At first, the baby-making sex my husband and I were having was incredible. We were five years into our marriage and had both come to the realization that we really wanted to have a child together. There was something very liberating about going off the pill. More than just the hormones being out of my body, I think it was extra exciting for both of us to know that there was truly nothing between us and that the sex we were having would result in the ultimate expression of our love: a baby.
We took a vacation shortly after stopping birth control and I was certain—a little nervous, even—that we would get pregnant. When I got my period during sex in our hotel room, I was disappointed but figured it was no biggie. Six months later, I found myself in a doctor's office on the Upper East Side, trying to figure out why I wasn't getting knocked up.
I had heard that since I was over 35 (by one year!), my chances of getting pregnant were lower, but I wasn't deterred. I wasn't ready to try Clomid, which was what my doctor suggested. Instead, I chose to start keeping track of my cycle with a handy app a friend had told me about. The plan was we would strategically have sex right before and during the time I was ovulating. This is where things for us as a couple started to go downhill.
My husband hated this new "sex on a schedule" plan I had instituted. He claimed that it took away all of the excitement and spontaneity, which was true. But I was a woman on a mission. The more months that passed without a positive pregnancy test, the more obsessive I became about trying to correctly time intercourse. What was once a pleasurable activity and a way to connect with my husband became a chore.
I was in real danger of losing the man I loved—and wasn't our love the whole reason we wanted to start a family in the first place?
My husband really wanted a family too, so he went along with my requests, but I could feel the distance growing between us. Strangely, I think he took the fertility testing harder than I did. I became very pragmatic—spreading my legs for whatever test was needed, without thinking twice. But when the doctor suggested we get his sperm evaluated, he seemed really cut down by that. I didn't have the energy to comfort him. I wanted to have a baby and I thought he was being childish.
One night, when we were having baby-making sex (the only kind we had anymore), something strange happened. My hubs could not perform. I had to stop for a second and regroup. It dawned on me that in my quest to have a baby, I was in real danger of losing the man I loved—and wasn't our love the whole reason we wanted to start a family in the first place?
As difficult a decision as it was for me, we agreed to take a break from trying. At that point, I had done three unsuccessful IUIs (intra-uterine inseminations). Part of me worried that time taken off was unwise; my eggs were getting older by the day and it was becoming obvious that the next step would be to try IVF. I packed a bag full of bikinis, sunscreen and not much else, and we flew to the Caribbean for a long weekend.
That trip was one of the best we have ever taken together. Suddenly, the pressure was off. We talked, took long walks together, drank lots of piña coladas (I hadn't touched a drop of alcohol in months) and, yes, had sex. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking in the back of my mind maybe this would be the time that worked, but it was still easier and more fun than any of the scheduled sex we'd been having.
After that trip, during which I did NOT get pregnant, I stopped tracking my ovulation on my phone and tried to bring back some of the fun from before our baby-making days, like wearing lingerie to bed and even having spontaneous, middle-of-the-afternoon sex.
Now that I'm about to start my third cycle of IVF, I won't lie and say that our sex life has gone back to its previously hot levels. I don't want to let my husband come anywhere that isn't inside my vagina. Some people might think that sounds crazy but, to me, it's not. There's a ton of stress and anxiety that comes along with unexplained infertility. But at least now we have an open dialogue, and we can respect when the other person needs to take a minute for themselves. Whether we end up with a baby or its just the two of us, I know one thing for sure: I don't want to lose my lover and my best friend in the process.