A Woman's Pain
It Can't Be!
The emotional impact of discovering that infertility is part of your life can leave you reeling. Suddenly everything changes and hopes seem dashed as you try to come to grips with it. Questions, fears, and blame run rampant in the mind as you assess your reality. Is it me? Is it you? What did we do wrong? Why is this happening? IS this really happening? And, the questions come faster than the answers...
Finally, The Emotional Impact Is Acknowledged
Much has been written about the physiological impact of infertility on women and how best to deal with it. Research is now focusing more attention on the psychological stress that accompanies infertility. What researchers have discovered is that the mental and emotional stress of infertility on a woman is similar to that of women coping with cancer, HIV, or chronic pain. Add to this stress the comments made by family and friends that your anxiety is causing your infertility. Contrary to what was once believed, research now indicates stress does not cause infertility.
Plumbing The Depths Of Pain
It is easy to feel overwhelmed in the sea of emotions that accompany infertility. Many women wonder if they have "gone off the edge" because of the things they are feeling. Perhaps knowing that many of the emotions you feel are legitimate and normal will help you to embrace your feelings and grieve. Grieving is an important part of the process and once grief is expressed you are in a much better place to be able to look at your situation, assess it clearly, and make plans for the future.
The first and most obvious feeling you may encounter is one of profound loss. Loss for the child or children you dreamt about having one day. You may also feel that you have lost out on parenthood or on the opportunity to have a biological child of your own. Often the feeling of loss will move to anger and you may be angry at life in general-for all the bad things that have happened in the past and present. Anger may also be aimed at others who are able to conceive and carry a baby while you are not. You have been robbed and that can make you feel very angry.
In the steps of the grieving process, denial is next. Somehow, the information you received cannot be right. You want to believe everything will be okay next month and you will have a positive pregnancy test. Then, when the test is not positive, shock and a profound sadness overwhelm you. Some women experience shame in all of this. They feel that being infertile makes them less of a woman or less feminine. Men who are infertile may feel less masculine. You may also feel that you are less of a person because you cannot have a child without assistance. Finally, the sense of being out of control, knowing there is nothing you can do on your own to change things may leave you feeling powerless.
If You Need Help, Ask For It
All of these emotions are valid and it is wise to give yourself permission to feel them and experience them. It is all part of the healing process. If you need help navigating through the emotional quagmire of infertility, seek professional help through your physician.
Infertility is not easy-but it is not terminal either.