I know infertility. I survived it – and not because I reached my dreams of having children. There is so much to survive when you come up against infertility – and I survived all of it. It wasn’t easy, and often times it was a battle ground. My closest friends went through it – and so did my sister, and both of my sister in laws. There was one Thanksgiving that we all gave ourselves fertility injections. The level of anxiety at that table still is with me so many years later.
I know the damage that infertility can do to your entire being, and your relationships. So many parts of you may become collateral damage to your quest to have a child. My direct personal experience with infertility happened 20 years ago – and yet there are still parts of me that have just really finished healing. Yes – it really took that long. And it doesn’t have to anymore. There is so much more out there to support you on your journey. No longer do you have to walk in the snow for twenty miles barefoot to get help.
Today, infertility centers are much more aware of the land side of emotional side effects that infertility can bring to a couple. Sometimes, I think that IVF Centers should have a similar warning running in the waiting room as prescription medications on television advertisements! It should say something like this: “Side effects of your infertility may include: sadness, depression, feelings of alienation from members of your family, avoidance of social situations that include any family or social gathering that might include children or the possibility of a pregnant person, low libido and general lack of interest in sex except when ovulation occurs, a general sense of self loathing and feelings that your body has betrayed you, feeling of anger and distance between you and your life partner, depleted bank account, development of a insurance company mail phobia, compulsive overeating or food limiting, and the inability to experience joy in your everyday life”.
Actually that is a short list of possible side effects. So how do you remain in treatment long enough to have a child? How do you survive the emotional and financial shit storm that infertility can bring to your life? How do you stay healthy and whole through the trying to conceive process?
If I truly knew the answer to that I would be a very wealthy woman. The fact is that no one really knows what YOU will need to remain whole and undamaged during infertility and if you do get scars exactly what you will need to heal them. But I do have a tip – that you may have heard before – but I am going to say it again– because if you are anything like me – you have ignored any tips up until now. Drum roll please!
Surround Yourself With Support.
Got it? That’s it. If you want to make it through the infertility wild ride of the century and be a total basket case at the end – you had better come out of the infertility shame closet and build yourself a team of supporters. How can you do this?
Find yourself a support group – now this can take several forms. There are support groups on line, through message boards and chat communities that you can find at wonderful groups like Fertility Ties, Fertility Authority and Parents Via Egg Donation.
There are even telephone groups meeting these days through The American Fertility Association. There are also groups that meet through infertility support organizations such as RESOLVE. You can surround yourself with people who understand and will care. There are also Fertility Coaches available who can not only offer you one-on-one support, but guide you through the entire process. I am one – there are others. Ask your friends.
Think about starting a blog or journal. Writing your experience down can be amazingly healing. If you decide to blog you will also create a team of supporters of people that will read your story and offer love and caring.
Get Physical. Your body is not to blame for all of this. Don’t throw your body love out of the window during this process. This is a time to be so gentle with your body and to stay integrated. Think about joining a “Fertile Yoga” group near you. Many IVF centers have them - You can learn more about finding a “Fertile Yoga” program by visiting sites like Pulling Down the Moon or Brenda Strong’s Yoga 4 Fertility.
Don’t let YOU become collateral damage to infertility. Listen to wise women who have come before you – infertility is full of side effects – and one of them is losing yourself. Don’t. Get support – take action. Do something to support yourself during this journey today.