One of the horrors of the fertility challenge is the build-up of tension in the very place where serenity is palliative, namely between the couple. Most couples pull together really well and in the end discover their qualifications to deal with adversity. Yet, the fact that the journey can take a long time to resolve, [...]
Reframing is about deciding to look at our thoughts from a different perspective. When it comes to infertility, the act of reframing is a skill worth cultivating. Keep reading to find out why. As a rule, thinking negatively is part of the human condition. Because caveman presumed that the twig that snapped was a saber [...]
When I first went into practice in 1979 as a psychotherapist serving infertility patients, the scuttlebutt was that any inability to conceive for which there wasn’t an explanation meant that research hadn’t yet clarified the person’s specific problem. Today, much has been clarified and medical experts believe that if a correct diagnosis could be guaranteed, the number of those labeled “undiagnosed” would be very small indeed, rather than the 10% to 30% or more (depending upon whose statistics you look at) who fall in this category now.
When I first began to run mind/body support groups for women struggling with infertility, I included a segment on humor. A few colleagues thought I was nuts, reminding me that there is nothing funny about infertility as if I didn't know. Humor as an important coping mechanism has remained part of my program since the beginning. We need to laugh, perhaps never more than when we're dealing with adversity.
The advice to set rules makes sense. But as a therapist, when I work with people I like to frame things so that you can feel successful. It you think it is easy to set rules and then you and your partner get tangled up in issues that are attached here, you’ll only wind up feeling worse. It makes more sense to see the “whom-do-we-tell” issue as being attached to many things that you might need some professional help unraveling.
Evidence-based research is both useful and not helpful when it comes to infertility. It is inspirational when you realize that if, as the research has shown, you can rid yourself of migraines with biofeedback by using your mind to control your temperature, it is only a short distance from there to realizing that you may not be helpless when it comes to influencing your fertility. (Of course this would only have merit if there weren’t structural abnormalities.) Feeling helpless will certainly contribute to stress.
Miscarriage is a loss which has no official ceremonial protocol attached to it. Ken had it right because he and his wife created their own ritual when they planted a bulb in their yard, and took the time to honor and metabolize their feelings of loss. The symbolism is obvious and perfect.
This entry is very simple. It is just meant to call your attention to what might be a more panoramic view of stress than you might currently be aware of. Consider my “3 A’s” approach to coping with stress: If you ACCEPT the reality, if you become more self-AWARE, and if you learn ways to ADAPT to the infertility experience, you can shift from feeling vanquished to feeling victorious.
Women who are hovering around the age of 40 find the statistics that report the diminished chances of pregnancy at that age to be a real sore spot. Medical specialists feel a certain obligation to put forth the glum statistics and offer the option of donor eggs without considering the readiness of the patient. This position is not illogical from the medical point of view. The trouble is, it is unhelpful to women who want to give themselves a chance – not only to achieve a pregnancy, but to do it with their own eggs. Women resent being told that they’re too old when they feel in the prime of their lives. And this medical position also raises levels of anxiety and depression which intensifies mind/body tension which can work at cross-purposes when you want to maintain physical and emotional receptivity to a pregnancy.
Impatience is virtually universal when our deepest longings are thwarted. And longing for a baby generates a particular agony because of the extended period of time that it can take until the baby quest is resolved. The following is a lovely story, synopsized from the book Stories for the Third Ear by Lee Wallace. This little metaphor may serve to settle the pressure that you may be putting on yourself in an attempt to barge through to parenthood.
The frenzy of infertility drains energy. But many apply mental muscle to fight the good fight, which under the circumstances can feel like a car in overdrive with the emergency brake yanked up. While applying mental muscle as a coping mechanism to push through the challenge can be effective, diving under the turbulence renews energy and builds resilience.