It’s come to this. Matt and I are going to see my psychiatrist together, Dr. Hayward.
This isn’t our first joint visit to see Dr. Hayward. We have been to see him many times together, as a matter of fact. The first time we saw him together was when Matt suggested we have sex.
I was a virgin when I met Matt. No, not just a virgin. I had never even kissed a man before him. He was my first everything. And while, with the aid of medications, I was able to tolerate and even greatly enjoy his kisses and other signs of affection, sex was a whole different ballgame. To say I was terrified would be an understatement.
Matt was incredibly patient. It took six months of dating before I was willing to remove my pants or shirt in his presence. After that, I continued to be reluctant to remove my undergarments, but I eventually consented with the caveat that we would stay under the covers. My being naked was frightening, but less frightening than Matt being naked.
I had seen penises before. You can’t get through life without catching a glimpse here and there, if only in your biology textbook. But his was the first I ever saw in real life. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’d seen my nephew Jayden’s penis while my sister was changing his diaper. But there was, obviously, no comparison.
Matt’s penis both terrified and intrigued me. It was big—bigger than I thought it would be. I couldn’t imagine how such a thing could fit inside me. It seemed clean, but I always thought of sex as an intrinsically dirty act.
But at the same time, God, how I wanted it. I loved the way it grew hard when he’d run his hands over my body. I never told this to Matt, but I used to dream about it.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to get past my fear, no matter how badly I wanted him. So we made a trip to see Dr. Hayward, so he could counsel two adults in their thirties about how to have sex. Matt’s face was bright red through most of the first session, but after talking it out for three sessions, I felt reassured enough to allow my boyfriend to make love to me.
And it was really, really…
Well, there aren’t words.
In any case, Dr. Hayward was successful in allowing Matt and I to consummate our relationship, so I’m optimistic he’ll figure this one out.
I sit on a chair in the waiting room, remembering how at my first visit, I was too nervous about the chairs being dirty to even take a seat. Back then, the thought of even going on a date with Matt scared me, and now he’s my husband. Those pills really are a miracle.
Matt looks as anxious as I feel. He’s tapping his fingers against his knee, which is something I’ve noticed him doing when he’s nervous. He told me once he used to tap his feet when he was nervous, but he can’t do that anymore. He can’t move his ankles or feet at all anymore. I look at him and flash him a tiny smile, and he returns an equally miniscule grin.
By the time Dr. Hayward calls us in, we’re both a wreck.
Dr. Hayward’s office is small enough that Matt’s chair has to squeeze between the couch and the wall. I know from experience he won’t be able to do a full turn and will have to back himself out. It’s almost as bad as our bathroom at home. But like at home, he makes do.
“So, Matt.” Dr. Hayward folds his arms across his large belly as he settles into his leather chair. “Anna says you’ve been thinking of starting a family.”
“He is,” I quickly clarify. Matt glares at me but I don’t want there to be any misperceptions. “I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Matt gives Dr. Hayward a look. “She won’t even discuss it with me. If I bring it up, she runs away. This was the only way she was willing to talk about it.”
“It’s not a good idea,” I reiterate. “It’s foolish.”
“It’s foolish to want to have a child with my wife?” Matt shrugs helplessly. “I love Anna. I want to start a family with her. Is that so wrong?”
We both look at Dr. Hayward. He’s going to tell Matt I’m correct—I’m sure of it.
“Matt,” Dr. Hayward says, “I think Anna is just worried that her condition might negatively impact any child you have.”
“Look, nobody’s perfect,” Matt says. “Anna is…” He looks at me so tenderly that I nearly burst into tears. “She’s great. She’d be a great mom. Even if she doesn’t believe it. I know she would be.”
I can only shake my head. He has no idea.
“Please tell me what I can do,” he murmurs. “Whatever I have to tell you, I’ll do it. You know I’m going to help you with the baby. It’s not going to be just you going at it alone. We’ll be partners.”
“I just can’t…”
“You’re so much better though,” he points out. “The OCD is under control. You can do this.”
I can hear the plea in his voice. He wants this so badly. I don’t have the heart to say it to him, which is why I brought him here. Dr. Hayward needs to be the bearer of bad news.
“Matt,” Dr. Hayward says quietly, looking my husband in the eyes. “You know that if Anna were to try to get pregnant, she’d have to stop taking all her current medications.”
His mouth falls open. He didn’t know. He stares at me, his eyes glassy. He doesn’t want me off my medications. He knows what I used to be like. He doesn’t want to go back to the days when I had to wash my hands every fifteen minutes and flew into a panic at the thought of a kiss.
“Jesus,” he breathes. “I… I didn’t realize…”
“There are other medications we could switch them for,” Dr. Hayward says. “Zoloft is a similar medication to Paxil that’s considered safe in pregnancy.”
“Zoloft didn’t work for Anna,” Matt says. I’m surprised he remembers this—I wouldn’t think he was keeping track of my medications.
“That didn’t work either.”
“They may not have been as effective as her current regimen,” Dr. Hayward admits. “But there will be some benefit…”
The room is silent while Matt absorbs this new piece of information. I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure if there’s anything to say.
It’s finally Dr. Hayward who breaks the silence: “Perhaps adoption?”
Matt lifts his brown eyes. “Who the hell would give us a kid?” he snaps. “I’m crippled and Anna’s mentally ill.”
He appears to be upset.
Matt rubs his hands over his face. He sees now the biggest reason why I have been resistant to contemplating a family. I know this will disappoint him, but he will certainly understand. Neither of us want me to be without my medications. He knows what that means.
“So if we did this,” he says slowly, “Anna would only be off her meds for a year… I mean, maybe not even a year. Right?”
He’s still considering this? He can’t be serious.
“It depends how long it takes you to conceive,” Dr. Hayward says.
He glances down at Matt’s legs when he says it, making the assumption that his ability to conceive may be as impaired as his ability to walk. It is not an unreasonable possibility. While Matt has been able to perform for me sexually for the most part, he is not always capable. He sometimes has difficulty maintaining his erection and usually takes a pill to ensure a pleasurable experience for me. There are times when he’s unable to achieve orgasm. He always tells me that it’s fine, he doesn’t mind as long as I’m satisfied, but ejaculation is mandatory for procreation.
And then, of course, my age should be taken into account. I’m not young for a first time mother by any means. Female fertility drops precipitously after age thirty. Even with a young, virile partner, it might not be easy for me to conceive.
It could take me a year to even get pregnant. Maybe longer.
Matt looks at me, a deep crease between his eyebrows. “We could try for a couple of months, couldn’t we? See how it goes?”
I get a sick feeling in my stomach. I don’t want to go back to the way I was before the medications. I remember the feeling of panic that gripped me around the chest like a vise on a daily basis. He’s right—I’m much better than I used to be.
How could he ask this of me? How could he ask me to go back to that? Of all people, he should be the last one who would want me to go back to being the old Anna.
He must really want a child very badly.
Anna and I will never have children.
It’s taking a bit for the reality to sink in. I was in shock when I heard the sacrifice Anna would have to make for us to have a child. I have to admit—for a moment, I wanted her to do it. I didn’t care if she’d have to stop taking all her medications. What is a year in the scheme of things?
That was really selfish. I know it now. Anna could never go off her meds. She was a wreck before. She could barely be near me. We can’t risk going back to that.
So that’s it.
It’s been two days since our appointment with Dr. Hayward and I’m trying not to think about it. I’m sitting on our couch, playing Grand Theft Auto on the Xbox Anna bought me on our ginormous TV to take my mind off the whole thing. If we had a baby, I probably wouldn’t be able to do that. I’d be busy doing baby stuff—there’d be no time for Xbox games. And I’d probably sleep like shit. And Anna would be too tired to want to have sex anymore.
There’s a silver lining to this whole no kids thing. Plus I’ve got my niece and now a nephew on the way. And of course, we’re getting a new house, and now we don’t have to worry about how much it’ll cost because we won’t be paying any childcare expenses.
This is fine. It’ll be fine.
I’m really involved in my game when I hear the front door open. I crane my neck and see Anna come inside, clutching a plastic bag in her hand. She waves to me and I take my hand off the controller to wave back. I assume she’s going to go into the kitchen to start dinner, but instead she pushes my wheelchair out of the way and sits down next to me on the couch to watch me play.
“What are you playing?” she asks me.
“Grand Theft Auto.”
“Basically, you go around stealing cars.”
“So why are you in a helicopter?”
“Well, some cops were chasing me, so I was trying to escape.”
“And why are you jumping out of the helicopter?”
“Don’t worry—I have a parachute.”
“So why aren’t you opening it?”
And now I’m dead. I put down my controller to look at Anna, whose usually pale face is flushed pink. She’s sitting primly on the couch like she always does, still clutching that plastic bag. I feel a sudden surge of crazy love for this woman. I love Anna so much. I don’t care if we’ll never have kids. Well, I care, but it’s okay. It’s enough that I’ve got her.
“I bought something,” she says, thrusting the plastic bag in my direction.
“Uh, okay,” I say. “That’s good. And everything went all right?”
“No, I mean…” She smiles nervously. “I bought something for us.”
I shake my head at her, but I take the bag from her. I reach inside and pull out a pink box.
Holy shit, it’s an ovulation kit.
“Anna,” I say hoarsely. “We don’t have to do this. Really.”
“I want to do it,” she says firmly.
“You can’t go off your meds…”
She looks me in the eyes. “I already started tapering them.”
Christ, this is heavy. I don’t want to lose all the progress Anna has made. I don’t want her to go back to the way she used to be. But if I’m being honest, I do want us to have a child. It was tearing me apart that we couldn’t.
“I think you’ll make an incredible father,” Anna says.
I didn’t think I could love her any more than I did five minutes ago, but there it is.
We’re going to try for a baby.
To be continued...