Trying to conceive a son almost killed my husband. Killed may be an exaggeration; almost gave him a heart attack is more accurate.
After my husband and I were married for eight years, I decided it was time for a son. Like ordering up a desired entree at a restaurant, my request to the Universe was specific: I’ll have the healthy boy special. And for my sides . . . let me see, ah yes, one penis and two testicles, please.
Making a baby boy became my mission. I needed a plan, so I turned to the most unreliable source of information available: the internet. I spent days researching ways to increase the odds of having a son. I wanted something more than timing and position suggestions. Our plan involved caffeine pills.
“How many of these things am I supposed to take?”
“Um,”—pausing, I briefly glanced up at my husband—“the lady said 12.”
“Man. Seems like a lot,” he mumbled.
“Do whatever you wanna do. I’m busy,” I said.
With that bit of loving encouragement, my husband took all 12 double strength caffeine pills. Our baby boy making process was unconventional, but I had been assured by the power of positive thinking and the internet that this was our best course of action. Determination was going to produce a baby boy. In hindsight, we should have done it the old fashioned way: booze and banging.
After he took enough caffeine pills to buzz a dormitory of college students, we had sex. A few hours later, my husband woke me.
“Honey. Honey. HONEY!”
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Turn on the light!”
“WHOA! What the fuck is up with your eyes? You look crazy.”
“I don’t know! I feel like I need to go work!” he said, breathing like a racehorse who’s just won the Triple Crown.
“OK, freak. It’s the middle of the night. You’re not going to work. What do you want me to do?” I asked.
“I don’t know!”
“Do you want me to call an ambulance?”
“Yes!” he said.
I was shocked. This is a man who has smashed off the tip of his finger, bandaged it with Duct Tape, and finished the workday before heading to the hospital. If he agreed to an ambulance, he must be dying.
My husband had consumed 2400 mg of caffeine: the equivalent of 24 cups of coffee. After a couple of hours in the ER, his heart rate returned to normal and we were discharged to go home.
As we were leaving, the attending nurse gave us some baby making advice: “Relax. It’ll happen when it’s supposed to.” We nodded our heads in agreement, exchanged sideways glances, and left quickly. We wanted out of there before the nurse discovered our secret: We already had kids. A lot of them.
At the time of our crazy caffeine caper, my husband and I were already the proud parents of four children—all girls. Of course we loved our daughters. That said, we wanted one more child, and felt it wouldn’t hurt to sway for a son. Something I never would have even considered before I had kids. But then I gave birth to four daughters in a row.
In the hospital I realized how ridiculous we were being. There is nothing quite like a self-induced, humiliating, expensive medical emergency to get you to realize how foolish you’re being and how much you already have to be grateful for. My husband and I had always been lucky in the baby making department; his sperm are in love with my eggs—at least his girl swimmers are.
Nine months after the ER incident, I delivered our fifth child: a healthy, beautiful baby girl. Our youngest daughter is now almost seven years old. She is a bright, wild child with absolutely no volume control. But clearly her hyperactive nature is not her fault. Naturally, we blame it on the caffeine.