Infertility & Romance. Romance? What Romance?

Couple in bed

The truth is: Infertility can suck the life out of a couple. But you probably already knew that.

Infertility just makes it too easy to fall into that bottomless hormone-filled swamp of anger and accusations- that cesspool of mental, physical, emotional, social, and financial exhaustion. Now that I’ve painted you a pretty, sweet-smelling picture…

Infertility takes all of the mystery out of romance. Before infertility, when we were all still normal people, you’d have a nice date, some dinner, maybe a movie, or a long walk, maybe some smooching on the couch, which may or may not lead to sex.

But when you’re dealing with infertility and fertility treatments, our whole thought process changes during that “right time” of the month. All we think is: “It’s got to lead to sex. There must be sex. There’s no point to the rest of the date if there is no sex.” Infertility has turned us all into 17 year old boys. The irony, of course, being that the last thing on a 17 year old boy’s mind at that moment is the only thing on our minds: Pregnancy.

And for most of us, the date part falls by the wayside. Going out and having fun knowing that it must, at all costs, end in intercourse stresses us out way too much. Half of the time, we just as soon skip the date and cut to the chase and usually end up saying something incredibly heartfelt and sexy like:

“Can we just get this over with? Look, I don’t feel like it either but you don’t hear me complaining… Where’s my phone? Let me just send this text while you’re down there.”

We’ve gone from:

“Hey baby, I’m liking what I’m seeing. Why don’t you bring it over and let me nibble on it?” to:

“Will you turn off Family Guy and get over here? Can’t you hear my ovulation window creaking shut?!”

And when we actually do have good old-fashioned spontaneous, the-doctor-didn’t-tell-us-to, sex we usually wind it up with:

“Oh, that was really nice” followed by “but what was the point?”

It’s not just the intercourse, it’s any lovey-doveyness. Let’s face it: Infertility makes us cranky. We find ourselves saying such niceties to our partner like:

“You know, nobody ever said you have to touch my butt to put a needle in it.”

In fact, our motto for all aspects of our relationship has become:

“Just stick it in and get it over with.”

We think the same way about sex when it’s not the designated “right time” as we do about turkey a week before Thanksgiving.

“Ugh I don’t want any now. Before you know it, we’ll be having it every day at least twice a day. We’ll be so sick of it.”

Sex went from a night of passion with someone we adore to #5 on the to-do list:

  1. Get blood tested and uterine lining checked
  2. Pick-up prescriptions
  3. Buy cat food and bread
  4. Call nurse for blood results
  5. Sex
  6. Plunge sink

We don’t feel like wives, girlfriends, spouses, partners, or lovers anymore. We feel like fertility patients. It’s bad enough that “sex” made it onto our to-do list let alone that it comes in at “#5” between “call nurse for blood results” and “plunge sink”. (At least I’m making unclogging my husband a slightly higher priority than unclogging my sink. Progress, right?)

Then sometimes we try to overcompensate. We work too hard to put the romance back into our relationship. Those hormones are noshing at our brains and we’re emotionally spent and we say something crazy that sounds normal to us at the time, like:

“You never surprise me anymore. Why don’t you do something romantic… like… I don’t know… see if the doctor can put a diamond ring in my ovary and then during the retrieval say: ‘We got out 12 eggs… and..oh… what have we here?’… I shouldn’t always have to be the one to come up with these things!”

So no matter what the hormones and the exhaustion are telling us to do, we should slowly ease that romance back into the relationship: Hold hands that don’t have a calendar or a syringe in it. Acknowledge that no matter which of you “has the problem” that this is a trying time for both of you. On those days when ovulation is off the table (a pun if you like), movies, walks, museums, karaoke, TV marathons, sports – you know… a lot of “above the waist” time.

Lori Shandle-Fox‘s humor and non-humor writing have appeared in: The Washington Post, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer et al. Lori’s book about her own infertility / IUI/ IVF/ FET journey: Laughing IS Conceivable: One Woman’s Extremely Funny Peek into the Extremely Unfunny World of Infertility can be found on her blog, Amazon, B & N, & Kobo. Laughing IS Conceivable

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