be the whole point of poetry anyway. Add “poetry reading” to your list of euphemisms.

The Talk

The greatest irony is that someday we’ll all have to explain to our kids how we made them in the first place. And it won’t be easy. My friend Beth’s daughter Lilly was getting to that age. So Beth sat Lilly down one day to explain the birds and the bees. Central to this discussion, she explained about a woman’s reproductive system and the menstrual cycle, and how bearing children and ‘Aunt Flo’ was the burden and joy of women throughout the ages. When she was finished, Beth was pleased with herself that she’d explained it all so well. She asked Lilly if she had any questions.

“Yes, mom,” said Lilly, “Has Sam (her older brother) gotten his period yet, too?”

Baking Cookies

Long ago when we were first dating, my husband-to-be and I were out getting groceries for a special dinner. I was waiting at the meat counter to order steaks when my husband came up to me and said, “Ask them if they have tube steak.” I didn’t think much of it and assumed it was a special cut or something. The longer I stood there, though, the more I read the options in front of me. Tube steak, of course, wasn’t one of them. As it dawned on me that tube steak was instead a euphemism, I turned around to see him grinning at his joke. He didn’t get his steak that night, or his dessert, as it were, either. Using the other person for humor isn’t a great recipe for, um, baking cookies.

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