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?


Her Royal Fabulousness said...

I could have written this post myself. DH and I are VERY affectionate, loving, and adore each other. But, we have never been incredibly regular with our sex habits and probably never will be. Neither of us has an intense sex drive, and the stress of TTC hasn't helped. There are times when we make more of an effort (vacation, the really rare times I ovulate, after coming home from parties on occasion) but the day-to-day is way more couch cuddles than hump. I'm ok with it, esp since we couldn't get pregnant anyway, due to my anovulation. IVF it is! Looks like we will be IVF buddies in January, right?

Amanda said...

I just found your blog. This post is one I could have written myself! Funny - when you need sex for babies, you can have it everyday twice a day, but then when babies are out of the equation, it isn't as desirable. As long as there is still intimacy in the marriage, I think you are still good. I hope things get easier for us both in time!