For those of you who don’t know, we’re trying to get pregnant. (See EVERY other blog I’ve written for more details). Now, after reading all that background blogging, you should know we’ve had a bit of a hard and painful time accomplishing this goal. I’m not complaining…well, I am complaining, loudly and at length, it’s just a saying…and for the most part people have been truly supportive. But, from the bottom of my heart, and for the sake of every woman in my situation, I have one request: PLEASE, DON’T TELL ME TO EFFEN RELAX!
Ok, here’s where I’m coming from. When you start infertility treatments, it’s not something you do on a whim. Oh no. They won’t even *look* at you if you haven’t been actively trying to get pregnant for a year (and by active I mean charting your cycles and using ovulation tests and all that). If you haven’t, they tell you you, you guessed, start charting your cycles and use ovulation tests. Then they do some basic tests–sperm count, hormone levels, mucus viscosity, that sort of thing. It’s not until several cycles later that they actually begin the pills and ultrasounds. What I’m saying is this: it’s not like you can walk into a doctor, say “I think I’m infertile” and they’ll send you home with a packet of needles and book on test tube babies. No, it’s a long and involved process that weeds out anyone who just hasn’t gotten lucky (well, they’re assuming you’ve gotten lucky a little bit–otherwise you’d need a whole different lecture).
Now, during this year or so of unsuccessful, at home fertilization, you have a lot of sex. I mean, A LOT. As anyone who’s trying for a baby–they’ll tell you it’s been mere hours since the last attempt. They’ll also probably tell you the position they tried and how long she stayed with her legs in the air to ensure proper spermatozoon flow…parents-to-be are a strange breed. Anyhow, lots and lots of sex. During all this sex, you are most likely going to have an orgasm. Well, I’m assuming. If not, sad for you! Let’s just say from experience, you’re going to have an orgasm. Maybe not all the time, but definitely more often than if you weren’t doin’ it several times a day. Do you know what orgasms do? They release endorphins in your brain. You know what endorphins do? They relax you. Completely and totally. Here’s a quick science lesson about endorphins:
Endorphins are released by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus of the vertebral brain. They act on receptors in the brain that, when bound up, cause the body not to feel pain and bring about a general sense of well being. These same receptors respond to opiates and morphine. However, anything injected into the blood stream has a very small chance of getting to the brain because of the blood-brain barrier (the brain is very selective as to what it lets in, so there’s a barrier between blood and the brain. Only certain substances make it in, and only a tiny amount of those substances at that). Endorphins are produced in the brain, so a little bit goes a long, long way. Acupuncture for pain management induces the brain to produce excess endorphins, thereby eliminating any pain in the body. Small amounts of endorphins cause muscles to relax, blood pressure to drop, heart rate to slow, adrenaline levels to lower, and breathing to become deep and regular. They basically put you into an extremely relaxed state–hence the desire to fall asleep after sex. Well, after good sex. Sometimes sex elicits the desire to sneak out without waking the partner and throw up in an alley on the way home, but I digress.
What I’m saying is simply if you have a bunch of orgasms, you’re going to be extremely relaxed most of the time. Even if you get into a stressful situation, residual endorphins will make it seem much less stressful than normal, and allow you to relax much more quickly once the situation has passed. What does this have to do with my bitch-fest above? Read on and all will become clear.
Once you’ve gone through this year or so of bliss and have decided to embark upon the rocky road of infertility treatments (rather than just buy the damn motorcycles and start doing illicit drugs already–a decision many women going through these treatments regret every few months…) then you will begin to notice a strange phenomenon: everyone, and I mean everyone, seems to know how to get you pregnant. You’ll be talking with a friend, say, and telling her about your latest adventure in the doctor’s office. This friend has been on birth control for 12 years, hasn’t had sex for 6 of those, and has no desire to become a mother. Suddenly, she is an expert in fertility, and is happy to share her knowledge with you. Well, fine. I realize that many people show their support by trying to help you out. I actually appreciate it. I listen, take mental notes, look up info I don’t quite understand, and print out resources to add to my notebook. However, after talking with EVERYBODY about this subject, I have noticed one thing in common: they all end their lectures with “You just need to relax. You’ll never get pregnant by being all tense like this. Once you calm down and relax, everything will work out fine.”
This is the point where every infertile woman has her head explode. JUST RELAX?!? Are you kidding me?!? I just spent over a year of my life awash in sperm and endorphins–more relaxed than a pot head on a semester-long bender, barely able to stand upright because my muscles simply refused to tense up, and dealing with situations that make most people bleed out their eyes in frustration by saying “Really? Bummer. I’m gonna go take a nap. Wanna get a slurpee?” and you’re telling me all I need to do is relax?!? Did it every occur to you that maybe, just maybe, there is actually something wrong? That the doctor didn’t cut me open and poke at my uterus for shits and giggles, but because he was taking something out? That I don’t have Dean inject me with painful chemicals because I like that burning sensation, but because I don’t produce them on my own? Did it? I mean, lord, do you honestly think that I’d be putting myself through hell via daily doctors visits if all I really needed was a weekly massage?!? Dear god, shut up! I do not need to relax! We tried that, it didn’t work. Now we have to try something much less fun and much more invasive. I’d appreciate it if you would understand that then either 1) nod sympathetically, give me a hug and buy me presents to make me feel better, then look away when I burst into tears, or 2) find an article on alternative treatments, cutting edge surgery techniques, specialists in the area, or witch doctors who may help, cut it out and hand it to me. Either way, you’re giving me what I need–actual support and friendship during a very, very rough patch in my otherwise extremely happy life. By telling me to relax, you’re basically saying “Any tool can get pregnant…I can’t believe you haven’t figured that out yet! Well, since no one else has let you in on the secret, here you go.” I feel broken enough already! I don’t need you telling me that the answer to my problem is so simple an idiot could do it. You know how that makes me feel? Destroyed. Every time someone gives me this simple, one word answer to my extremely complex situation, it reminds me that I can’t do the one thing my body was designed to do. I can not pull off the single act every other organism on the plant can accomplish. I’m broken. Completely and utterly broken.
So, on behalf of infertile women everywhere–please don’t tell us to relax. We’ve tried that. We’ve tried that for years and it hasn’t worked. Yes, going through these treatments is stressful. Yes, hormones released in stressful situations can inhibit pregnancy. Why do you think the orgasm evolved?!? To relax us when it counts the most! But the one thing that causes my blood pressure to skyrocket more than anything else I’ve been through these past few years is someone telling me “Just relax. Once you stop trying, it’ll happen on its own.” Fuck you. Fuck you all.