There is a moment, after first hearing the word “infertile” used to describe you and your situation, when it feels as though you have been slapped across the face, kicked in the gut and pushed down to the ground. No matter how prepared you may have been for this news, having it actually confirmed is a viscerally painful experience that you won’t soon forget or recover from.
Recover you must, though; at least enough to begin working through your next steps. Take some time to grieve and allow yourself to cry, but once that initial mourning period has passed – you need to pick yourself up and figure out how to move forward. Doing so will always be easier said than done, but coping with an infertility diagnosis is possible as long as you know where to start.
Now is the time to build your cheerleaders around you. It doesn’t matter who those cheerleaders are, or how long they have even been a part of your life; all that counts is having a support system you can rely on. You will come to find that infertility is a difficult thing for some to discuss. There will be those in your life who will make insensitive comments and leave you feeling even more defeated than before, but there will also be others who will come forward and share personal struggles of their own that you never would have guessed. It is normal to feel isolated in the wake of your diagnosis, but that doesn’t have to be a fate you condemn yourself to for the remainder of your days. There are people who will understand, and finding them will be key to your coping ability.
Talk to the people closest to you in life. Lean on your spouse, friends and family as much as they will allow you to, and work to articulate your thoughts and feelings in whatever way feels the most comfortable to you. This can include tear-filled conversations over a glass of wine with a friend, or drawn-out journal entries penned in front of a fire with your partner by your side. The goal is to get it all out there, and to find the people you can trust with those raw and ragged emotions.
If no one in your life seems capable of filling that role, or if you simply need to feel as though you are talking to someone who truly understands, branch out beyond your inner circle. RESOLVE is a nationwide organization committed to uniting women and couples struggling with infertility. Search their website to see if there are any support groups offered in your area. The internet is also full of women with stories just like your own, so scour the web and look for blogs and forums built by women you can relate to.
You may eventually decide you need the help of a professional. If you find yourself struggling day after day with your grief over infertility, please don’t hesitate to take this next step. Finding someone who can help you to build coping mechanisms may be the best way to start feeling strong and healthy once more. That strength is something you will need as you attempt to determine your best options for fighting this new diagnosis and pursuing the path to parenthood that is right for you.
There is always a period of hopelessness which follows a diagnosis of infertility, but the situation is rarely ever as bleak as it may initially seem. Remember that there are options available to you, and paths to parenthood you may not have considered previously. Before you can make any of the decisions to come, however, you need to first take the steps to being your own advocate. That starts with educating yourself on details of your personal situation, as well as the possibilities available to you now that this diagnosis has been confirmed.
Doctors typically have your best interest at heart, but they aren’t always experts on every case which comes before them. Take some time to become an expert yourself on the condition which has led to your infertility diagnosis, and look into the treatment options available both through western and eastern medicine. Talk to other women and couples who have faced a similar diagnosis, and seek second and third opinions whenever you feel there may be more to the story than what your current doctor has been able to discover. There is power in knowledge, and arming yourself with information is sometimes one of the only ways to feel in control once more. Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions or to pursue paths meant to build on your own knowledge when it comes to infertility and the treatments possibilities available. This is your body, and you are entitled to every bit of information you can get your hands on.
Formulate a Plan
There is healing to be found in building a plan. Often this can take time, as the initial processing of grief makes it difficult to consider next steps, but once you are ready; focus on outlining the steps to come. Consider all the options available to you, and determine just how far you are willing to go in order to conceive. Draw lines for yourself in terms of the money you are willing to spend and the lengths you are willing to go to. These lines can be changed with time, but for now it is important that you and your spouse look at your situation from all angles and attempt to make some logical choices about moving forward.
Don’t Lose Yourself
It is entirely too common for those struggling to conceive to lose themselves in the process. Women especially seem to have a way of becoming so singularly focused in the fight for baby that they forget all about everything else that once mattered to them. Job performance can suffer and relationships can falter as a result. This is all very normal, but that doesn’t mean it is something you should simply accept and succumb to. Strive to maintain a healthy balance in your life; even as it seems achieving pregnancy may be the only thing that matters. Nurture your romantic relationship whenever possible, and shift your focus to other passions when the anguish of infertility starts to become too much.
Try to remember who you were before infertility. There was a person there who once had thoughts and feelings which extended beyond the overwhelming desire to become pregnant. Find her again, and remember to continue seeking her out whenever the darkness starts to take over. Facing infertility can be a long and painful road, but maintaining sight of who you were before this struggle and who you want to be after will help you to keep your head above water.
- Coping Techniques. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/Managing-Infertility-Stress/coping-techniques.html
- Therapists’ top tips for coping with fertility problems. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.babycenter.com/0_therapists-top-ten-tips-for-coping-with-fertility-problems_3935.bc
- Adrienne, H. (n.d.). “Letting-Go Coping” With Infertility. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fertile-ground/201101/letting-go-coping-infertility