We understand that what you're going through can be stressful and scary. You likely have many unanswered questions and you may feel a sense of being out of your control. We're here to help. One of the things that couples who have gone before you have said is most helpful is to become educated and connected. At Shady Grove Fertility, we have a multitude of resources designed to offer you hope and solutions for healthy coping.
Consider the following coping strategies:
1. Acknowledge the potential impact infertility can have on your emotions.
It's quite common for infertility to evoke feelings of anxiety, which can include overwhelming stress, fear, dizziness, heart palpitations, constant worrying, feeling out of control, chest pain, and difficulty functioning, to name a few.
2. Acknowledge that infertility can affect your relationships.
There is no doubt that infertility can take a tremendous toll on you emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. Disappointment and doubt can leave you feeling discouraged, even depressed. Infertility can put a strain on everything, not just your pursuit to conceive, so it's important to reach out for professional help.
3. Take time to educate yourself.
Take the time to educate yourself about your options. Be proactive and write down your questions in advance of your appointments with your physician in order to make the most of your time with him or her. Speak up and don't be afraid to ask what you don't know or don't understand. Your physician and entire healthcare team is on your side to ease your concerns and address your questions.
4. Take time to take care of yourself.
In the midst of this crisis, it's critical that you take time for yourself, sleep well, eat well, and get the appropriate amount of physical activity. Find ways to de-stress, even indulge, whether that means taking an art class, going on a walk, meeting friends for an outing, or buying a new pair of shoes.
5. Don't avoid the difficult conversations.
Be mindful of the importance of communication, even when the conversation topic is difficult. Health communication is open, honest, and feels safe. It's not blaming or hurtful. Lean on your partner for support and refuge. Also, before you embark, agree to set limits. Make sure you and your partner are on the same page regarding limits and expectations. It can be incredibly disappointing to find out down the road that you two are not on the same page. Be proactive.
6. Find a balance that works for you.
Talk with your physician about what's realistic vs optimistic regarding your personal situation and plan accordingly.
7. Don't be afraid to place limits.
It's ok to turn down the third baby shower invitation this month alone. And it's ok to respectfully decline the girls' outing if everyone attending except you will be bringing their newborns. However, know the signs of isolation and how to overcome. Be sure to make connections with other women and couples who are going through what you're going through and learn to lean on one another for support.
8. Know the warning signs of depression and act on them if they surface.
If you are experiencing any of the following signs of depression, it's important to seek help right away:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty thinking about anything other than infertility or loss
- Thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness
9. Take advantage of the resources available to you.
Caring for your emotional well-being is as important to us as treating your infertility and we understand that each person and couple’s experience and needs are different. That is why we have several, varied support resources integrated into the fertility program at Shady Grove Fertility. Our patients, both male and female, have found professional individual or couples' counseling and attending our free support groups available throughout the region to be particularly helpful:
- Following a pregnancy loss
- Following a treatment cycle(s) that was unsuccessful
- When considering third-party reproduction, such as using donor eggs, donor sperm, and/or a gestational carrier
- When considering transitioning from one treatment to another or when considering discontinuing treatment altogether
- When financial, emotional, physical, or relationship obstacles seem to be insurmountable
- At the start of any feelings of isolation or depression
- If the coping strategies they once found to be helpful no longer seem to be working
Our goal at Shady Grove Fertility is to provide resources and support to reduce the stress associated with the infertility journey from a medical, emotional, and financial perspective. We encourage you to establish support networks by tapping into our resources or finding other avenues that work best for you. Seeking (and accepting) support is like weaving a safety net for yourself; the more connections or stands of support you have the stronger your net becomes. A strong support network lifts us up when we get low and provides the strength we need to keep moving forward in the direction of our dreams.