The strangeness of sex

During the past few weeks, DH and I have not been as sexual together as we usually are, for obvious reasons. We’ve had our moments, but it was hard for me to feel sexy with bruises on my bloated belly. But we want it back as soon as possible. We aren’t supposed to have actual intercourse until after I get my period, but last night, for the first time in what felt like ages, we fooled around in the shower.

Everything was fine at first. Playful. Affectionate. But when it crossed over from affectionate to sexy, my mind started going to very un-sexy places.

I looked down at my body. I saw that it is still young. I started having these grasping, irrational thoughts: You should take photos of your body so that you remember what you looked like when you were young, because you’re not going to see yourself in your daughters. And then you’re going to get old and die. 

Not exactly the stuff of sex talk.

I should explain that we got the call last night, during dinner: I ended up with 3 blastocysts, but they were of too poor quality to transfer. They are going to test them for normality anyway, so at least we have that much information from this crazy, and crazy-expensive, experience.

I should also explain that on top of mourning the loss of being able to pass on my biology, I struggle a little bit each day with a mild preoccupation with mortality, as I work in a nursing center, where aging and death are a part of daily life. Even before the failed IVF, I’ve had little blip-like un-sexy thoughts about mortality when intimate with DH, which I am able to let go of pretty quickly.

In the shower with DH, I started thinking about the biological purpose of sex: reproduction. I began to feel those familiar feelings of being defective. Useless. I looked down at the fullness of my breasts, the curve of my hips, and thought, I’m advertising something I no longer have.

I’m going to go into menopause soon, I thought.

As a clinician, I know that it is “okay” to have thoughts like this. We all have thoughts that do not serve us. The key is to practice acknowledging them and letting them go. I did do that.

But when DH climaxed, I started to cry. I became overwhelmed with images of him in various “collection rooms” in New York and Denver. I was picturing his frozen back-up sample in the CCRM lab. I was just so sad about the fact that our sex life has become so medicalized for such a goddam long time.

And I mourned that we would never know the pleasure of “baby-making sex,” that swirl in the tummy of excitement and anticipation, the deeper level of intimacy, the pillow talk, What if we conceived a little one just then? The pleasure of looking down at our naked bodies and thinking about the different parts of us blending together, mysteriously, amazingly, inside me to create a miraculous new life.

DH was holding me in the shower, comforting me, telling me that everything I was feeling was completely normal and not to apologize.

“If we use donor eggs, then my body will support the pregnancy, I can breastfeed, maybe I will feel less defective,” I blurted, knowing that I’m not defective no matter what, but that feeling was hard to let go of in that moment.

We got out of the shower, and DH wondered if I wanted to continue our make-out session in bed, maybe that would help, but I told him that I didn’t think I was ready yet.

“Maybe I’m sadder than I’m allowing myself to be, and the sex is bringing my true sadness to the surface,” I said, and then I fell asleep in his arms.

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2 Comments

  1. LH

     /  January 25, 2013

    Oh my friend, I understand (unsurprisingly) so much of what you’re saying here. I think about mortality all the time. I feel such grief about this whole thing. I’m so sorry that Colorado didn’t give your dream. And what you said in your last post – there is always still hope. That’s what sustains us. Let’s talk soon. xo

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