Infertility is a Battle, You Fight with Everything You Have and Then You Reach Acceptance
Infertility is an insidious enemy, it often attacks with no warning and leaves its victims perplexed, angry and sad. So how do you fight an enemy that can rob you of your self-esteem along with your thwarting your biological urge to reproduce? The simple answer is you throw everything you can at it, most people win this fight in the end, but it can be a long, hard fight. Also, always keep in the back of your mind that infertility doesn’t define you and however this battle ends you will survive to fight another day.
First: Define the Problem
As with any battle, the infertility battle has many stages to it, this isn’t a one-shot battle. There are many hurtles to get over on your way to victory. The first step in the battle of infertility is to define the problem so you can start looking at solutions. Most people start to worry about whether they can conceive without assistance after they’ve been trying to conceive naturally for about a year, possibly less if they’re over the age of 35. First stop for women is the OB/GYN who will take a history, possibly run some tests and suggest some procedures that don’t require a lot of testing or high-tech help, like Clomid® (an ovulation-stimulating drug) followed by an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). IUI is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. This can be done in an OB/GYNs office and is minimally invasive. It is done with the partner’s sperm that has been processed so there are more strong sperm swimming toward the fallopian tubes.
Time to Up Your Game
If the minimally invasive procedures don’t work it’s time to move up to the big guns, the Fertility Clinic and IVF. Before investing a lot of time and money in fertility services from a clinic make sure you check out not only their success record but also feedback from current and past patients. Infertility is a very emotionally charged subject and the hormones women take when undergoing IVF can also make them a lot more emotional. With this in mind, you should be looking for a clinic where the staff seem like people you want to spend time with since you will be seeing a lot of them. These are going to be the soldiers in the trenches with you, so you need to trust them.
Four Stages of Grief for Dealing with Infertility
As you go through the battle of IVF, and possibly escalate to using donor eggs and/or a surrogate mother, keep in mind that there are four stages of grief for dealing with infertility. Even if the infertility treatment works early in your treatment cycle you may still experience these stages, so you need to remember to experience them, absorb the lesson then move on. The stages are:
Stage 1: Denial and Isolation. Most people when confronted by infertility don’t believe it at first, they believe it just takes a little more work on their part or a medical procedure and everything will be normal. During this time people tend to isolate themselves from people they know with young children because it’s a reminder of what they can’t do.
Stage 2: Anger. During stage 2 people going through infertility treatment are angry at the situation as well as themselves and people around them. When your body is failing you, especially if the problem is called “unexplained infertility,” it’s easy to be angry but hard to know exactly where to place the anger so the tendency is to spread it around. You’re angry at your body, your partner, God, the doctor, the infertility treatment that didn’t work, adoption agency rules and policies, people who have babies easily, and the list goes on.
Stage 3: Depression. The depression can be caused by feeling of guilt over things done in the past, like an abortion or using birth control for a long period of time. Or simply not being sure you wanted children at an earlier time in your life. It’s easy to feel like infertility is a punishment and this is an especially easy assumption to make when depression has already set in.
Stage 4: Acceptance. This is where the person accepts the infertility and can talk about it and process it, especially with their partner.
Infertility Doesn’t Define You
Once you’ve reached the acceptance stage you have won the battle because you are accepting things as they are, whether it’s the outcome you had hoped for or not. This is the time in the battle that you assess your situation and decide what’s next. If you haven’t tried every option the fertility center has to offer, do you want to try everything? What is enough? If you have tried it all, what’s next? There’s always a next, infertility doesn’t define you and shouldn’t consume your life indefinitely. The infertility war is over when you can make peace with the outcome and with yourself, you’ve gone through an intense battle, both physical and mental, and have come out stronger and at peace.