Infertility Counseling“in the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me lay an invincible winter.” Albert Camus
Reclaim control of your own life, while pursuing the dream of creating a new one
One of the most difficult aspects of infertility is the loneliness that so often comes with it. In a world that revolves around parents and children, people who cannot have a baby often feel like misunderstood outsiders. Frequently, the friends and family members who have always been your closest supporters cannot really understand this particular life crisis. As a result, the powerful emotions that accompany infertility often remain bottled inside, increasing your stress and sense of loss.
Seeking the help of a professional can be the first step in finding the support, understanding and validation that you need during this difficult and uncertain time. Counseling can offer a safe haven where you can talk, vent, and deal with the emotions. It can help you come to terms with the losses you have had, it can aid you in making choices and decisions at present, and it can lend you the strength and hope necessary to move beyond the crisis and toward a resolution.
Fertility counseling is not about labeling yourself “crazy” or treating your “mental illness” or making excuses for your emotions. Infertility is not a psychiatric disorder and its emotions, while sometimes severe in intensity, usually fall within the normal and expected range of responses to loss. The decision to talk to a professional right now is about improving your condition and taking care of yourself at what may be one of the most difficult junctures in your life.
How do I know?
I know because I have been a specialist in the field of reproductive medicine, adoption and family building since 1992, when I first began counseling individuals and couples in various stages of family building. I facilitate a range of support groups and workshops. I have trained with infertility pioneer Dr. Alice Domar and I lead a Ten-Week Mind-Body Program based on her research. I conduct evaluations with intended parents and candidates for egg donation, sperm donation and surrogacy.
I know because I have conducted research on the subject of coping with infertility. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the topic of “Gender Differences in Coping in Men and Women Undergoing IVF”.
I know because have written and presented extensively on the subject of infertility. I write an “Ask the Expert” column in the RESOLVE magazine. I have been a keynote speaker and a presenter at symposia, seminars and professional conferences and I have been interviewed on radio, television and in print. I have served on the Board of Directors of RESOLVE (the national infertility association) between 1993 and 2003.
Most importantly, I know because I have my own experience with infertility. After finishing my doctoral research, my husband and I discovered that we, too, were not able to conceive. We proceeded to undergo several years of treatment that, eventually, culminated in IVF. I learned, during those years, that neither academic nor clinical knowledge of infertility could prepare me for the actual emotional experience. Before and since, there has been little in my life as challenging, demanding and overwhelming as those years in fertility treatment.
These days, when I meet with people who are on the emotional roller coaster of family building, I speak with the knowledge of a therapist, a researcher and a RESOLVE activist. But more than anything, I speak with the compassion and the sympathy of someone who has known this brutal roller coaster first-hand. So, I know.
Counseling while you are struggling to conceive can help you:
- Cope with feelings of depression, anger and anxiety
- Deal with negative thoughts
- Resolve conflict with your partner and strengthen your relationship
- Prepare your mind and your body for critical medical procedures
- Improve your communication with people close to you
- Maintain control in situations that “push your buttons”
- Cope with the uncertainty and the waiting that accompany infertility
- Make decisions when you find yourself at a crossroads
- Build a strong support network for yourself
- Reclaim your body and your spirit