We didn’t have parents to show us what relationships looked like over time. There wasn’t anyone to go to for answers to the questions we had as our days together became months and years. Questions like, what do you do after the feelings of falling in love are gone? How do you maintain love after you’re comfortable with each other? Maybe that’s why it feels like something is missing between us, again.
The last time this happened, the unexpected news of pregnancy removed the space between us. My husband lavished me with gifts and more importantly, his attention. Every craving satisfied and every whim fulfilled. His love for me grew and deepened. It surrounded me and filled me for years, four to be more precise.
It was only after TJ’s third birthday, I felt the downshift. Kisses were less intense. Sex replaced making love. His attention that I used to bathe in barely grazed over me and feelings of neglect became more familiar. Still, I shouldn’t be too upset, right? He was a great father to TJ, so he obviously still had the capacity for love. It’s just the love between us seemed to have dwindled.
Of course, my thoughts drew me to the conclusion that to fix this, I should do what worked last time – get pregnant. It was my goal and I did everything I could think of to accomplish it. I stopped working out so hard. I laid down for hours with my hips elevated after sex. I determined my ovulation schedule and followed it faithfully. Yet, every month my period came, I began to lose hope that my plan would work.
I turned over in the bed to look at him sleeping. This California King sized bed seemed larger when we purchased it. Perhaps, it was the positions we slept in. He always had to feel a piece of me near him in order to sleep, but that ended a long time ago.
My arm extended to allow me to caress his cheek and feel the uneven texture created by the beard he allowed to grow during the off-season. My lips pressed together thinking of a time before this when the touch of my hand on his face brought his arm around my waist. He’d pull me closer to him so he could rub his beard on me. Our laughter filled the room only to be replaced with silenced once our lips met. What a way to wake up? To happiness and love.
His eyes opened and I forced a smile.
“Good morning, Terry,” I said softly calling him by his nickname. His eyes scanned my face before he spoke.
“‘Morning, babe.” He turned his body toward me and reached up to place his hand over mine. These small gestures of affection were rare.
Our greetings were shortened as the alarm on his phone sounded. It was time for him to wake up and train.
He sat down to breakfast after his shower. I placed his usual protein shake in front of him. His goal was to gain 10 more pounds of muscle. Looking across the table, he opened his mouth to speak.
“What’s going on?”
“Nothing.” I lied.
“Come on. I know that look. What’s going on in that mind of yours?”
“I think it’s time we have another child,” I voiced after an uncomfortable silence. We’d had the conversation before, but he wanted to wait until TJ was older. That was a year ago, I thought it was time to bring it up again.
“Okay. So stop taking your pills.”
“I’ve already stopped.” He raised his eyebrows, but his face was still calm. Good. He wasn’t upset that I had stopped taking my birth control without talking to him. Perhaps, he thought it was time too.
“So…” he started, but I interrupted.
“I know I should have told you. I’ve tried everything I can think of. It’s just not working.”
“So go to the lady doctor.”
“I’ve gone to my gynecologist. She couldn’t find anything wrong.”
“So what do we do?”
“See a fertility specialist?”
“You really want to do this?” I nodded.
“I think it’s time to give TJ a little brother or sister.” Of course I wouldn’t tell him my main reason. Instead, I rambled off the other ones, “He’s out of pull-ups, he’s always excited to see little babies, and he’s old enough to help me with little stuff like grabbing diapers and wipes.”
“Make the appointment, babe. You know my schedule so…” I smiled and he stopped to look at me. “You sure we can’t try one more time before we go.”
“We can try. What did you have in mind?”
“You know, the more old-fashioned way.” He pulled me closer to him and started to kiss my neck. It felt like love and I accepted. Thankfully, TJ stayed sleep and when he walked in Terrance took him to the kitchen for breakfast.
I placed a pillow under my hips and prayed Terrance’s soldiers would finally accomplish the mission, but only time would tell.
It took some time to complete the testing with the fertility specialist, but it was time to hear the doctor’s recommendation for how we should proceed.
“Terrance,” Dr. Day greeted my husband first, shaking his hand firmly. He looked at me and gave me a hug. “How are you, Vanessa?”
“I’m good,” I replied. I was more anxious about the results. All the stories I read on the Internet showed the range of possible treatments. Not all of them ended in a happily ever after. In fact, some people gave up and opted to adopt. An option I’d consider, but only after it seemed impossible to conceive on our own.
“Good, good,” Dr. Day repeated sitting on the chair across from the sofa where we sat. “Your results are back and I must say it’s promising. Terrance, your sperm have decreased motility. It’s low enough to make it difficult to have children on your own, but it’s something we can help with.”
“But we already have one son,” Terrance said.
“I said difficult, not impossible. Now what this means is you’re welcome to continue trying the more traditional methods, but if you want to increase your chances to conceive, we offer artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.”
“The first option is to take your sperm and implant them into Vanessa. It has a lower success rate, but it’s one option. The second, IVF or in vitro fertilization, has the higher success rate, but it would involve obtaining eggs from Vanessa and that involves hormones. We’d need to perform a procedure to retrieve the eggs. The lab would combine the eggs and sperm here and when you’re ready we implant several fertilized eggs into the uterus.”
“But we don’t want to end up with twins or triplets.”
Dr. Day continued to explain the ins and outs of each procedure we agreed to try the first option, artificial insemination, and after several unsuccessful tries, we’d consider IVF. After receiving instructions on what to do. We left the office and returned home to a car parked in our driveway.
“Who’s this?” I asked. The car was unfamiliar to me.
“Oh, babe. I forgot. With everything going on, I forgot to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“Terry will be staying with us for a few days.”
The driver side car opened and Terry stepped out. When I first met him, he looked like he and Terrance could be brothers. They still did, but Terrance had gained more muscle for his career in football giving him at least 40 pound gain over him.
“Well what’s a few days?” I asked.
“I don’t know, they’re doing renovations on the house next door. That’s where he’s moving to. They said two weeks. I didn’t think it would be a big deal. If you don’t want him here…”
“No, that’s fine. I just…I need a nap after today. That was a lot to take in.”
“I know. Well let’s say ‘hi’ and then get you into bed.”
“Terry!” My husband wrapped his friend in a tight hug. They dabbed and laughed at their own silliness.
“Vanessa,” Terry opened his arms and took a step towards me after Terrance stepped back. “It’s good to see you.”
“You, too, Terry,” I answered, but it wasn’t completely true. Part of me dreaded his presence just as I was trying to reconnect with my husband. I didn’t need a friend taking the attention I wanted to hog to myself. Sharing him with our son was one thing, waiting for him to finish hanging out with the boys was another.
“Thanks for letting me stay with you guys.”
“Of course,” Terrance said. His smile extended from ear to ear. I’m sure the news from the doctor wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but his best friend, his brother from another mother, was here.
Maybe I was wrong about this. Perhaps, Terry’s arrival could help Terrance stay positive through our attempts to conceive. I just wanted my husband back. At this point, my plan was to have a baby and regain Terrance’s affection. As long as Terry wasn’t a distraction to the plan, he was welcome.
by Angelique Grey
notes: I’ve decided to finish this story I started awhile ago. the second part is finally coming together in my mind. I should have it ready within the week.