Trying for a baby is taking all the joy out of our sex life
It’s 7.30 on a Thursday morning. The post-coital glow quickly dissipates as I get out of bed and give my wife a perfunctory nod. She is distracted and is adding the time and a record of our activity to an app on her phone. While we are trying very hard to make a life, somewhere along the way something has died.
I like sex and believe it to be an important component in a loving relationship. I have been blessed with a healthy, regular intimacy with my wife. But lately, everything has become rather – how do I say this? – mechanical. We rely on diaries and ovulation aids, rather than luck and seduction.
It was not always thus. Initially in our relationship there were fireworks, as in most new loves. Sometimes there were several fireworks a day in various locations. These fizzled out over time, but have remained regular. Every so often, when the touch paper is lit, they explode unexpectedly again in impromptu displays that the neighbours can sometimes hear. These are always the moments of intimacy and excitement that reconnect us when the banality of everyday life gets in the way. They are the little reminders of the passionate people we were and can still be.
Eventually, after several carefree years of courtship and marriage, talk of children surfaced and recently we went to discuss matters with a fertility specialist (we are both over 40, so there are no guarantees). I was heartened to be told that to maximise our changes we should be having regular sex. That’s sex, on prescription, as advised by a clinician. Naturally, I had a spring my step after the appointment and in the days that followed, as I reminded my better half of this medical recommendation.
Naively and hopefully, I envisaged that the fertility mission would be accomplished with the sexual equivalent of a sustained campaign of indiscriminate carpet-bombing, which I was very much looking forward to. The reality, however, was a little more meticulous and it became apparent that, rather than shock-and-awe, we were instead going to be conducting a series of carefully controlled and targeted surgical strikes. Each was concentrated within a five-day fertility window and dictated almost to the minute by an app, which alerted us each month when the time had come to launch Operation Conception.
Day one was always a relief, coming as it usually did after a period of abstinence. Days two and three weren’t bad either. But by days four and five, the intimacy had drained from the experience and both of us knew we were just going through the motions. The pressure to perform sucked the romance and excitement from the occasion. My wife marshalled and organised. I felt like a cow being milked.
I know I should be grateful and should look at these monthly opportunities as a time of bounty. And they are by no means unpleasant. We do laugh about them and share our thoughts and feelings honestly. My wife often feels the same way. We both accept that the carefree love life we enjoyed early in our relationship was of a time and that now there is a bigger purpose. Yet I still mourn the thrill of desire for desire’s sake, and there is a small, perhaps insecure and egotistical part of me that begrudges having to perform at set times, much like an actor playing to an audience that has only turned up because the tickets are free, not because they are necessarily eager to see the show.
I am an optimist, however, and I hope that after a successful mission, normal service will resume somewhere down the line. I am also a realist and recognise that with a baby in town, there may well be a lengthy ceasefire first.