Infertility Counseling Series Part 2 of 4: So I’m Infertile. Now What?
An Infertility Therapist's Top 5 Recommendations for How To Take Your Next Step
You are working on accepting that building your family is not happening the way you originally planned. This is incredibly difficult to do, and while you have good days and bad days overall the goal is to stop crying on the bathroom floor and move forward. It seems time to make a decision but every option is so daunting. You ask yourself- “Do I have to be on board with IVF if I make an appointment with a fertility clinic?” “Am I equipped to adopt a baby with special needs?” “Do I need to cash in my savings, head to Vegas, bet it all on black and hope I get lucky because otherwise there is no way in hell I can ever afford to pay for any treatment option?!”... Before heading down the fertility rabbit hole take a breath and try these suggestions:
Don’t make a decision for X period of time:
Sounds crazy but it really helps relieve some pressure. And once a little pressure is lifted then you can begin to make decisions based out of curiosity, not panic and fear. Take a month off from making an appointment, tracking your ovulation, starting medication etc. Use this off period as a time to reconnect with yourself and your relationship.
One step at a time:
If you do know the direction you are heading that is awesome! Now the goal shifts from making a decision to focusing and planning the next step, not the next twelve steps.
Try this- “I am going to make an appointment with this specific fertility clinic.”
Not this- “I’m going to make an appointment with this fertility clinic, and I know they will say we have to do IVF, so I’ll do testing for a few months, do my egg retrieval in June, we have that wedding to go to in July so I’ll do the embryo transfer in August which means I will have the baby in May which is perfect because who wants to be pregnant over the summer?!”
It is very unlikely that this plan will happen exactly this way. Look into mindfulness or guided relaxation exercises if your mind keeps running away from you. I like the app Headspace but there are a ton out there.
Think of this as information gathering time. You are in research mode and don’t need to have all your moves plotted out. Write down questions, make pro/con lists, research specific questions from reputable sources.
This is awful. It is overwhelming and isolating, and you are probably thinking about it all… the… time… Don’t keep those feelings inside. Share them with your partner. If your partner needs a break or is at a place emotionally where they are struggling to support you, share your feelings with a trusted family member or friend. Another option is to write them down. Don’t censor yourself, or try to put a positive spin on it. Give yourself permission to write down every angry, depressed, “why me?” thought you are having. Notice how much lighter you feel after this release.
Don’t judge yourself:
You are not your thoughts and feelings. They are not THE TRUTH. They might be icky, mean or uncomfortable, but they are just thoughts and feelings. Be kind to yourself. If your best friend was struggling to have a baby what would you say to them? Now, practice saying that to yourself. If it helps, write those sensitive and comforting words on a post-it note and put it on your mirror to remind yourself that you too can be a healthy support person during this journey.
If you are struggling to function during this time period it is completely understandable and I hope that you will consider counseling. There are many qualified and caring professionals out there to help support you. If you are unsure if counseling would be helpful check out Part 3 in the Infertility Counseling Blog Series “What Is Infertility Counseling and Do I Need It?”
Interested in learning more? Please reach out on the contact form on my website. You can also ask your doctor for mental health counselor recommendations.
Wishing you peace, self compassion and good mental health!