My husband was away for the weekend so one of my friends kindly invited me for dinner Friday night, knowing that I subsist on nothing but cereal if I am left to eat alone. My friend is like the Baby Whisperer and as long as I've known her she has wanted to be a mother, a profession at which she will undoubtedly excel. Of course, as nature should have it, MTV wrapped up its third season of 16 and Pregnant while my friend reads their OK! magazine interviews on birth control in the fertility clinic waiting room.
After receiving too many painful injections to stimulate ovulation, she and her husband have been put on a "Timed Intercourse Protocol" to optimize chances of conception. For the un-protocoled, this means they're told exactly when they need to do it, after which time she needs to lie with her legs up in the air for an extended period of time because this whole thing hasn't quite been awkward enough. Are you in the mood yet!?
This process, known as TIP (or TMI, depending on how you look at it) is all really new to me. When my parents gave me Where Did I Come From? for my 13th birthday, there was no chapter on spreadsheets.
As my friend relayed the latest fertility news Friday, I held my phone against my shoulder so I could massage the sympathy pains out of my ovaries.
"I had to call my doctor to ask him if we're supposed to have sex tonight," she said, "while in line at the grocery store, no less."
"And?" I asked.
"We need to do it at 9:00 so you can leave at like what, a quarter to?"
My friend has handled this unfortunate situation with grace and good humour and I want to be there for her. I really do. I want her to know she can talk to me about anything. I want to see her in person so I can give her a hug, make her laugh and raise her spirits. I want to support her. I'm just having trouble getting past the coitus part.
"Wait, were you buying groceries for tonight?"
"Yeah, what's the difference?" she asked.
The difference was, she was going to buy groceries, make dinner, I was going to go over to her house and we were going to eat that dinner and then she and her husband were going to have sex! At 9:00. One hundred percent. A healthcare professional told them to. The three of us were going to sit around the dinner table knowing the entire time, with absolute certainty, that two of the three of us were going to do it later. Together. At 9:00.
What were we going to talk about while on a copulation countdown? How was I going to make eye contact? What if the potatoes took longer to roast than expected?
The fact of the matter is, talking about sex, in a procreative or non-procreative capacity, makes me uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable with my doctor, it makes me uncomfortable with my girlfriends and it definitely makes me uncomfortable when my little niece asks me where baby cows come from. It's all just really awkward for me. I can't help but feel a familiar blush creep up my neck .
It's really medium specific, I guess. In writing, I can make an incision in my soul and pry it open, good or bad, for all to see. I can write things to people that I would never, ever, be brave enough to tell them in person. I can type away, making metaphorical love to a computer screen, or blank piece of paper, but what I can't do is talk about it.
I appreciated my friend's dinner invite but I had to cancel. I just wasn't in the mood.
"I'm really sorry," I said, "I don't think tonight is going to work. I have a headache."
"Come on! Really? How do you suddenly have a headache?"
"I don't know, I'm just really tired," I said.
"It'll be really quick though. In and out."
"Maybe another night. I want to go to bed."
"I'll give you a call later to see how you're feeling," she said.
"Don't worry," I told her, "I know you're busy. Why don't you just pop me an email?"