3 Ways to Achieve Infertility Stress Relief
If you are coping with fertility issues, you know how stressful everyday encounters and special gatherings can be, especially when you face uncomfortable questions from family, friends and coworkers about having a baby. Knowing how to respond is difficult at best.
The emotions of infertility
While you may think you understand about the emotions of infertility, trying to get pregnant without success is probably one of the greatest roller-coasters you will ever experience.
From the constant poking, probing, and prodding during your fertility appointments; to late night hormone injections and early morning blood tests; to sore ovaries, ultrasounds and even exploratory surgery, some days it may feel that entire focus of your life is toward one goal: getting pregnant and having a healthy baby. It’s stressful.
Then when a long-awaited pregnancy test comes back negative, the stress levels can soar and your self-confidence plummet.
Add to this the emotional stress you feel daily, there are the innocent comments made in passing by co-workers, the probing questions of relatives, and the pregnancy of a sibling or close friend. Sometimes heading into social situations feels more like heading into a minefield than anything else.
If you find yourself feeling stress symptoms such as extreme emotional highs and lows, high anxiety, depression, or isolation, you are not alone.
Infertility is an extremely distressing life predicament that continues until you get pregnant and have a healthy baby. The long term inability to get pregnant can evoke significant feelings of loss. In fact, experts agree that few life experiences rank as high on stress scales as infertility.
Coping with the multitude of medical decisions and the uncertainties that infertility brings can create great emotional upheaval not to mention the strain on your family’s finances.
“Needs change at different points along the way, and even from day-to-day,” explains Dr. Andrea Braverman, clinical psychologist at the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, an Attain Fertility Center. “By identifying your triggers and then making choices, you’re able to create boundaries that work for you. Healthy communication with your partner and with the people in your life is essential.”
While there are no pat answers or general rules to follow, we have a few tips about how you and your partner can best handle the stress of infertility in social situations during your path to parenthood.
Step One: Identify your triggers.
While it’s impossible to anticipate every situation, there are certainly ones you can identify in advance that may leave you feeling vulnerable. Announcements of other pregnancies or births, baby showers, family gatherings, get-togethers with friends, and even staff vacation-time at your fertility clinic may trigger feelings of isolation or sadness. When you’re able to identify these triggers, you’ll be able to create a plan of action to manage them.
Step Two: Know what practical things you need to consider.
In an ideal world, you’d always be able to choose when and what you want to share. However, there are other practical issues to consider. You may need to let someone at work know you are going through fertility treatment if you have periods of time when you need to be late for work or when travel will not be possible.
Also, ask to have a confidential conversation with a supervisor and explain the situation. By being proactive and clear you will avoid uncomfortable questions and confrontations.
Likewise, there may be times when it’s necessary to share with a family member or friend. For example, if you have a relative living with you, it will probably be necessary to share some of what you are going through.
Step Three: What do you want for yourself? What do you want for your partner?
Remember, you are in a partnership. Trying to get pregnant isn’t just your story; it’s your partner’s story, as well.
Try to identify your boundaries as a couple. Determine as a couple how open or private you want to be with those around you and how you will respond to awkward questions.
And if the two of you are struggling, consider seeing a licensed counselor who can help you navigate the infertility journey in the healthiest and most positive way for you and your partner.
“You can’t do it all on your own, none of us can,” said Braverman. “The sooner individuals and couples seek counseling, the easier the emotional journey of trying to get pregnant will be.”
Reviewed by Dr. Andrea Braverman, clinical psychologist at the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New JerseySources