Monday, February 14, 2011

Couples with Infertility: Nourishing Your Love

Valentine's Day is a special day in the lives of most couples. But what happens after the cards have been opened, the chocolates consumed and the flowers begin to wilt? Every couple faces the challenge of how to keep that spirit of love alive after February 14, and couples with infertility experience unique challenges. Fortunately there are lots of creative ways to re-ignite and nourish those loving feelings 365 days of the year!

Let's begin with the "hectic" challenge. Everyone knows the feeling of having too many things to do and not enough time, but if grappling with infertility is one of those "things," you know the frustrations: scheduling doctors' appointments, balancing responsibilities with c0-workers, balancing the homefront responsibilities with your partner, fitting in fun with friends and enjoyable hobbies, as well as trying to think a few months ahead to see whether a vacation is going to conflict with your treatment schedule. So, with these multiple balancing acts, how do you and your partner find time to focus on your love for each other? Chances are you have fond memories of earlier times in your lives before infertility crowded your psyches and your calendars.

So, with Valentine's Day so close in your awareness, perhaps this is a good time to talk about consciously re-igniting those fond, but distant memories. If both of you share the commitment to bring back into your lives some of the kindnesses that kept your love well-nourished, then you can decide together how to do it again. Some of this will take time, like planning a trip, planting a garden, exploring nearby communities, hiking in the woods, taking a class or undertaking a new hobby. But with two of you, it will take less time, and anticipation can be half the fun! Other nourishing efforts may require conscious effort, but they take no time at all: a good morning kiss, a 15 minute walk together after work, a long hug after dinner, telling jokes or humorous anecdotes, cuddling on the couch while watching TV...the opportunities are only limited by your imaginations!

And while we're on the subject of "hectic," and hugs and kisses, did I mention sex? You know, not the preoccupation-with-babymaking sex, but rather the steamy, spontaneous, joyful sex that was so much a part of your pre-infertility days. I know that once sex becomes associated with conceiving, spontaneity can go down the tubes. And even if you know the only way a pregnancy will occur for you is through medical technology, the tension of infertility can take its toll on your libido. But if you once shared a passion for sex, there are all sorts of ways you can bring this passion back into your lives once you decide to talk about it.

So here are some things that can be a part of that conversation. If you find yourselves too exhausted at bedtime to do more than fall into bed, then you need to find other times of the day when your energy level lends itself to making love. How about a small snack before dinner, topped off with some fun in the bedroom? Or how about having dinner wearing some skimpy undergarments, and leaving the dishes to soak in the sink while you enjoy some after-dinner lovemaking? Or how about going to bed an hour early a couple of times a week, so you can kindle some of the romance with the help of low lights and music? You can use your imaginations to add to my suggestions, once you agree that re-igniting your passion is something you want to try. And each of you can make the effort to initiate your lovemaking in creative ways, so that it is both fun and surprising.

And, in spite of my examples, don't restrict yourself to the bedroom! Creativity may take you to other parts of your living quarters, just for the fun it it! But if you DO plan to enjoy yourselves in the bedroom, please keep in mind some important reminders. Lovemakling in the bedroom is greatly enhanced if you save the bedroom for sleep and for sex. No computers, no food, no TV, no talk about infertility, no reminders of anything except the passion and the relaxation that help to re-charge your relationship.

And, although I seem to be waxing and waning on the topic of re-igniting your sexual passions, let me also say that I fully understand many couples grappling with infertility find themselves shying away from intercourse. That may be because for so long intercourse has been associated with babymaking, rather than with passion. Or it may be that incidents of producing semen samples on demand have interfered with feeling aroused on other occasions. So the take-away message is that passion and love can be expressed in many ways, and intercourse does not need to be an outcome (except, of course, when ovulation is occurring!). So you and your partner should feel fully creative in the ways you express your love as well as your passion, with the emphasis being on mutual pleasure rather than intercourse or even orgasm.

As Valentine's Day, 2011 recedes in our memories, I hope that some of the ideas in this blog will stimulate you and your partner to nourish your love together in as many ways as you can imagine!

1 comment:

  1. Connie, I love this post--it's just an uplifting reminder that we need to continually appreciate each other, especially when times are tough and you're having trouble conceiving. I've recently sought help with infertility , and it can be simply overwhelming. Thanks again for the reminder, and I look forward to reading your upcoming posts!