My son has no idea what physical feats I chose to endure to conceive him. Of course, my first husband and I both worked at the baby-making process until it lost all its charm. I came to the conclusion that my eggs must’ve been little cloaked prudes with wings, always escaping their suitors.
Halfway through our first year of trying, my mind, body, and senses increasingly demoted physical lovemaking from its mediocre passion rating to one of menial labor, equivalent to fueling up my car. Luckily, the physical task smelled better than the station’s pump fumes (most of the time). Near the end of our regular ritual, Mr. Sperm Bank hardly broke a sweat because, by that stage in our relationship, he’d needed only fifty seven seconds to accomplish his manly breeding deed.
During the second year of repetitive and unproductive baby-making attempts, I tried a new upside-down routine, literally. I inverted my body so gravity would propel my husband’s sperm toward my eggs. Either my eggs needed chasing down, or his sperm needed some guidance in direction and a gravity boost, and I wasn’t sure which was the real case.
The whole scene was like a surreal circus act. Once he’d finished his role as the primary thruster, I dove into a full handstand against a corner wall of our bedroom for as many minutes as I could handle. I felt like an oddly-fashioned clown, one that lacked the bright makeup, big red shoes, and rainbow-ruffled outfit. “Humble” understated my exposed pale skin and bottom-up stance.
This post-ritual performance provided my pompous partner with a chance for an occasional chat. He sipped iced tea and talked, his face aligned with my thighs and nether regions, upturned. But his eyes mainly gazed at my boobs. Maybe they looked better that way. If I looked up through the center of my bobbles, our eyes didn’t connect. I didn’t want to talk; I wanted to make my baby.
His voice fell distant into a mumble while I visualized swimming sperm, anxiously awaiting eggs, babies, birth. I even pictured one of my high school biology cartoon movie’s blue sperm character penetrating a pink egg. At the end of the movie, everyone smiled with perfect teeth, even the baby that suddenly popped up, an unwrinkled, chubby-pink bundle, pre-clad in a white diaper.
The scene turned to hazy static as a blood flood throbbed inside my forehead and behind my eyes, and I dropped down to wobble into the bathroom to freshen up. When handstands didn’t work, I tried other routines. A few times, I’d propped my bottom up on the highest possible stack of soft, suede pillows until my chin met my chest; another time, I’d hung face down off the back of the sofa with my white cheeks up in the air; and, just once, I’d held my body in an almost bicycle-type position, on my back with my hands holding my hips high into the air, legs sprawled open and leaning down across my face.
Of course, we weren’t exempt from ridicule. When a couple has been married for nine years and still don’t have children, people ask too many questions.
Mothers and grandmothers prodded, “When are you going to have a baby?”
At a family reunion once I was sure someone whispered, “Maybe they don’t know how to do it right.”
Of course, we understood the basic concept for making a baby; we’d been practicing for years, and we charted out the best days to work on the project together.
My by-law family, a large and fertile Catholic group with hundreds of kin, didn’t hold back. One brother-in-law said, “Well, we know the fertility problem doesn’t stem from our dudes!” Then he laughed out loud alongside his fellow chimps.
That was it! My eggs weren’t prudes; it had to be that my husband’s sperm were dimwitted and slow. It took a seriously ridiculous number of unorthodox athletics before conception. But it proved that we were not inept. A pregnancy test confirmed our success. My athletic feats must’ve been my burden to bear because, to my surprise, Mother Morning Sickness didn’t greet me.
My son has no idea what physical feats I had to endure to conceive him. Someday, I’ll have to share my story with him, just so he can be grossed out by the mere “visual feats” of it all.