Pregnant women are everywhere. They are on the street, on the subway, in the shopping mall, and in just about every store you step into. And when you are having trouble getting pregnant, their presence seems pervasive. Like ants on a hot summer day…no matter what you do, they just keep marching towards you!
Dealing with the “we are expecting” texts, the “coming in December 2016” Facebook posts, and the “join us as we shower our little one with love” emails is not easy when you continue to come up short each month. You start to wish that you lived in a bubble where no babies or women about to birth them were allowed. But unfortunately, no matter how much you wish them away, they will still be there when you open your eyes. Here are a few words of advice on dealing with the emotional aspects of infertility.
First things first, it is important to recognize that what you are going through stinks, big time. There is just no easy or fancy way to say it or scream it: it just stinks. In fact, infertility is one of the most distressing events that a couple or individual will ever face. It is such a devastating diagnosis that many in the mental health arena liken infertility’s impact to cancer’s.
Infertility can evoke feelings of loss, isolation, and a major lack of control. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and downright emotional mayhem. Relationships become strained, work performance can be compromised, and social interactions can become limited. If some or all of the above have happened to you, you are not alone.
And while we certainly know a lot about infertility and how to treat it, we are most certainly not the experts on how to treat the mental health issues caused by infertility. However, what we do know are friends in high places (a.k.a. mental health providers), and we can help point you in the right direction. We are big fans of our social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists who specialize in the treatment of the psychological impact of infertility. They are major players on our infertility treatment team, and we frequently work together to provide couples with their help.
We are also serious supporters of support groups (both in person and online) as well as advocacy groups devoted to supporting women and couples who are struggling with infertility. Such groups can help you navigate the process, cope with physical and emotional changes due to fertility diagnosis and treatment, and deal with the fear surrounding the treatment and possible outcomes (unfortunately, things may not work the first time). Bottom line, they can do a lot.
We are going to say it again: infertility stinks. It’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to feel frustrated, and it’s okay to want to scream (and maybe even throw something at the wall). However, getting down on yourself or your partner won’t change your situation. Withdrawing from friends, family, and your daily activities may limit the number of pregnant women you see, but it won’t change the way you are feeling. But asking for help, seeking out support groups, enrolling in counseling, and perhaps initiating medications will make a difference. And while you can’t totally avoid pregnant women or the “I am pregnant on the first try” text message, you can avoid the store Buy, Buy Baby on a Saturday afternoon. Trust us, it’s no fun there anyway!