Feel Like Giving Up? Infertility Counseling Tips

Feel Like Giving Up? Infertility Counseling Tips Feel Like Giving Up? Infertility Counseling Tips

Does your heart ache at the sight of a newborn baby cradled in her mother's arms? Does your biological clock seem to be ticking louder by the day? Do you tense up when you think about starting another fertility treatment? You tell yourself to keep trying and be patient, but you feel like giving up. You are not alone. When unable to conceive after many months of trying, it is normal and expected to feel burned out by infertility. 

Find hope when feeling helpless
The Attain Fertility Health Desk interviewed Dr. Marie Davidson, clinical psychologist with the Fertility Centers of Illinois, to get her advice on coping with infertility stress. Dr. Davidson has been counseling infertile couples for 20 years. She encourages her patients to draw "a virtual road map to parenthood" when feeling overwhelmed by infertility. You, too, can use this empowering map to develop an action plan when it feels like infertility has gotten the best of you. Here's how to get started:

  1. Sit down with your partner and envision all the various possibilities that you are considering as you try to conceive. Some options that you may be open to include fertility drugs, IUI, IVF, donor eggs and sperm, holistic methods, and adoption.
  2. On a piece of paper, map these possibilities as different routes on your map. Draw each route in pencil in case you want to edit the map later, or draw new maps as time goes on and your infertility journey changes.
  3. Include a "travel budget" to parenthood, setting financial limits for each stop along the way.
  4. Add a timeframe to each route as you draw. For example, how much time are you willing to put into IUI before moving on to the next option? How many IVF cycles can you realistically afford?
  5. Make sure to draw in rest stops along the way - it is important to allow time for relaxation.
  6. As time goes on, you can update your map with important milestones, including notable diagnostic tests and successful (or failed) treatments. 
  7. You may even choose to write in the names of favorite doctors, nurses, and fertility clinic staff that made a difference in your journey. Or add in the names of friends and family that helped you along the way. As Dr. Davidson states, "No one has to (or even can) deal with infertility alone."

When you feel burned out by infertility, pull out your parenthood road map and remind yourself of how far you've come and the flexible options that remain available to you.

This too shall pass
It may seem impossible now, but you will resolve your fertility journey one day. You may find yourself pregnant or decide to stop trying. Until this time comes, you can find peace of mind by accepting that fertility is often out of your control. Dr. Davidson advises her patients to accept whatever each day brings, without struggling against it. She says, "This acceptance can be a very powerful coping tool when going through infertility." You may become pregnant, adopt, use a surrogate, or ultimately choose childfree living. Whatever your future holds, this is your reality now. Accept this reality and find peace with your journey.

Reviewed July 2011 by Psychologist Dr. Marie Davidson at the Fertility Centers of Illinois.