How trying to have a baby might change your sex life

August 31 | Guest post by Katie Finrow
Ha, Birth Control???
BUH-BYE, birth control! Photo by Trey Matula, used with Creative Commons license.
I'm trying to get pregnant.

I'm not taking the "go off the pill and see what happens" approach. I'm taking a more active approach. I'm thirty-four, and I think I want to have two kids. I'm not exactly worried about making that happen, but I figure that all else being equal, it's best if we knock out the first one as soon as possible.

It turns out that just by taking your temperature every morning, you can pinpoint pretty closely when you are ovulating, especially if your cycle is regular. I started doing this in October because I ran out of birth control pills. I thought my then-fiancé and I would start trying to get pregnant sooner rather than later, and it didn't seem worth it to go to the doctor and get a refill just to take the pill for a few more months. Instead, we just avoided having unprotected sex during the four or five days each month when I could have gotten pregnant.

We changed tacks in March, when we got married, and started having sex on purpose on those same four or five days. Like many other things about trying to get pregnant, having sex on a schedule can be really strange.

Most sources recommend having sex for the two or three days leading up to ovulation and the day of ovulation as the best strategy for getting pregnant. If the man has a low sperm count, every other day is sometimes recommended. But because we got pregnant — though I had an early miscarriage — our third month trying, I don't think that is an issue for us.

So every day for those four days it is — or at least that's the plan. It's surprisingly challenging.

The first two months, we couldn't do it. The first month felt like a warm-up, anyway, and it was at the same time as our wedding, so we were really busy spending time with guests, finishing work and last-minute wedding preparations, and then flying to Bhutan. We only managed to have sex every other day. The third month, we finally managed four days in a row, and we got pregnant, though as I mentioned, I had a miscarriage at five weeks.

So now, of course, I feel like we need to make it happen every day. There is a lot about getting pregnant that a couple can't control, but this is one thing we can control. Why not tilt the odds in our favor as much as possible?

We started trying immediately after the miscarriage, but our hearts weren't in it and it felt like a chore. My doctor seemed skeptical that I would ovulate so soon, and it seemed impossible that we would get pregnant two months in a row, so we were doubtful that anything would come of our efforts.

The next month, we were backpacking for three of the key nights, which added an additional element of difficulty. Aside from the fact that we were in a tent on a crowded beach, it is messy having sex every day without showers or bathrooms or even toilet paper. We were sandy and sweaty, and I felt leaky.

I tell him I appreciate his efforts, and he reminds me that he also wants to get pregnant. We're on the same team.

This month, we were inspired. It's the third month since the miscarriage and we got pregnant on our third try before. At least I was inspired, and my husband seemed cooperative. I am the project manager of Operation Fetus, though he takes the laboring oar, as it were. I tell him I appreciate his efforts, and he reminds me that he also wants to get pregnant. We're on the same team.

So we started with renewed energy on day 10 of my cycle, three days before I usually ovulate. The first night was fun. Afterwards, I patted myself on the back; I had been a good team leader.

The second night, my mother-in-law was sleeping in the living room of our one-bedroom apartment. No matter; the air conditioner running in the bedroom would mask any suspicious sounds. We aimed for efficiency.

The third night, we were backpacking again, but instead of being on the beach we were high in the mountains and it was cold. We were both gassy from the freeze-dried and processed food — Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Deluxe, I'm looking at you — we'd been eating all day, and we were tired from hiking and all the fresh air. We tried to arrange our sleeping bags as best we could to cover us both and keep us warm. We had left the rainfly off the tent, and though it was next to impossible that anyone would stroll by, they would have been treated to a surprising view. I was not leaving my warm position on the bottom, where I was mostly in the sleeping bag. Without a soft bed with some give for me to sink into, I felt like I was being crushed. I tried to prop my husband up with my arms so that I could breathe, and we laughed a lot.

The fourth night was a business transaction. We were home, but even more tired after a night of fitful sleep on the ground, a second day of hiking, and a pint of beer at dinner. I felt nauseated, probably from the aforementioned factors as well as my exclusive consumption of cheese and crackers, Cheetos, and chicken strips that day. My husband's breath smelled terrible. We considered these factors in a brisk negotiation, calculated the approach with the lowest chance of my vomiting, and got the job done.

I don't mind any of this. I like projects, and this is an easy and interesting one with an exciting payoff. It's just interesting the way it changes sex from a fun and voluntary activity to an item on our to-do list. I know it's nothing compared to the challenges we'll face when our sex campaign is finally successful, but I'd like to think I can take some heart from knowing that we can approach at least this small challenge with humor and teamwork.

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  1. Yes! I felt the same way. We were trying for nine months and while I only ovulated twice in that time, we tried every month and it definitely changed the way I viewed sex. It was an obligation at times, rather than something super fun and awesome. Luckily, my husband was always gung-ho (apparently having condom-less sex is awesome) and that helped a lot. I'm 10 weeks along now and I honestly don't even think of those days anymore. It seems like those nine months went by so fast and now time is just dragging as we try to make it out of the first trimester.

  2. It doesn't get easier from here. You have to keep up the jokes and smiles. Without out it, you are done. Sex will become routine. The trick is to also have sex on other days of your cycle, just to have sex for sex's sake.

    2 agree
  3. Our son's conception was completely a business arrangement. We had just flown to Portugal for a friend's wedding and we were jetlagged as hell and staying in a tiny room in my husband's parents' apartment and we kept WAITING for them to go to bed, but we gave up at around 2AM because we were just too damned tired and… we can only hope his father didn't notice the suspicious tag-team marching to the bathroom, but we did win gold medals in silence and efficiency.

    And also, we won a baby. So, that helps.

    (Though saying "oh, we conceived on vacation!" sounds sexy… definitely was anything but.)

    5 agree
  4. AMEN sister!. Reading this was like reading the story of my own last few months. I have had 2 losses in the past 6 months and we are now on Round 3 of Operation Baby. Needless to day, this cycle was a challenge (the enjoyment facor has been slipping once the hubbs realizes that its CD10 and the focus here is baby-making, not love-making), and we have both agreed that the next time we knock boots it will because we want to, not just to try to create a person.

  5. This is awesome! My husband and I just started trying and I must admit, I LOVE trying-sex! Not sure what it is that makes it so risque for us, but we are animals! Our first child was a happy accident so we didn't get to do it the "grown-up" way the first round. I like making people, alot.

    4 agree
    • We also experienced that feeling of naughtiness for the first few months of trying. Enjoy.

  6. It's good to hear that other people have had similar experiences. I think I wrote this in my defense (subconsciously) after I complained to my sister and she asked me, "don't you have sex every day anyway?" No! And it really is weird when you feel like you have to do it no matter what is going on.

    • It's funny how we find out about other people libidos as we become parents! I said something similar to a freind of mine, "Why aren't you doing it every day anyway???"

  7. Ha! My husband and I call the having sex because we want to get pregnant but we're tired so let's get it over with sex "business transactions" as well.

  8. almost couldn't read the story because the one month we "tried" was a misery…for my husband. I was excited and like yes lets have sex all the time (upping it from the 3 or so times a week per usual)he was like now we HAVE to have sex so now I don't want to but I HAVE to, this isn't sexy. Our differing labidos made me feel rejected and him feel used. and that was only a month. I was gone the next month and the second I got home I was thoroughly knocked up good. I guess he missed me.

    3 agree
  9. I think I mentioned in a previous post the concept of GOFing (Goal Orienting Fucking). It's a whole different kind of intercourse, and not one I found particularly enjoyable. For me, procreative wasn't as much fun as recreative.

    1 agrees
  10. Wow, this post is perfect!
    My OB adviced that we wait for 2 months after going off the pill before actually trying so my cycles can get back to normal after 12 years of birth control. Today is the first day I should have taken the pill and I haven't! It's exciting and scary at the same time, especially since the hubs and I have a very happy and intimate relationship in which we don't have much sex (once a week?), but we're perfectly happy with it. We're very worried about the sudden change because it's going to be very weird for us, so we've decided to change our habits during these two first months when we'll be using condoms so at least it doesn't feel like a chore.

    1 agrees
  11. I thank my lucky stars that my husband and I thoroughly enjoy sex regularly or else this 21 month journey to conceive could have gotten pretty awful (aside from the emotional ups and downs of fertility testing, meds, etc.).

    The whole time we've had so much fun with it (baby-makin' time!!) and always have sex when I'm not ovulating, too. I've heard about so many couples feeling used, like it was a chore, etc. Even when I feel tired, I know I'm going to get into it, cause it's still sex. Which feels great!

    2 agree
  12. Amen! My husband and I both have really low libidos, so….we *don't* do it all the time. Never really have. We're all about cuddling and being snuggly all the time, but the sexyteims aren't usually on the agenda. So this whole Goal-Oriented-Fucking business is a little awkward sometimes! We try to make it fun, but yep, it has the potential to make your sex-life a little different if your routine isn't sexytimes-all-the-times already.

    10 agree
  13. It only took us four months of trying to conceive our daughter (we used FAM as well), but it still sucked… And ironically, the one that took was the most businesslike transaction of our 10.5 years together. I had to leave the house at 9:30 for a Saturday rehearsal, and I woke up at 8:30 with a still-low temp–so I decided to take advantage of "morning wood" (LMAO). Fifteen minutes later, Rosina was underway!

    1 agrees
  14. This was a fantastic post. I have fantasies about the awesomeness of sex when we are actually trying to make a baby. It'll be interesting to see if it winds up like that, or if it winds up as a business transaction.

    2 agree
  15. Ha! We did the sex everyday for a couple months and I felt like I didn't even have to work out it was so exhausting. We call the forced sex "purely procreation". It's been nine months and no dice, so we've chilled a little. Still fun though.

    1 agrees
  16. I'm on my second month off the pill, and my husband has after months of naysaying got on the baby crack hard. This is the man who 6 months ago was telling his mates not for another 5 years and leaving me teary. In private our time frame was to start around our 1st anniversary (dec), so I ditched the pill at the end of my last prescription as well. We usually have sex about twice a week, so I was worried about the 'business transactions', but if hubs stays on the baby crack hopefully that wont be an issue! So, so excited for november when we're on holiday in thailand and official TRYING starts!!

  17. Story of my life. We call it "business sex," alternatively "robot sex." It isn't as bad as it sounds, but sex during my fertile time is definitely different than the rest of the month. We are going on a year and a half of actively trying to conceive, with one early loss. I hope you don't end up having business sex as long as we have. 🙂

  18. I'm married and pregnant, my pregnancy wasn't exactly planned, and it wasn't exactly an accident either. I'm eight months now and can't figure out how to physically have sex. It's horribly uncomfortable. my husband has been really great about it, I'm the one starting to get depressed.

  19. I went off the pill while my husband and I were temporarily living in different cities and only seeing each other every 2-3 weekends, thinking nothing would happen until we got back to our normal life and actually started 'trying'. 4 mos later, I got pregnant on day 21 of my cycle and was stunned. I said to the doctor 'but I thought I wasn't supposed to be fertile then!' and she just laughed at me. Baby is 7 mos old now. 😉

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