Today's cloned mammals and post-menopausal conceptions steal all of the media attention, but it's comforting to know that most pregnancies are still the result of natural sex. IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, AI, and ICSI are acronyms that are entering the vocabulary of the mainstream Infertility Nation, the population of which increases as the patience for natural processes wears thin from cycle to unfulfilled cycle. Soon there will be enough abbreviations for Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to qualify for its own infertility edition of the game, Trivia.
What's Your Conception Style?
But even though the numbers of children born of technologically begotten conceptions are going up, still most children come from parents who have successfully achieved not IVF (in vitro fertilization), but IBF (in bed fertilization). These Posturepedics parents generally fall into three distinct groups: the mathematicians, the merry wanderers, and the shocked.
The mathematicians are the couples who are so serious about planning their life together that they will try to plan their pregnancies as well, as if any formula involving children could ever be valid. They call it family planning. I call it chaos theory.
Nevertheless, many couples do scheme and plot the perfect time to have the perfect baby for their perfect lives. They consider the optimal financial timing, philosophize about the most successful spacing of siblings, and design the intertwining of family careers. They make coital calendars with X-rated hieroglyphics and coordinate romantic trysts based on urine and little machines. They are devastated when all of the tumblers don't line up the right way on that one month on their calendar circled with the red glitter paint. When deadlines pass they make it possible for infertility doctors to make a good living.
The merry wanderers don't plan to that exact a degree, but instead tread teasingly through an acceptable mind set in which conception is neither aggressively sought nor avoided by the seductively risky "living dangerously" approach.
The shocked are those others who get their snug and warm hedonistically woven rugs pulled out from under them when, in spite of their best efforts, fate steps in with an amazing feat of untimely fertility and ruins their childless carnival and seasonal runs to Club Med.
Except for Immaculate Conceptions, no one can predict exactly when conception will occur. But it probably will occur for most sexually engaging couples. There are the infertile couples, surely. But they're the minority that fall through the procreation cracks, and their rising numbers due to technology that borders on feats no less amazing than alchemy are easily offset by the vast majority of spontaneous pregnancies. And when the pregnancy test reads positive (formerly called The Silence of the Rabbits), all three groups take out their pencils to calculate their lives around that most profound Holy Day of Obligation, the due date. At this point they are all mathematicians, and it's time to pick out a doctor.