Whoever said, “Getting pregnant’s the fun part!” clearly humped twice and got knocked up.
Sure, in the beginning it’s exciting. You and your partner have decided it’s time to start a family. It’s romantic. For the first time you’re being intimate to create life. How beautiful is that? And for most people, that’s the way it happens. But what about for the rest of us?
I thought I’d be pregnant after my honeymoon. When I realized I wasn’t, I told myself I just needed to let birth control work its way out of my system. At that point we weren’t “trying.” We just weren’t being careful. Which, a lot of times is all it takes.
Fast forward to eight months later and I was regularly peeing on a stick, praying for a smiley face to let me know I was fertile. When I would get a smiley face, it was go time. But it wasn’t that simple. To really increase our chances of conceiving, we’d have to time it so Michael would abstain for two days prior to my fertile days. This ensured his sperm count was high enough to actually do the job.
For a good while we would just have sex everyday. Then we found out that when a man ejaculates, his sperm needs 24-36 hours to replenish itself. So all of those times we were banging, were completely worthless. See how the whole idea of sex begins to shift? Sex starts out as being intimate and close with your partner, something that would never be deemed “worthless.” Before you know it, you’re resenting your partner for having sex with him when conceiving a baby couldn’t be the outcome.
Let’s talk about the actual act itself. This is another one of those things that starts out super fun and quickly fizzles into some sort of robotic act of mating. We googled every best position to increase chances of conception. So during the “love making”, we’d have full conversations like we were two doctors performing surgery. '‘Okay now put your leg here. Is this what the picture online looks like? Do you feel like your sperm is strong today? My basal body temperature was only 99 degrees, so I’m pretty sure ovulation won’t occur for a day or two. Did you go to acupuncture this morning? Ok, let’s do this position today. Then tomorrow at 7pm, we’ll give the legs to the side position a shot. Be sure to mark it on your calendar. I don’t want there to be a missed opportunity here.”
Then once the sperm were on their way to my egg, it was time to lay with my legs in the air for 20 minutes. This was to allow gravity to help things along and ensure that none of it “got loose” by standing up too quickly after.
This peeing on a stick, only having sex during my fertile days, and laying with my legs in the air for twenty minutes after, went on until we finally met with our fertility doctor. That’s when we really took our sex life to the next level.
First of all, we had to abstain during all of the testing. This ended up being about three months, which at the time seemed like forever, but now that’s cake walk. Michael would also have to abstain from relieving himself for 36 hours prior to his testing. And then he’d have to go in and make love to himself in a small room that contained a couch and some random porn.
I give guys a ton of credit for being able to perform under pressure. We all know when a man walks into a fertility clinic alone, they’re there to put out. They always walk in, head down, refusing to make eye contact with anyone. Once the sperm is collected, they sprint out the door, feeling shame for just yanking it, right down the hall from 30 strangers.
Once our tests determined that we had “unexplained infertility,” it was time to move forward. So our doctor wrote us our very first protocol. The protocol was hormones paired with timed intercourse. I was to take the oral hormone Clomid. If you’re unfamiliar with what this naughty, little devil of a hormone does; it sends a message to your pituitary gland that causes you body to create more follicle stimulating hormone. This helps the production of follicles that contain eggs for you to ovulate.
So I ingested this little pill that quickly brought on insane hot flashes, mood swings, and severe headaches. In the midst of taking Clomid, I would go in regularly for ultrasounds to make sure my body was producing strong enough follicles for us to continue with our protocol.
When we got the green light, I stopped the Clomid and Michael gave me my very first injection. This was a trigger shot that would induce ovulation 36 hours after it was administered. Dr. SanFillipo had specific times, over the five days following the injection, for us to have timed intercourse.
This was all fine and dandy, except for one minor detail. We were flying to Florida the next morning to join my husband’s entire family on vacation. When we arrived, we discovered that we’d be staying right next door to my mother and father-in-law. Not only did we share a wall, we shared a door. We were in an adjoining hotel room to my in-laws and we had to have sex multiple times over the next few days.
During our very first act “time-sensitive, position-specific, love making,” I was incredibly paranoid and self-conscious that they could hear us. We put the tv on volume 100, and tried to be as discreet as possible on the loudest mattress I’ve ever experienced in my life. Mid intercourse, my allergies started to act up. I quietly sneezed a few times, gathered myself, and we continued. Once the deed was done, I assumed the position; legs up in the air, and set a timer on my phone.
While I was lying there like a dead bug, we heard a knock at the door. It was my mother-in-law. Michael cracked open the door, and she handed him an allergy pill for me. If she heard my soft sneezes, she more than likely heard it all. This is when a big portion of my humility went out the window. Little did I know there would be none left by the time I actually had a baby.
We went back and forth between hormones with timed intercourse and IUI’s, almost every month of that year. After over a year of unsuccessfully trying to conceive the most natural way we knew how, we finally gave into the idea of IVF.
IVF completely eliminates intimacy between a couple. You have to abstain during testing. You have to abstain during cycling. You have to abstain before and after the transfer. There is absolutely zero physical contact that goes into making your baby.
And then, once I actually get pregnant, I’m scared to death to have sex. I’m convinced it’s going to knock the baby loose. So let’s do the math here. I transferred in September. It’s November. We're going on two months of no sex in the champagne room. None.
Before you know it, you’ve become so accustom to having zero sex life, that it becomes the norm. It almost becomes a foreign concept to have sex for pleasure. And the scary part is, once you fall out of the routine of being intimate with your partner, it’s not that easy to find your way back. It actually takes work.
Trying to conceive can do a real number to your relationship. It can bring you together and make you even stronger, but it can also really pull you a part. It’s not fucking easy. And it’s certainly not “the fun part.”
The one upside to infertility is when my daughter asks me how babies are made, I don’t have to answer that question the “natural” way until I think she's ready. My answer will simply sound like this:
“Well honey. When two people love each other very much, they go see a doctor. That doctor then makes them a perfect little baby in his lab and puts it into the mommy’s belly. The end.”
Birds and bees? No. No. Test tubes and catheters.