let's talk about sex

The Day Your Baby Calls Your Boyfriend ‘Daddy’

Photo: Getty Images

Three years ago, Alyssa Shelasky wrote, “I Love Men, But I’m Thinking About Having a Baby Without One.” Two years ago, she did it, using an anonymous sperm donor. One year ago, she visited the Sex Lives podcast to talk about dating while breastfeeding an 8-month-old daughter. And today, Alyssa is back with another update: She isn’t single anymore. After falling in love fast, she’s house-hunting with the boyfriend her daughter calls “Daddy.” On this week’s Sex Lives, Alyssa discusses romance during early motherhood, her outlook on family, and learning to have sex with a bra on. (Breastfeeding changed everything.)

This is a partial transcript of New York Magazine’s Sex Lives podcast, edited for clarity and length.

What has your love life been like?

When I was here last time, I had just met my boyfriend. It’s been a little over a year, and I was here exactly a year ago. I remember sitting in the seat and being like, “Don’t fuck it up, Shelasky! He’s so good, don’t say anything that’s going to get you in trouble.” And I’m still sort of sitting here telling myself not to fuck it up.

I met a great guy. The story we tell everyone is that we met at Vinegar Hill House for Bloody Marys, when in fact we met on Tinder while I was breastfeeding. And then our first date was Bloody Marys at Vinegar Hill House.

I was breastfeeding around the clock. It was 3 a.m. and I’d watched every TV show, and listened to all your podcasts, and I think Tinder was the only dating app I had left on my phone. I just wanted to chat. I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wasn’t looking for my soulmate. But I wanted to flirt. I missed flirting.

When you met him and started liking him, did you immediately think, “Could this be a father for my child?”

Totally not. No. I don’t want to sound cold, but the short way of saying it is: I never cared about finding a father. I knew I was enough [for] Hazel. People would always say when I was pregnant, “You’re going get a guy right away. You’ll meet a divorced dad.” And I was always like, “Eh, maybe.” That was so not the point — to get the pregnancy over so I could go and find a husband? I loved being a single mom. I loved this image of the future I had for the two of us. And so it’s all reversed — I’ve had to get used to sharing her, and the idea of maybe not being a single mom.

But if Hazel and I did have to adopt a dad, it would be him. There’s literally nobody better on the planet than him.

Is falling in love different now that you have a daughter?

Yeah, it’s all different. I used to want to be so hot, and so cool, and look awesome, and be great at sex, and all these things — and I was, but it wasn’t 100 percent natural. But when you have a baby, you can’t think about any of that. Forget “Do I look hot?” It’s more like, “When was the last time I flossed my teeth? Or took a shower?”

So the good news about dating with a baby is that the person sees the real you — and you at your worst — right away. And that’s good news, because they choose to love you anyway. Or even because of it. But that’s also the bad news. Because you don’t get to have those nights where, like, you shave your body head to toe, and you have wine while getting ready for a night where you’re going to have two more bottles of wine, and wear the right perfume.

What does she call him?

I swear on my life, I don’t know how — there was no coaxing — but she does call him “Daddy.” It happened when she started to get verbal. I assume she heard the word from her cousins, and it comes up in books. He was just delighted every time it came up. It was never awkward. Like, his heart would explode. And he said to me many times that it’s a title he would be honored to have.

Do you remember the first time she did that?

She called everything “dada” for a while. Dogs were dada, my sister was dada, he was dada. So that warmed us up. We went to his sister’s wedding, and it was beautiful, and of course the minute when he walked down the aisle with his mom, my daughter screamed, “Dada!”

Did everyone melt?

No. Or, probably. But we were still, like, new.

Oh, I see. So everyone was like, “So that’s the deal with those two. Thanks, little baby.”


The Day Your Baby Calls Your Boyfriend ‘Daddy’