(continued from yesterday...)
The next few weeks were a time of joy and hope. Our hearts had conceived and were growing to love this baby/babies already. This was also when we went on vacation and finally, for the first time since our honeymoon, had time for just the two of us. Our friend's parents graciously let us stay with them in their home near the beach in North Carolina, and it was just what the doctor ordered. A time to get away from it all. I turned off my phone and stayed off of email the entire week. It was heaven. During that time Dave and I got to just enjoy each other. Time at the beach reading Two Towers to eachother, time to explore the area, sleep in and time just to be present to eachother. It was just a lovely time.
I hadn't realized how much the strain of infertility had caused me to overlook the gift I have in my husband. While on vacation I also read Dr. Greg Popcak's recent book "Holy Sex! A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving." When they say that this book is like St. Thomas Acquinas meets Dr. Ruth...they aren't kidding. I couldn't believe all that was included in this book. Everything from the meaning of sex and the scripture tradition of it, to an entire chapter on positions and how to orchestrate them according to the stages of a woman's cycle (Pre-Peak, Peak, Post-Peak) so as to experience the greatest intimacy and pleasure. I mean seriously!!! Someone has written on how to time the sexual encounter to correspond with a woman's fertility cycle to achieve maximum intimacy and pleasure? You have to be kidding me! This was Natural Family Planning at it's finest hour! :) :) :) But it wasn't the Christian Kamasutra aspects that affected me most, rather it was the focus on the intimacy and bonding that comes with a proper understanding of non-contracepting sex within marriage. Seriously, you have to read this book! Even if you think you won't agree with it, read it. Then let's talk. I think you just might be suprised. I know it will change your life in some way.
For me, my life was changed in that I realized that the desire for a baby was blinding me to the gift of Dave and was creating an impediment to marital intimacy (emotionally, psychologically, etc). Just as contraception rejects the life-giving love of sex, objectifies the spouse and says to the spouse, "I love all of you, but not your fertility," so equally does the neverending attempt to conceive run the risk of using the spouse as an object just the same. In this case, one runs the risk of objectifying the spouse as a means to getting what you want...a baby. The unitive aspects and authentic intimacy are marginalized...and many times couples fall into the trap of qualifying their relations as "successful" or "non-succesful" based on whether or not they conceive. Whoa! Stop the presses. This is just as much objectification as contraception in my opinion. You are still using the spouse for your own selfish pleasure. You may not intend to (just as most couples contracepting don't realize the ways they are objectifying their spouse), but you still are...even if it is mutual objectification. Ouch. I think this is one of the most hidden side-effects of infertility. If you think couples aren't talking about their infertility in the first place, try getting them to talk about how it affects their sexual life with their spouse. Nope...nada. Not going to get it. Not going to go "there." But oh well, I just went "there." I think it needs to be discussed and I have no problem doing it. Anyway, I have a feeling that many of you reading this know exactly what I mean.
Yes, "Holy Sex!" hit home in so many ways, and I believe it has already made me a better wife. I'm not just talking about passion and physical things (no, not even I am going to go "there"), but I mean in the self-donative, looking-to-serve and bring-out-the-best-in-the-other type of way. Even if I am not willing or able to meet all of Dave's needs (spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, etc), I certainly am more aware of them. Thank you Dr. Popcak for reminding me that the success of marriage and of sex does not depend on conception. I needed the wake-up.
Other than the profound affect my reading had upon me, it was just wonderful to get away from the stress of life. To sleep in as late as we wanted. Not to hurry anywhere. Not to feel torn in a million different directions. Not to always feel late and harried. Not to be strung out. I had time to take care of me. To attend to my needs and in doing so, learned to recognize things that my body has probably been trying to tell me for years. I need a break.
This is the same thing Dr. Parker had said in late February. He said I needed to destress and simplify life. Vacation gave me a chance to do that and to reflect on how I could continue to do it once I returned home. The result? One of the most beautiful months of charting we've ever seen. I can actually see a tangible difference in my cycle with the decrease in stress. Now, I'm not saying, destress and you'll conceive...but I certainly can see first-hand now, how stress is most likely playing a factor in our infertility. This has inspired me to do better. Just seeing the improvement has been a boost. And today Dr. Parker called and said that my Peak + 7 levels looked pretty good and it showed that I had ovulated. That is now three cycles of ovulation since last July. I never thought I'd say this, but "Yippee!" It's amazing what a bit of rest and "Holy Sex!" can do....just what the doctor ordered.