Emotional Impact of Infertility - Phase Two
Perhaps one of the most intense situations to strike a couple is the realization that they are infertile. Myriad feelings surface and questions abound. It is a difficult time at first, and there may be some resistance to getting professional help. However, the secondary realization is that there is help available and a couple can dare to hope for a family.
It's Time to Get Professional Help
Once the shock and dismay of realizing that there is a fertility problem subsides, you begin to look for answers to your fertility problems. The period of time to be evaluated and diagnosed is a trying period as well - evasive, expensive and stressful - as you seek a solution to your situation. The decision to get professional help is huge and ensuring you are in the hands of a competent and helpful medical practitioner takes a considerable amount of stress away.
"What Did I Ever Do to Deserve This?"
When a couple reaches this point in their quest for answers, there are many emotions and reactions which may be experienced. Perhaps the first and most difficult for many couples is the sense of loss of control. Suddenly, you are no longer calling the shots and a doctor is captain of the ship. Your schedules are all rearranged to accommodate appointments and tests. The feeling of betrayal by your own body causes anger to rise and the imminent questions of, "Why Me?" and "What did I do to deserve this?" are asked internally over and over again.
"I Hate You"
A woman, particularly, may feel resentment toward other women who have had children or who have not experienced difficulty conceiving. Anger toward these women because they don't have to deal with the physical, emotional and financial stress she does, can become very troubling. Accompanying this can be a feeling of not being understood by friends or family who have children. Their well-meaning advice can cause resentment and hurt.
Is There Nothing Sacred Anymore?
Men often deal with the feelings of inadequacy, shame and embarrassment because they feel they have failed and that they are not functioning properly. A couple may lose their sense of sexuality and the fun and excitement of the sexual relationship may be reduced to form and function. Their private lives are now public domain as the doctors, technicians and other medical staff become privy to everything private. The sudden need to keep everything secret from friends and family increases the sense of isolation. Then, of course, there's the shock and often times relief, when a diagnosis is finally achieved.
Ways to Cope with This New Stress
To cope with the pressures of this phase of emotional stress, it is important to become as educated as possible about infertility. Again, communication is critical - talking openly about the fears and emotions helps both partners to be supportive and understanding of one another. You're going through this together. Equally important is "alone time" when you work through your own thoughts and feelings.
It is important to have as much support as possible during this time so joining support groups, sharing your problems with others who have been there, helps to reinforce the fact that you're not alone. Go to doctor's appointments together and take a list of questions and concerns with you when you go.
Stick Together, Communicate and Build Bridges
The testing and evaluation period can try a marriage extensively. It is difficult for both of you and by providing mutual support you can build bridges rather than dig valleys in your relationship.