I don’t know anyone who looks forward to one day seeing a fertility specialist. We get married to one day start a family. Starting a family is supposed to be exciting and fun. Month after month of not getting pregnant when you fully expect each month to be “the month” can cause a lot of stress. Something that’s supposed to be easy to achieve becomes a huge stress in your life. It’s particularly hard to deal with because you’re used to achieving whatever you put your mind to if only you just work hard enough. Fertility just isn’t one of those things that we can control. We can only do our best. Here are some tips that I hope will be helpful as you are dealing with being diagnosed with the dreaded word “infertility.”
1. Remember that there is no fertility emergency: While you feel stressed and pressure to get pregnant, it’s okay to take a breath and learn about your options. Take your partner to your fertility doc appointments and listen to the options together. Go home and talk about them. Talking about your options and why you are thinking one option is better than an other will bring you closer together as a team. My best success stories involve couples that work together for the common goal of pregnancy and support each other every step of the way.
2. Realize that you are not alone: Fertility problems are so common in today’s society. Please realize that you are not alone in your struggle. Millions of women share your pain and are dealing with the same pain. Unfortuantely, infertility doesn’t get a ribbon. There are no infertility walks that raise money and awareness for the problem. Hopeful parents suffering with the diagnosis are oftentimes suffering in loneliness but don’t let that block you from going where you want to go.
3. Don’t blame yourself: It isn’t uncommon for for my patients to feel guilt for something that is totally out of their control. My patients blame themselves all the time. No one caused infertility to happen to you. I remind my patients that you can only do your best by surrounding yourself with the absolute best that science has to offer.
4. Talk to people around you: If you’ve been married or partnered for even a little while, you will often get the question, “Do you have kids?” I often talk to my patients about how they are going to answer this question as they are starting fertility treatment. Here are some suggestions: Think of making a list of 3 levels of people in your life: The people in Level One pretty much get a full report. Level Two are people who know you’re struggling. They don’t get every detail, but we can be more open, with answers like, ‘We’ve decided to do an IUI.’ Everybody else is in Level Three. They get the standard: ‘We’re trying and will be sure to let you know when it happens.’ The system really works well.
5. Stay connected to your partner: Depending on how long you’ve been together, infertility may be the first major crisis you’ve experienced together. So think of this as an opportunity to make your relationship even stronger than ever. From the start, agree to a plan and keep it flexible. Set limits in terms of expense and treatment, and agree to revisit this on a regular basis. Understand that you and your husband will probably think about and deal with this crisis differently. Set the goal of doing your best to understand one another, and if you come to an impasse, get more information and just keep talking until you come up with a decision that “feels right” to you both. Making a commitment with your partner to have ongoing discussions, share your feelings, and agree on how to proceed will pay big dividends in your relationship; you can make your next medical appointment knowing that you have each other’s full support.
6. Find connections online: My patients receive a lot of online support and talk to me about the online community that they belong to. The community often results in lasting friendships. There are many sites out there that provide this type of support. These fertility sites offer a sense of belonging, tips on how to cope, information and resources, and forums to vent, laugh, cry, and celebrate. For live support groups, check your local hospital, doctor’s office, or the local chapter of organizations like Resolve (www.resolve.org).
As always, I hope this helps