By Andrea Hendricks, Clinical Psychologist
When it comes to therapy, a lot of what happens is that I say things out loud that my clients are thinking. These things I say are totally normal, but clients have been feeling awful about it.
It’s feeling like you can’t do something you thought you would be able to do. It’s feeling like your dream of being a mom since you were a little girl won’t be realized. It’s feeling like you’re a failure and your body is failing you. It’s feeling like you’re not living up to what it means to be a woman. It’s feeling inadequate and angry toward yourself and your body.
The thing most women don’t realize though is that this is all completely normal. You don’t realize how many others are going through the exact same thing. Even for someone who hasn’t lost a pregnancy, every month hurts like a loss when they find out they aren’t pregnant. Because every month you have that hope.
If someone told you that you would struggle with infertility, but you would get pregnant in 18 months or even five years, you could do that. You could deal with that until the time came. It’s the not knowing and having no control that makes us hurt and struggle.
A lot of times I see women who are successful and brilliant and great at everything who are struggling with infertility. It’s women who know how to plan everything. They run companies with law degrees and PhDs, but now they are faced with something they don’t have control over. Something they can’t plan.
That is very, very difficult for most women, and there have to be ways to cope with these emotional pressures. Here are a few:
- Prep those you are close with. Let these people know in advance that there will be at least one day a month you’ll be a mess if you find out again that you aren’t pregnant. Acknowledge that it is a huge loss, and share your feelings that every month it feels further away.
- Have someone you can honestly talk to. This may be people you are close to or not. A lot of times women don’t know who to talk to or what feelings or reactions might come from others. And others don’t always know how to react. Even if you’re in a group of women struggling with similar issues, people get pregnant at different times, and that can bring up feelings of jealousy and other complicated issues. You need to talk about what you’re going through though, so find someone who understands that you can be open and honest with. Therapy may be your answer. Remember that in therapy you can say anything. The therapist has probably heard your similar feelings and frustrations at least 20 times before.
- Take the best care of yourself. This is the most important time to take care of yourself. We need to get you in the best shape emotionally and physically that you’ve ever been in. You are putting money, sweat and tears into this fertility journey you are on, so invest in yourself during this time too.
- Don’t ignore the couple factor. There’s no doubt that intimacy is affected, and it’s important to address those issues. It’s crucial to maintain a healthy relationship in spite of or parallel to what you’re going through. Everything shouldn’t just be about infertility in your relationship. Make your relationship the best it can be. Having a baby does not make it easier or better, especially if the relationship is not already strong.
- See someone familiar with fertility issues. A therapist who has worked with patients on fertility issues before will know what roadblocks and issues to expect and prep for. Again, they have heard it all before and probably know how to express what you’re feeling better than you do. It’s a no judgement zone about a topic that can be very taboo.
It should not be taboo though, and so many others are going through the same things, dealing with the same emotional pressures month after month. For many, it does come to an end, and the journey ends with success. When my clients come in with their new baby or send me pictures of babies, I cry every time.
I love seeing their happiness and joy, but remember that it’s always a process. After the baby is born, we start working on the stress of motherhood!
At Alabama Fertility, we treat all patients with the care and compassion that complex reproductive issues require. As always, we encourage you to ask your doctors and nurses at Alabama Fertility as many questions as you need to in order to find out more.