I think intimacy is a beautiful thing, much like everyone else, I’d assume.
I also have genuinely enjoyed being intimate with my husband since the start of our relationship. But our sex lives, and our attitudes toward having sex changed drastically over 2+ years of TTC (trying to conceive), and it’s not something I ever could’ve predicted.
Why, you ask?
Because NOBODY TALKS ABOUT THAT!
Every infertility blogger or Instagram Account I came across sharing moments of the infertility journey, support for fertility treatments, etc., glossed right over the fact that TRYING, really trying to have a baby, it’s not all beautiful. It’s logical and scientific. It involves tracking and planning and scheduling.
It changes intimacy.
It changes the conversations between partners.
It changed everything for us, really.
How does it change, you ask?
Before TTC, my husband and I had spontaneous sex, wherever and whenever we wanted. The frequency didn’t matter. The timing didn’t matter. The positioning didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, besides our innate desire to connect and to pleasure each other. Sex was fun and flirty. Sex was lighthearted and an emotional release. There were no expectations, no requirements, no rules.
That type of intimacy was all we’d known. So, when several months passed and we hadn’t “fallen” pregnant, we got more serious about our TTC methods. I began doing the un-fun things like taking ovulation tests daily, tracking my cycle, monitoring my cervical mucus and more - things that feel sort of awkward to share but are legitimately paramount to the trying part of TTC.
Sex immediately became more of a requirement for both of us - when to be intimate and when to abstain, the frequency and duration tied directly to where in my cycle I was and very little to when we were in the mood. For one or two or five months, I imagine this could’ve been okay. That we would’ve gotten our big fat positive (BFP) and celebrated, and our pregnancy and postpartum sex lives would’ve fallen right back into place.
If you’re reading this blog, you likely know that a) our journey was much longer than a few months, and b) you may be in the midst of your own infertility journey, so I want to talk about what this really looked and felt like for me.
Sex for a Baby
In my experience, the more we tried to have a baby, the more we became willing to try anything.
Have sex every other day of your cycle until your ‘fertile window’? Okay.
Have sex every day in your fertile window? Okay.
Don’t have sex the last week of your cycle? Okay.
Don’t use K-Y Jelly? Okay.
It only takes one, people would repeat. I kept trying to believe it. I did. But the more that months passed, the more I felt like I was doing something wrong. That something inside me was broken. Surely we’d had enough well timed intercourse by then to become parents, right? Well, no.
Conception is just not cut and dry for many people. We were in that category.
After a whole bunch of testing, my husband and I were diagnosed with Unexplained Infertility (UI) after 15+ months of trying to conceive. This meant that there was no biologic or medical reason that we’d been unsuccessful. As I’ve shared before, that was both a blessing and a curse.
We proceeded to do four consecutive rounds of Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) - a less invasive fertility treatment that still included required days of abstaining and highly recommended days of being intimate. Each round, for me, the pressure increased. During our third round, my husband didn’t feel well after a busy day and wasn’t up for having sex. This was a very important day in our cycle, and I remember feeling so frustrated and disappointed and even angry that he wasn’t able to be intimate with me. I immediately thought “here goes another month.”
That thought was so unfair to him, and to our relationship.
The mounting demands on our sex life completely destroyed the vibes and intentions it once held.
As we transitioned from failed IUI’s to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), we were told that intimacy was not recommended as it could interfere with the IVF process.
We again had to plan for this.
The week before we started IVF medications, we had real intimacy. The first time in a very long time that felt like it was supposed to - effortless. Relaxing. Connecting. It renewed us both as we headed into a season of injections and procedures and hopes and fears and emotions.
Here’s something else we didn’t know when we began treatments: sex is discouraged for a period of time post embryo transfer.
By the time we we coasted into early pregnancy, sex felt foreign to us both. It had been so long since we’d just had sex to enjoy each other, and we were honestly unsure of how to get back to it. Add in the all day morning sickness I experienced and the exhaustion of pregnancy, and sex was again, different than what we’d once known.
Later this week I’ll talk about Sex AFTER Baby, things I recommend & some great resources, but today I want to leave this here:
If you’ve at anytime felt like TTC has become clinical or removed the level of intimacy between you and your partner, I see you.
If you are frustrated, sad, disappointed or angry that you haven’t conceived while having beautiful intimacy, I see you.
If you miss your pre-ttc sex life, I see you.
If you miss pleasurable sex, I see you.
If you miss easy, non-scheduled sex, I see you.
You’re not alone at any point in this journey, and what you’re feeling is completely & honestly so normal and valid.
I see you.