When a woman or couple together decides that they want to have a child, they look forward to that child with anticipation. Each time you miss a period, you hope beyond hope that that means you are pregnant and that you will have that child you’ve wanted on the way. You go to the store to buy a pregnancy test and eagerly await the results. Unfortunately, those results come back negative. You may wonder what went wrong. After consistently getting negative results you may even wonder what's the matter with you. You go to the doctor, and you may decide to spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. You go through a huge amount of stress trying to have a child. Sometimes seeking support from friends and family can be helpful while others find it helpful to seek professional help from a counselor to be more useful.
But, this is Medical. Why should I see a counselor? You are right that infertility is primarily a physical and medical issue. Because of the medical aspect of infertility, you may experience unhelpful comments and huge medical bills bringing about financial stresses. This can all be very taxing affecting your emotional well-being, relationships, and thoughts and feelings. Below I will sometimes discuss where you might find it helpful to speak with a counselor.
Thoughts and Feelings of Guilt. You may have thoughts and feelings of guilt. You may have at one time became pregnant where you may have been too young or weren’t ready yet to become a mother and chose to have an abortion. You may have elected to wait to have children to focus on school, career, or to find the right person to have a child with. Neither of these choices is wrong though some may have thoughts of being punished for these options. These thoughts can affect your feelings, and you may experience feelings similar to depression. Speaking with a counselor or therapist, you can tell about your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Your therapist can also help you learn new ways of looking at these choices without shame or guilt.
Feelings and Emotions are becoming Unmanageable. You may be feeling a wide range of feelings or emotions while you are struggling with infertility. You may feel a broad range of emotions including anger, longing, sadness, guilt, or shame. You may even experience all of these feelings all at once. A therapist can provide you with the time and space for you to talk about these feelings without judgment or without being told to “get over” these emotions. Friends and family are capable of providing emotional support, but your therapist is capable of providing unconditional support.
Relational Difficulties with Your Partner. The stressors particularly the financial stressors of infertility can bring about difficulties in your relationship with your spouse. Speaking with a therapist allows you to learn new ways to communicate with your partner. You may even find it beneficial to seek therapy with your partner to gain support in building a healthy relationship during this time.
Seeing a therapist is not for those who are “crazy.” You can gain support in a warm, non-judgmental environment. You are free to experience your feelings and emotions in your own time without pressure to “get over it” or to “stop feeling.”
So, if you are reading this blog post right now, you have probably just found out that your friend, sister, cousin or someone else you care about is pregnant. You may be feeling a range of feelings and emotions right now which are all expected and common. Deep down you may be happy for her and her news while at the same time jealous and envious towards her. After all, you have been trying to get pregnant but for one reason or another are struggling to do so. It is ok to have and feel these differing and conflicting emotions towards your friend's pregnancy. As these feelings and reactions can be painful, you may be wondering how you can cope with the news that your friend will be having a baby. This post will present five ways you can cope and be true to yourself during this time.
1. Allow Yourself to Have Feelings
You are allowed to feel upset, angry, jealous, envious, or even happy for this news. It is even okay to feel all of these emotions all at the same time. Give yourself time to have and feel your emotions. You matter and how you feel matters! There are no right or wrong emotions when you find out your friend is pregnant. Give yourself time to be true to yourself and have these feelings. Family, friends, or co-workers may tell you that you are overly sensitive or that you are not being a good friend but don't let this get to you. You deserve to throw yourself a "pity party" at least for a time. It is okay if you need to go into a bathroom or your room and cry. These feelings only become unmanageable when you begin to ignore your daily responsibilities and start to ignore all of your other relationships.
2. Communicate Your Feelings and Needs
Speak with your friends and family and let them know how you are feeling and what you need. If you need some space from your friend who is pregnant, let her know that you still love and care about her, but you just need some space at this time to be by yourself. If your friends and family are talking about nothing but the upcoming baby, let them know that you need to talk about something else to get your mind off of the baby that you are not having. They may push back and tell you that you are "too sensitive" or that you "should be happy" for your friend. Don't let this bother you and stick your boundary of which conversations you will or will not participate in.
3. Set Boundaries
Set and keep boundaries. Let your friends and family know what you will be able to participate in and what you will not be able to do. If you need space, then give yourself some space. If you are not able to go to your friend's baby, then let your friends and family know that you still care about them, but you just can't be part of all of the festivities at this time. You may get backlash for this, but it is okay to keep to your boundaries. Your friends and family may be well meaning in wanting you to be there and celebrate with them thinking that this will "give you hope" or that this will "take your mind off of" your struggles with infertility.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Remember to take the time to take care of yourself. Go out and get a message, a Mani/Pedi, cuddle with your beloved pet, or go away for the weekend. Do whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself. You deserve it! You may be struggling right now but deserve to treat yourself to all of the niceties of life.
5. Get Support
Getting support during this time is important. Talk to friends who understand what you are going through (maybe they are also struggling with infertility). Find a support network such as a support group for other women who are struggling with infertility. This support group could be an in-person support lead by either a professional or a peer; the support group could also be web or phone based. You could also seek out counseling to help you cope. A therapist or counselor is not just a person you go to if you are "crazy." A therapist or counselor is there to listen and support in a way that friends and family are often not able to. Your therapist will be able to be there emotionally with you in such a way that others are not able to. Your therapist will be non-judgmental and be able to give you the time that is just for you.
The most important thing to remember during this time is that you do matter! Your friend may be upset when you set boundaries or when you distance yourself but those are her feelings, and you are not responsible for the feelings or reactions of others when you are taking care of yourself.