Sunday, November 13, 2011
Let's talk about (infertile) sex
Despite this blog being 99.99% about my long, winding journey towards successful conception, I don't think I've ever had a frank sex talk on here. Granted, if you're reading this chances are you too are dealing with infertility so don't worry: I won't try to teach you about the "birds & the bees" or insinuate that perhaps you"re "doing it wrong". Rather, I'm wanting to know how other infertile couples deal with issues surrounding sex in the relationship.
Back story: Much to the chagrin of our parents no doubt, Vid & I did not wait til we we married to do the deed. Vid was a stereotypical Indian male grad student when we met (meaning: had barely kissed a girl) & I was his first, or as he says "You took away my innocence". LOL. Anyways, it's not like I was a wild child by any means; my husband's actually the only man I've ever had sex with sans condom. And we didn't even go sans condom until after we were engaged. So we were doubling up (condoms & BCPs) because even though we both wanted children relatively quickly after marriage, we did not want to deal with the possibility of shaming his parents back in India with a bastard child (his words, not mine).
Vid & I started TTC not long after we were married. I went off BCPs, started charting & was pleasantly surprised that I had a very predictable menstrual cycle. Knowing it can take a healthy couple up to a year to conceive I told myself as long as I was pregnant by my 30th birthday (then about 10 months away) I would not make myself nuts. In the meantime, we had sex when I was fertile according to the OPKs & whenever the mood struck us.
Then, I turned 30. And I started freaking out. I began turning into what Vid termed an "intercourse Nazi", making him have sex multiple times in a day. You'd think a woman that demanding in bed would be any guy's dream but the reality was sex was becoming more of a chore than a fun thing we got to do as a couple. Poor Vid ended up with performance anxiety a few times & I ended up hating myself for turning into "that woman".
And just after we hit the year mark of TTC, a miracle occurred. Or so we thought. I got a positive pregnancy test. It was on a Saturday morning, the weekend before Father's Day. I remember Vid asking me "What is that?" & me wanting to smack him because wasn't it obvious? We were pregnant!
I planned on calling my PCP on Monday morning. Ah, those were the days: when I had only 1 doctor looking @ my lady garden, & then only once a year for a routine check up. Those were the days! But I never got to make that call on Monday. In the wee hours of Monday morning I woke up from a sound sleep to the most horrible cramps ever. I went to the bathroom & saw bright red blood. It was over before it had even began. And so along with the pair of ruined underwear I also threw out my cutesy plan of telling my parents with a "Happy Father's Day, Grandpa" card the following weekend.
The following month we had our first visit with an RE & Vid was referred to a uro for a work up as well. My husband is not the greatest with medical procedures: I have to hold his hand when he gets bloodwork done as he starts sweating & you can see his color drain; he's Dravidian & therefore pretty dark skinned so it's quite amazing to watch. Anyways, much to his chagrin he also had to "do it in a cup", but his "guys" (I love his way of looking @ things) were ok. On my end, I was found to have borderline IR & some borderline PCOS bloodwork but then again my cycles were super normal & besides obesity I didn't fit the PCOS profile.
An answer! Yeah, no. But @ least now we were doing fertility treatments so surely we'd get pregnant soon. When we started doing IUIs we kind of laid off (ha! very punny!) the sex for a bit. It's not like we weren't having it, but it certainly wasn't as often as before. About once a week, plus the day after an IUI for extra insurance.
After a half dozen IUIs leading to no pregnancy I begged, pleaded & practically cried for an exploratory lap. Besides a wee bit hanging out behind my left fallopian tube, no endo was to be found. At this point, I was *this close* to checking myself into a padded room. And I was pretty much an ice queen when it came to sex. Vid didn't say anything but I'm sure it bothered him. I felt bad about it because I obviously love my husband, but I just felt like such a failure as a wife that I could not give my husband a child even with medical intervention, so why bother trying anymore?
Fast forward a year & another 2 failed IUIs & here we are: once Vid has his surgery later this month & heals up, we're heading into IVF-ville. We had a period of time earlier this year that we didn't have sex for about 3 months between having to deal with my mom-in-law in India & Vid's hernia issue. We survived so I guess I know we can make it should we ever have the pleasure actually having a baby & needing to abstain post-partum for a long period of time.
Right now we're getting busy a couple times a month. Not great but not horrible I guess. I could use the excuse of our schedules being incredibly out of synch & I would not be lying since we both work full time & are in grad school as well. Some nights Vid doesn't get home til after 10 & some nights I don't. On those nights, I just want to shower & go to bed.
The funny thing is even though we aren't having sex as often as we probably should according to most, I don't feel deprived of love. We do have "snuggle time" several times a week where we set the alarm 15 minutes or so early & just lie together in bed, snuggled tight.
Still, I can't help but wonder "what if". What if we could get pregnant by just having sex? Would we look @ sex in the same way? Sex is now a disappointment, not in that I don't enjoy it with my husband (I do) but in that I know it will never make me a mom. I no longer associate it with procreation. I don't worry about avoiding my fertile times if we didn't want to be pregnant because I could hump day & night & never again see 2 pink lines. I will never have to worry about having Irish twins; at this point I'd welcome them!
But the reality is we're likely 1 & done @ this point. If IVF works & we end up with twins (BOGO free) that'd be awesome. And yes, I am aware of the risks that come with multiples, but having a guaranteed sibling would be great. I know many only children end up perfectly fine socially but I feel like I'm denying my kid (if I ever have one) this experience. If I had any frozen embies I'd try to use them but I'm not counting on anything anymore. I'd like to count on us having a more "normal" (regular?) sex life but maybe the damage has already been done. Something else to bring up in therapy perhaps? What say you?