There’s no doubt that after the diagnosis of infertility kicks in, one of the hardest parts is processing the news and dealing with the emotional anguish. But you don’t – and shouldn’t – need to go it alone. There are many resources available to help you through your journey starting from the moment you are diagnosed.
First, Let Go of Blame and Fear
Recognize that a diagnosis of infertility is not your fault or your partner’s fault. Infertility is “a disease of the reproductive system” as defined by the World Health Organization, and just like any other disease, it does not discriminate; anyone can be affected.
Treatment is the first step, and there are plenty of options available. Finding the right practice, one where you feel comfortable and in good hands, is essential; you will likely be spending a lot of time there, and getting to know the clinicians well. Once you’ve chosen your fertility clinic, be sure to understand the science behind IVF and your treatment schedule. Ask questions, read books, and know what your path will be. Don’t put blinders on or fear it; understand it. Knowledge is power.
Find the Emotional Support You Need
Although you’ve taken action and have explored treatment options, you may still feel isolated after your diagnosis, and that you, alone, have somehow been singled out. But that’s not the case. Know that there are many couples out there going through the same journey. The statistics support this; one in eight couples struggles to conceive, but not everyone shares their stories. The stories we tend to see are those plastering Facebook and Instagram, the ones of our friends celebrating the birth of a new child, ushering their first born off to school, or enjoying a family get-away. Don’t be afraid to share your story with family and friends; you will find there are more similar to yours than not.
Find an infertility support group in your neighborhood, where you can share your feelings – the good, and the bad – in a non-judgmental space among a group of peers who can empathize. Resolve, the National Infertility Association (https://resolve.org/), is a great resource. You will be connected with an infertility support group in your area by simply entering your zip code. Carrie Van Steen, of Attain Fertility, says Resolve was a lifeline for her when going through her own IVF journey.
If there isn’t a local group already formed, approach your fertility provider and ask them to start one. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, and most of all, be an advocate for your emotional health. If you’re more of a private person and prefer not share in a group setting, seek the help of a trained psychologist or counselor. Remember that you have options, and that speaking honestly about your feelings during your journey will help you better navigate your way through it.
Without a doubt, a diagnosis of infertility is stressful, but it’s also an opportunity. An opportunity to be gentle with yourself, take time for yourself, and look after your health, which is something we all tend to ignore from time to time. Find and pursue the avenues that bring you the most relief from stress – exercise, acupuncture, massage, nature walks, meditation, artistic endeavors, wherever it is you find your peace.
Eating mindfully also helps. Healthful eating is not only good for you, it’s good for your fertility as well. Take this time to eat a Mediterranean-based diet with a lot of leafy greens, nuts, and fatty fish. Although you may be doing it to improve your chance of conception, chances are you’ll improve your overall physical and mental well-being, too.
Knowing that you’re doing all you can to take care of your emotional health during your IVF journey will put you in the control seat and fuel your reserves as you seek to fulfill your dreams of family.