Experiencing infertility can be like riding a roller coaster that you can’t get off. The ups and downs keep coming on a regular (or not-so-regular) basis as couples plan for ovulation, endure the two-week wait, experience the sadness and frustration of a negative pregnancy test result, then pick themselves back up to try again. For couples in fertility treatment, there is the added stress of new procedures, hormone treatments, doctor visits, endless scans, and significant financial speculation.
Infertility is a full-time emotional job. Most couples find out that they are infertile as a result of being unable to conceive, and it can often come as a shock. It is a devastating prospect, and it’s completely understandable to feel like an emotional wreck sometimes. Here are a few things you to remember during particularly difficult times.
It’s not uncommon for one (or both) partner(s) to feel inadequate, as though they are personally broken and unable to fulfill their biological role. This is a very typical emotion for people struggling with infertility, and it’s one on which you definitely don’t want to perseverate. The way forward is to focus on what you CAN and want to do. Continuing to try naturally, pursuing fertility treatment in its various forms, considering adoption or fostering, or choosing to live a life that is fulfilling in other ways besides being a parent are all valid, very personal choices, and they can all be positive and life-affirming. This is not a personal failure on your part. You are more than your biology.
It’s okay to bow out of baby-related social events, un-follow those friends whose newsfeed is a constant baby-fest, or just cocoon in your closest circle of family and friends for a while. If you find yourself here too long, however, seek professional support. There are counselors who have devoted their practice to helping people navigate the tough emotional terrain of infertility. Don’t let your infertility lead you into depression. If you have already landed there, get help now. A support system is vital on this journey.
It’s normal to feel some strain between you and your partner. Sex often becomes a baby-making mission and loses its charm for one or both partners, who may feel their sex cells are more now important than they are in the bedroom. Be intimate even when you’re not in a fertile window, and reconnect with your partner sexually. Show each other some love that’s just about you two. This will help you to continue supporting each other and avoid the common pitfall of resentment.
Infertility is tough. Battling, working through, and coming to terms with it is a struggle with stress levels that studies have shown are not unlike those of cancer patients. Give yourself a break and realize that you are not alone in your emotional relationship with infertility. Be objective when you can, be kind to yourself, get help when you need it, and protect your relationship with your partner. These key elements will help you deal successfully with the tough emotions surrounding infertility.