Joe Boughner: The Naked Dad


Trying to Make a Baby Can Still Be Romantic

A Guy’s Perspective on Keeping the baby-making romance alive

Back in January, the good folks at Clearblue commissioned a study — the Clearblue Consumer Fertility Insights Survey Among the findings, 14% of men said that "keeping the romance alive" was the most stressful thing about trying to conceive. As something of a geek for most of my life, I would've voted for "finding a woman with whom to have a baby in the first place" but I don't think that was on the list.

Still, the geek thing did get me thinking. And so, my investigation of romance and procreation today begins, as such stories are inclined to do, in a high school drama club.

When I was in high school I was part of just such a club. This likely shocks many of you, as I've clearly grown to be a man's man who's never shown a particular flair for the dramatic, but I hung with the theatre crowd. Granted, I was a stage technician, not an actor, but it did mean I got to go on the drama club's field trip to Vancouver one year, where we got to take in a professional staging of Showboat. 

And it was there, as Joe (the one on the stage, not the one writing this post) mournfully sang about that Ol' Man River that just keeps rolling along, that I realized an innocent part of me had died. 

"See the water? What do you think, motorized gobos?"

"Could be a computer projection but it's probably gobos."

In that short back and forth, my fellow stage tech Ashley and I had deconstructed one of the more stunning visual effects in the show, concluding that the haunting image of the water moving across the stage was probably created by shining light through a metal template that was rotating thanks to a small motor, creating the illusion of a rolling river.

Whereas the vast majority of the audience was probably losing themselves in a powerful moment, we were dorkily wondering how the effects team was doing it. The knowledge we'd gained as theatre techs had, it seemed, ruined our ability to simply sit back and enjoy the show.

Which brings me back, quite logically, to the issue of baby making.

Again, the Clearblue survey found that 14% of men found "keeping the romance alive" most stressful when trying to conceive a child. Interestingly, only 8 per cent of women said the same. For us guys, it seems that finding ways to keep the moment magical while focusing on all of the behind the scenes reality of trying to make a baby is a challenge. How can we get to that place where we can, erm, sit back and enjoy the show?

The same survey also found that men and women feel that taking measures to manage stress and ensure relaxation is the most important piece of information they would pass along to those that are trying to conceive. So maybe there's something to that. Don't focus on the challenges of making a baby, focus on the fact that you have a reason to spend more time with your spouse. Help her to manage her stress. Give her a back rub. Spend some time with her. Make her laugh.

Or get relaxation and romance tips and tricks from an expert who actually knows something about it instead of some random daddy blogger who uses freaking drama club stories as metaphor. For example, prior to writing this I'd never even heard of a digital ovulation test. A gadget that lets you know your two best days to try to conceive so it can take the pressure off the rest of the month? What guy doesn't like gadgets?!

When I walked out of that theatre in Vancouver I felt sort of sad, like I'd lost the ability to appreciate theatre for what it was. But as I got older, my take on it changed. I didn't lose the ability to enjoy a show, I gained the ability to appreciate it on a different level. I can appreciate the work that goes into making stage magic happen. I can appreciate the planning and logistics and training and hard work that the crew puts in to making their art.

I guess what I'm saying is if I can rediscover the magic in gobos and light gels, the reality of trying to conceive shouldn't be enough to kill the romance in the bedroom. And look on the bright side, even if it does feel a bit too much like work, at least you don't have thousands of people watching, critiquing your efforts.

Or pointing a spotlight at you. Gobo or not, that would be really unnerving.