BABY MAKING IS A TOUGH JOB, BUT SOMEBODY'S GOT TO DO IT.
When I was a young man, I imagined what it was going to be like to have sex with the actual intent of making a baby, and I concluded that it was going to be the best sex ever: deeply sincere, free of annoying barriers, and ideally set somewhere other than in the back seat of a car. For years afterward, as sex got better because it moved indoors and I moved out of my parents house, every single encounter was designed specifically to avoid procreation. I had learned a thing or two in health class, and I knew that condoms, spermicide, and the pill were excellent birth control options, particularly if used at the same time.
Then, a couple of years back, my wife and I decided that we were ready to become parents. Finally, we were going to have the kind of sex that nature intended, the kind that even Republicans were promoting. Chief among the benefits was that I would be actually required to have sex several times over the course of Ovulation Week, perhaps for several months, until we succeeded in fertilizing an egg. This was a big responsibility, as if I had taken a second job, except I actually had to shave for this job, and I wasn’t going to be paid. But when you are offered your dream job, you can live with razor burn, no pay, and benefits.
The first thing you have to realize when you accept this kind of job is that you have to show up for it, even if it’s a Thursday night and you’re usually out drinking with the guys, or if your co-worker is exhausted because she's really busy at her other job. As long as the thermometer and charts tell you that an egg is coming down the lane, you both have to show up and complete the assigned task.
You may also have to sacrifice late nights at the computer attempting to pen the next great novel, because your wife has read in one of the twenty books that she is simultaneously reading on fertility that lack of sleep may reduce your sperm count. So might alcohol, by the way, so your second job – this incredible job in which you are having sex all the time – now requires you to nurse a drink when you’re out with the guys so they don’t suspect anything. (Note: the idea that you are attempting to get pregnant will never cross their minds, though it is sure to be the first thing their wives think of when they see your business partner order a seltzer). Your only hope at indulging a vice is to cite an obscure Brazilian study claiming that coffee makes sperm swim faster. This allows you to drink espresso whenever you feel like it, until your wife tells you to please stop bouncing off the walls.
Perhaps the greatest difference between this new kind of sex and the kind you’d been having for years before – which you increasingly come to regard wistfully as “fun sex” – is the pressure of having performance goals. You must actually produce five or six days out of seven during the ovulation period as the charts and 20 books demand. You cannot claim exhaustion, or advanced age, not after years of asserting with a straight face that you could make it every single day if that were an option.
There are advantages to baby-making sex, of course. It is not absolutely necessary to bring home flowers or compliment your wife’s home grown tomatoes. You don’t have to mix an extra strong drink to loosen her up, or wash and fold the laundry. She has already penciled the occasion into the calendar. Still, after months of not getting pregnant and becoming resigned to it never happening, you are bound to run into a conflict, an event that seems strangely more important than having sex yet again. When this happens, you will both agree, with some relief, to give yourselves the night off. After all, you've been diligently showing up at this second job for nearly a year, and its early luster is wearing off.
In the end, if you’re lucky, all the hard work and sacrifice will pay off. You'll stare in disbelief at the home pregnancy test, elated, and realize that your second job has come to a sudden end. You will become a parent, and the pleasures will be far greater than you could have imagined. And afterward, you’ll be back to having regular sex again – “fun sex” – and you’ll once more come to believe that, given the chance, you really could make it 365 days a year.