When you're a couple going through infertility, your sex life changes drastically, and a lot of the time, it’s not for the better. In fact, infertility is pretty stressful, and unsexy, and, well, there’s not even a lot of sex involved anyway.
We used to do all the romantic stuff. We started dating when I was eighteen, so the red teddy bears and over-the-top bouquets are kind of behind us. When we want to celebrate our partnership these days, we tend to give each other a new kitchen gadget or a gift card for Mexican food. And of course have the sex.
But this year, that isn't in the cards. Let me paint you a picture: It’s 9 o’clock, the night before your embryo transfer. You’re freaking exhausted because the hormones you’re on are at a higher dose than normal, since your estrogen levels weren’t cooperating according to the fertility doctor. You want to go to bed because your procedure is at the ass-crack of dawn the next morning, but you can’t because your progesterone injection is due at 9 and your partner still needs to give it to you. You can’t drink wine during fertility treatments, so you’re even more irritated than usual. You slowly lower your pants* as your partner gets behind you (*pajama pants in the next size up because you’re bloated from the medications). There’s a poke of the needle, and pain and you grit your teeth to keep from hollering out some choice words. You can’t have sex because it would mess up the procedure to have semen sitting around in your vagina. You fall asleep in each other’s arms.
No sex. No orgasm. Plenty of take-out pizza in the hotel watching House Hunters.
Yes, conceiving a baby can be really sexy, or really awkward. Having gone through infertility since 2009, I can definitely remember having and enjoying baby-making sex — it didn’t work, but it was a nice gesture.
As a couple for whom the au naturale method wasn't working, we moved onto spending the morning hanging out in stirrups with my husband holding my hand and my doctor — cute, but still — impregnating me with two teeny little embryos that we hope to the ends of the Earth turn into at least one little bundle of joy by the end of the year. I’ll be laying flat on my back, completely devoid of underwear and modesty, as I try and remember if I shaved that morning.
Afterward, I’ll lay still on the table before my husband rolls me out to the car via hospital-grade wheelchair and we head back to the hotel. There won’t be any sexy time for the next month and I’ll even get a warning not to have an orgasm during that time.
No sex. No orgasm. Plenty of take-out pizza in the hotel watching House Hunters. Probably heartburn from trying to eat pizza laying down on bed rest. Definitely a shot of progesterone in the ass.
Yes. This is what romantic love looks like when you’re trying to have a baby, but you can’t because you’re infertile. Everything is dictated by my menstruation cycle.
All I can do is laugh through the absurdity of it all and try not to get in any fights with my husband. He’s the one that holds the needle. I’ll be embracing the big embryo transfer day for what it is: A day of love.
A day to remember that my husband and I are more than the appointments, the rigid schedule, the shots, the stress. Absolutely nothing this year looks like in years’ past.