My long-term girlfriend and I have been having a hard time getting pregnant. We go to the doctor, have all kinds of intrusive treatments - charts, kits and thermometers. I have to have sex on demand, we have to do it just the right way and I have to be ready at a moment’s notice. It’s been going on for months and we’ve started to fight a lot over the issue.
Lately, I started to wonder if it’s all worth it. I suggested we adopt, but she wants a child with our genes. Then I made the mistake of suggesting maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
She questioned my commitment to having children with her, and left the next day to stay temporarily with her parents until she figures out if she wants to continue trying with me. I was just being honest! Should I stay the course or bail and find someone I’m maybe more compatible with?
I know these things can be tough, and a terrible strain on a relationship.
You weren’t too specific about where you are in the process, but from how it sounds - basal thermometers and (I’m guessing) ovulation prediction charts and kits - you’re still in the fairly early stages.
It can get much, much heavier. And horribly expensive.
I have a friend who’s been trying for years. Her husband had his sperm “spun” (to separate the swimmers from the slackers). She’s had laparoscopic surgery, where they cut you open and stick a camera in you. She has been given drugs to force her ovaries to shoot out 20 eggs in a month. She’s done both in-vitro fertilization and intrauterine injections. She has spent the GNP of a small country and had to refinance her mortgage (a single month of drug-and-IVF treatment cost her $8,000, and most insurers won’t even touch fertility stuff).
The net result, so far: zilch. Bupkes.
My question to you is: How would you feel if this became your story? How would your girlfriend feel? I mean, you might be among the lucky ones and, boom, get pregnant one fine day. But what if you aren’t?
I think you both need to step back, take a deep breath and assess your commitment level to one another. In fact, crazy as it may seem, I think you two should set aside questions of procreation for the moment and decide whether or not you want to get married.
Yes: Sorry to sound old-fashioned here, but in my view there’s no better method for assessing your commitment level than deciding whether or not you’re willing to stand up in a hot, tight, rented monkey suit and declare your commitment in front of friends, family and assorted religious figures and icons.
It’s all implied in the vows. Basically (and obviously I’m paraphrasing here) you have to ask yourself: “Do I love my girlfriend enough that I will stick with her no matter what happens, through periods where sex might be a bit of a chore and we have to use basal thermometers, ovulation prediction kits and perhaps even spend tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars? And if that fails and we have to adopt, spend more going to China or Romania or perhaps even deciding ultimately to do without children?”
If the answer to the above question is “I do,” then I suggest you rush out to a jeweller immediately, buy a ring with the biggest rock you can afford, take a taxi straight to her mother’s house, pop open the velvety box and say: “Darling, I don’t know what I was thinking, I’m committed to staying the course with you and giving it my best shot no matter what happens.”
If you perform this gesture with the requisite amount of sincerity, brio, and sprezzatura, I think I can pretty much confer upon you the Damage Control Guaranteetm that she will melt and take you back.
But - and this is a big, fat, spandex-stretching but - if the answer to the above question is, “Hmm, when you put it that way, Dave, I guess the answer is kind of maybe ... no,” then you should go your separate ways. Allow the momentum from her moving out to carry your fates in separate directions. (Sadly.)
If you do decide to get back together and start trying again, I do have some thoughts.
These days, from what I can gather, fertility experts advise against using temperature charts and ovulation prediction kits to time intercourse. Why? Well, in layman’s terms, because it’s a bummer. And if sex is a bore and a chore, you might have it less often, and/or it could put a strain on your relationship. I believe that sex is a holy mystery, shrouded in secrecy and topped with whipped cream and coconut sprinkles. If you mess with it, it could mess with you.
Or, if you prefer, in the rather drier formulation of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Britain: “Timing intercourse to coincide with ovulation causes stress and is not recommended.”
Sexperts say that, ironically, all this timing stuff doesn’t increase your chances and you should just have regular sex, the way you used to, for all the old reasons.
So chuck the charts and ditch the kits.
I mean, hard as it might have been to get your girlfriend pregnant before, I think you’re probably discovering it’s even harder with her living across town at her mother’s place.
As a footnote, I would like to add that a part of me (and I’m sorry, I guess it’s the Cro-Magnon, 15-years-married part) doesn’t really understand what your issue is with the charts and kits - and a friend of mine who has been through the whole fertility mill agrees.
I mean, okay, so you have to use all these charts and kits and special pillows and take shots and pills.
But you’re still getting the sex, right?
David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.
I’ve made a huge mistake
From Friday’s Globe and Mail
January 11, 2008 at 9:21 AM EST