Family Planning

The Trials of Infertility

I’ve been having a lot of sex lately. Back when I was randy teenager this would have seemed like an impossible dream-come-true, but now that I’m thirty-seven-and my wife and I are still trying to fill our empty nursery-it’s a bit soul-crushing. Where is our first child, the one that throws cereal on the floor and cries at night and gets excited about opening Christmas presents? Where is this little phantom that my wife and I have imagined for so many years?

It never occurred to me that I couldn’t be a father. I just assumed that it was a rite of passage that I would embrace when my life was ready for it. Back when I was going through puberty, fatherhood was something that I wanted to avoid until I had a career and other grown-up accessories like a red sports car, but I never dreamed that becoming a father would be denied me. The nuns in my Catholic school made it seem like I only had to unhook a woman’s bra and then my wandering sinful fingers would do the rest. Sperm was powerful stuff that should be locked away where it belonged. According to these nuns, getting a girl pregnant was dangerously easy. But they lied to me. It’s not easy at all.

There are 6 million couples in the United States who have trouble conceiving. Infertility, which has been on the rise over the past several decades, is generally defined as the inability to conceive after twelve months of unprotected sex. My wife and I have been...

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About the Author

Patrick Hicks teaches creative writing at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.