The stress and routine of infertility treatments can put a real damper on your physical relationship, and intimacy of any form, between you and your partner, may become a real struggle. This is exacerbated by the fact that even your doctor may put the kibosh on intercourse through certain stages of the medically assisted, baby-making journey; as if you even feel like being touched after days and days of ovary stimulating hormones and violations by “Wanda” at every ultrasound, right? Still, physical contact is important in most relationships, especially those that are navigating the stress, anxiety, and pain of infertility. Although sexual appetite and eroticism may often take a back seat during the treatments, it remains paramount that you work to keep the core of your bond intact, both physically and emotionally.
So how do you protect and nurture that loving bond?
Since the rest of your life right now is likely running on a schedule of shots, ultrasounds, bloodwork, and doctor consults, you should already have a foundational calendar to work from. Go ahead and add a date night or two right into that calendar. Harken back to those early days of your relationship, when you shunned the world outside to “Netflix and chill”. If it’s a night on the town you seek, recollect and recreate some of your first dates to recapture some of the early magic. Stroll in the park or down the beach and allow yourselves a little freedom to think about the future and what it might hold. I know it’s scary, but if you are going through these treatments, then kids are a part of what you envision for your future. It’s healthy to explore those dreams together, even if you can’t fully conceptualize the reality yet beyond your fears. These discussions of hopes and dreams, fears and disappointments can lead to some really great communication, understanding, and bonding as a couple. You will need these feelings and memories to draw on when the waiting periods hit and the hormone swings strike.
Be Sure to Recharge Your Batteries as Needed
The quest for baby can become an all consuming one, leaving your relationship worse for the wear, if you don’t take the time to mend and reinforce it regularly. If your journey begins to drag on and the path becomes long and winding, don’t despair, but do examine your timing and the state of your partner bond. Perhaps after 2 failed cycles of IUI or IVF, plan to schedule a break period to strengthen and support each other and allow yourselves to grieve. Pounding away at the cycles month after month and year after year, with no breaks, can weigh heavily on you both. Taking a step back, is physically and emotionally cathartic. Your mind, your body, and your future child will thank you.
Go Dark…Electronically Speaking
Your off to a great start, but don’t stop there. In a world, where we already head straight to our phones like a Pavlovian dog to the dinner bell, every time it pings us with an alert, make sure too, that you schedule some time when you both leave your phones silent and far from grasp. According to recent studies, cell phone use is rapidly ascending the list of relationships stressors (see article by Guy Winch, Ph.D., Psychology Today). Perhaps your phones can get cuddly with each other in a banishment basket by the front door, while the two of you get cozy on the couch.
Plan a trip to the spa for a massage, couples or solo. Schedule a few well-timed sessions with the acupuncturist. Work morning yoga or meditation into your morning routine. A well pampered and cared for mind and body will be better equipped to handle all that this viscous beast will throw at you. By caring for yourselves individually, you will be able to care better for each other.
Keep the lines of communication open when it comes to keeping your relationship as intimate as possible. Trial and error will reign supreme here. Figure out what’s working for you as a couple and what isn’t. Chances are, if you are both prioritizing intimacy in its many forms, your relationship will withstand even the cruelest of turns on this draining, arduous path.
Wishing you all PEACE, LOVE, & BABY DUST.