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Worst sex ever

Last night my husband and I had what might be the worst sex we've ever had.

Now let's get this straight from the start: I am crazy about Paul. He makes me feel understood, which is a rare talent. He's kind and not at all shy about showing affection. He's brilliant — the smartest person I know, and I am not a gentle judge — and has a sly sense of humor that often catches me by surprise, much to my delight. I am grateful every day that he loves me. ("But why?" I've asked him. "You're nice," he answers. So demonstrative language isn't his strong suit. Big deal.)

But we've known each other for about eight years now. When we were first together, we couldn't keep our hands off each other (to say nothing of our mouths). Now, well, we're used to each other, and while the sex we do have is warm and exciting in a still-waters-run-deep kind of way, it's not as frequent nor as intense.

It is easy to blame infertility.

First you have the treatments, which are stressful and sometimes painful, hardly conducive to lust. Then, in my case, you have the aftermath — a month at a time when my body has been healing from some insult or other. Finally, if you're delusional enough to feel there's a chance you might conceive during the rare months when you're not in treatment, you'll be doing it under duress: sex on a schedule without even the spur of hope that fertile couples feel when they see that clear and stretchy mucus.

I am going somewhere with this.

In case I did ovulate over the weekend, it seemed like we should cover our bases, no matter how futile a pursuit. So I left off my impenetrable Polarfleece pajamas, took a deep breath, and gingerly crept across the mattress to where Paul lay.

I have to confess it was awful.

Sad and freaked out to begin with, I felt no desire whatsoever. I felt entirely goal-oriented. (This can be an exciting approach to sex, but it does tend to dampen the mood when you bite your tongue to keep from asking, "Are you close? How 'bout now? Okay, now?") My body didn't respond to any of the usual suave blandishments — anyone who tells you that high estrogen levels increase your natural lubricity has never visited the Mojave that is my vagina these days.

But to accomplish the goal, the well-placed deposit of a copious spermy payload, I willingly played along. What else could I do but pretend to enjoy it? The goal was indeed accomplished, with heroic effort and no small relief.

I lay awake for a long time afterward. Not only did my body feel misused, not only did I feel angry and sad about the likely failure of this cycle, but I also felt small and dishonest to boot.

I'll make it up to us both sometime, once I stop believing this fiasco has eradicated all sexual feeling once and for all.