As small children we role play as adults. We are explorers, teachers, doctors, police officers, presidents. Most often we are mommies and daddies. Children are socialized from the earliest moments to aspire to be like their parents and have children of their own. Occasionally, as children grow up to adults, they decide that they don’t want children, and that is a fine decision. However, for those that want children and have difficulty having them, it is a devastating reality. This reality forces us to redefine our sense of self…our very identity. In turn, this can produce a sense of loss – mourning the future that we thought was ours. While there may still be options, the story book ideal of the magical pregnancy, created and shared in love is shattered as medical professionals, family and friends begin to weigh in and discuss the most intimate aspects of your life.
No two people ever experience infertility the same the way. This is an extremely personal journey. Often, those living with infertility feel like the only person on the planet and that no one would understand, even those closest to them. If you (and your partner) are living with infertility for any reason, the first step is to have a full medical work up by a fertility specialist. It is also extremely important to ensure that you have adequate emotional supports which may include a therapist who specializes in fertility issues.
Infertility can have many root causes such as medical diagnosis/treatment, loss of reproductive organs, unexplained infertility, multiple losses or simply due to increased age. Often, a couple will be able to have an easy and successful pregnancy and then struggle with secondary infertility (difficulty conceiving a second or subsequent pregnancy). This can be particularly frustrating and upsetting if the first pregnancy was so easy. Wanting to grow your family and struggling to do so can pull focus from the rest of your life. If you are not careful, you can become stagnated and begin struggle as you try to move forward.
Living with infertility can become isolating if not managed. Are you having difficulty attending baby showers or celebrations of others’ growing families? Do you feel increased resentment or guilt? Do you find yourself pulling away? It can be so difficult for others to understand that your sadness is not in relationship to the happiness you feel for them, even though it may be difficult for you to share it.
Infertility can also cause marital woe. It is important to remember that infertility does not happen to an individual person, it happens to a couple. Often, one partner may feel guilty or can feel blamed. It is important to be able to remain a unified team and to understand the root causes and possible solutions to your family building.
Infertility can also be a result of other medical conditions. In many situations, there is an option of preserving your fertility before undergoing medical treatment. It is important to ask your medical care team if your fertility is at risk and what options are available to you prior to treatment.
There are many solutions to infertility, including ones that you may not have thought about yet. Keep hope. Seek resources. Take good care of yourself!