Infertility and You
For many the current research on infertility and its effects on a couple is enlightening. For most couples these effects are lived, if not know. Did you know that the emotional pain women experience when going through infertility is similar to those struggling with cancer, HIV, and chronic pain; that feeling distressed, out of control and overwhelmed is completely normal when experiencing infertility; and that coping with infertility is very difficult?
Is this all too familiar? Have you been wondering if you were making more of these challenges than you need to? Stop for a moment, take care of yourself and know that this deeply personal pain is real, understandable and manageable with the right kind of help.
While all of the feelings are whirling around in your mind and heart, they unfold not in a vacuum, but rather in the middle of your life. During this time, which may feel like an eternity, your relationship undergoes tremendous stress. However, infertility does not have to define either you or your relationship. The accompanying challenges can draw you closer through the love that brought you together in the first place. It is possible to learn new ways of taking care of one another, as you grapple with the emotional and physical challenges. While the priority of taking care of one another is invaluable, sometimes you need a helping hand to get you there.
Research confirms the beneficial effects of counseling on patient infertility. As you learn to incorporate more effective ways to process life, to integrate stress management techniques and to apply new coping skills you both can be brought to a more grounded and resilient place.
While there are some who can cope with the emotional fluctuations of infertility, for many the experience of infertility is enmeshed in a tumultuous process of pregnancy loss and powerful feelings. Early term miscarriage and neonatal demise oftentimes bring out heart wrenching feelings of emptiness, loss and guilt. Have you noticed that disruptive feelings of doubt over your ability to conceive creep into your waking and sleeping hours? Has this interfered with your ability to think clearly and to feel connected to your spouse? Have you felt as though the more you want intimacy and relatedness the more you are pushing one another away? Have you become fearful that perhaps this dream of yours will never become a reality? These are all understandable concerns, which can be very disruptive to your lives.
Misunderstandings between you and your spouse can make things even more difficult. If you were challenged to communicate effectively before the stresses of infertility crept it, it is likely that this dynamic will intensify. Stereotypically women express their emotions more readily and want to talk out their thoughts. In sharp contrast, men often focus on problem-solving and generally do not let themselves feel each monthly loss. However, it is important to remember that while this is going on, men also experience loss, but are oftentimes unable to identify, process or express the feelings.
Infertility is difficult, but it is even harder if you do not have the support of your partner or spouse. Ideally your partner is one who can really understand what you’re going through and be there in lockstep with you. However, sometimes he may seem disconnected, withdrawn or just completely in the dark. On occasion it is the man in the couple who is struggling with infertility. Here the couple’s problems can be exacerbated by his compromised ability to communicate feelings surrounding his masculinity.
Counseling can help you better understand and support each other and sort through your options, even when there is disagreement and sadness. When a couple comes to a crossroads and is deciding what to do next, it is helpful to speak with a counselor. Each must understand what is involved in making an informed choice and what the treatment options may involve, including the financial and emotional stresses. Where do you go from here? What are the ethical considerations that you may face? How do you deal with feeling that the medicalization of this process has left you lost in a lab shuffle? Is surrogacy next? What new emotions are percolating just under the surface? Is adoption a better route for you and your marriage? These are very serious questions that need to be addressed. The assistance of a counselor can help you make the best decisions for you.
Even if you are not especially distressed or anxious, counseling is growth-oriented and can bring you more support in your life, healthier coping skills in your relationships and the insight of a professional who can facilitate your journey throughout this process. You do not have to be in crisis mode and fighting depression or anxiety attacks to have to have a reason to call me. Whether you are prompted by a clear reason or a vague sense, please know that you do not have to go through this infertility journey alone and without help or compassion. All you have to do is make the phone call for a complimentary session to begin your journey of growth and healing. The rest is up to me.