Grief is not a word people often think of when discussing baby making. But according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 1 in 8 couples of childbearing age are infertile. So you see, grief is the word that is often used in my psychotherapy practice.
Historically girls grow up with a tendency of nurture. Look at the toys they play with: cabbage-patch kid, dolls, Barbie, etc. Little girls love to cradle their baby-doll, feed it, change its diapers, and put the baby in its play-stroller.
When this girl grows up to be a woman, she still has the same dream. She dreams of being pregnant, feeling the baby kick inside of her, excited about the moment she will lay eyes for the first time on the child and looking forward to all the experiences she will have as a mother.
When that natural-right is taken away from her, she feels a swarm of emotions. Why? Why me?
Upon seeking medical assistance, this woman is faced with a battery of tests to allow the doctors to identify what is preventing her from bearing a child. Sometimes it is because she is unable to get pregnant while at other times it is because she is unable to carry pregnancy to full term. Grief is experienced in different ways through these multiple stages. I am not sure what is most painful, the inability to get pregnant or the multitude of miscarriages. Either way, the process is excruciating.
Infertility feels very lonely. It is usually the husband and wife who are each other’s support system. However, they are each grieving on their own time, and often times they are in different stages from each other.
If the couple is dealing with male factor infertility, the husband has even a heavier assignment in his support role. More often than not, the wife is looking for her husband to be her rock, to support her through this phase of their life. On the other hand, the husband sees his role is to make his wife feel better and fix the problem. And when the fertility issue is a male factor, fixing the problem becomes more difficult.
Either way, female or male factor, dealing with infertility is no different than it is to deal with any loss. The couple has to go through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Grieving should not be done alone. It is essential to find a support system, and recognizing that relying on each other sometimes is just not enough. If you are dealing with fertility challenges, finding a support system can seem daunting. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Ask your Doctor or Reproductive Endocrinologist for a referral to a Therapist.
- Ask your RE Clinic if they hold a Support Group or know of any.
- Review RESOLVE.ORG website for local support groups, reading material and teleseminars.
- Reach out to me for referral and consultation at (650) 539-9662 or [email protected]