Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sex Life? What Sex Life?

I think that this is one of the least discussed topics during the ART process, however, the issue is very real. All too often, I hear of couples going through treatment who start having marital problems. Some marriages survive the process, others don't. The one thing that I have learned is that you need to be in this process as a couple, and if needed, an outside unbiased person such as a social worker or a psychologist should be sought out...and there is nothing wrong with this. My husband and I are both in therapy, separately, but we go. We both use therapy as an outlet. It is a way to discuss and deal with the emotions that go along with this journey. I still remember an argument that my husband and I got into right after our third loss. I was so confused and angry over the loss, that I looked for reasons to be mad at him. After each of the losses, we really didn't grieve as a couple. He can't stand to see me cry so he would avoid the situation entirely. Don't get me wrong, he was there every step of the way, but when it came to talking about the loss together, he was absent. We have now worked through it and I have learned that he thought by talking about it with me, that it would just upset me more and this is the one thing he didn't want to do. It was all just a lack of communication. We are now very vocal about the feelings surrounding the losses and those around the upcoming cycle.

The other aspect of this is the sexual part. Face it, without it, you can't make a baby. Most of us have started this process by using basal body temperatures, ovulation charts and timed intercourse as a means of getting pregnant. This means that sex turns from a pleasurable experience, to a carefully timed robotic act. You engage in it because you have to. I still remember one cycle very clearly. I had come down with the flu and I felt pretty much like I was hit by a bus. However, that morning my fertility monitor indicated that I was at peak fertility. This meant that it was time to do the deed. Did I want to? Absolutely not! Did I feel I had to because if I didn't we would miss our golden opportunity for the month? Sure did! Without getting too graphic I remember that I was running a fever so I was shivering violently thinking that I couldn't wait for it to be over. After starting fertility treatment, I was relieved at first as I thought that the whole process of timed sex was over. Little did I know that with IUI and IVF, there was a whole other set of "rules" that now applied. The first thing I learned is that my husband had to "clean his pipes" two to five days prior to the IUI or IVF. Then there was the collection process and then the IUI followed by "follow up sex" to increase our chances of conceiving. With IVF you are told to completely abstain from intercourse until your Beta test. You would think that things would be normal after that but with the use of vaginal progesterone, lets just say we both didn't have an interest in being intimate as it is the grossest thing ever! Following that I was either pregnant and had to continue the vaginal progesterone or I would have a failed cycle and have to start all over again. To make matters worse, every time I had a D&C we couldn't have sex for at least 2 weeks not to mention that after my second D&C I was catheterized for 6 weeks due to complications. Now I am currently recovering after having uterine surgery on April 12th and then again on April 28th. So since August of 2009 I have either been recovering from a loss, in a cycle, or dealing with other medical issues. So when has there been time to be intimate? The one thing that has really helped my husband and I through all of this is talking about it. I think the worst thing that a couple can do during this process is not communicate with each other. Has this been easy for us? Not by any means! All I can say is that I am looking forward to this all being a distant nightmare so my husband and I can get back to our normal lives. The light at the end of the tunnel is knowing that this is just a temporary journey and it will one day come to an end...hopefully a happy one.

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