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Friday, April 30, 2010

Tips for TTC and Infertility

"Happy are those who dream dreams
and are ready to pay the price to make them come true."

Riding the Rollercoaster

When deciding to start (or extend) a family, everyone goes through a similar mix of emotions but at very different levels. Whether you are just starting on your journey or you feel as though you have been walking for days (months… years…), trying to conceive is like an amusement park filled with many highs and lows both emotionally and physically. For some they are mild and over with in the blink of an eye but for the majority they seem to be more moderate. But for countless couples, TTC becomes the biggest and scariest rollercoaster they have ever faced. Just when you feel as though you are on top of the world, life catches you off guard… after months of trying and planning, the diagnosis of infertility comes and you find yourself on top of a rollercoaster. You never thought for a second that this could happen to you and you are wondering how you got there. You can give up or you can strap yourself in and go along with the ride; down, through vertical drops, speeding tracks, and spiraling, jerky twists and turns fighting your fears and tackling anything that gets in your way.

At first, being told that you have fertility problems can sometimes make you feel as though you have hit a brick wall. You become a well of emotions. You are confused, angry, sad, and sometimes even ashamed. You can feel as though you are a failure. You start to pick at everything you do in your day to day life; I should eat better, exercise more, take more vitamins, drink more water, and on and on and on… but you are not necessarily to blame! Sure, there may be things you could have done in the past to help avoid reaching this point, but most times you probably would have hit the same brick wall in the end. It is hard not to let your emotions get the best of you, but the only thing you should be thinking about at this point is not what you COULD have done but rather what you SHOULD be doing now. Take charge.

Infertility and your Relationship(s)

Infertility can destroy many a relationship just as it can the individual(s) if those involved (directly and sometimes indirectly) are not mindful of the situation. Trying and failing month after month can take its toll on you; it can be extremely frustrating and confusing. There are a lot of medical terms to understand, appointments with invasive procedures, a schedule to follow, medications to adapt to, side effects, and emotions to contend with not to mention regular stresses of day to day life.

What do you do when your significant other is upset and/or crying? Are they really “ok” or should I be worried? Why isn’t (s)he speaking to me? Did I do something wrong? Why does (s)he always seem pissed off? Will we ever be happy again? Why is this happening? We don’t communicate anymore. We never go out together. We are drifting apart. Am I the only one who feels this way?

You will never say or do all of the right things at all of the right times but response and consequences may differ when piled emotions, stress, and other factors are added to the mix. Jealousy that one person has it so easy while the other suffers through treatment can also cause resentment. I firmly believe that anger and jealousy are two of the stronger emotions that can control and destroy a relationship (even between friends), and infertility is a definite source of both. Be careful. Don’t let them get to you!

2 heads are better than 1!

There is a day to day balancing act and sometimes you will inevitably fumble. Pick up the pieces and start again… together! I cannot stress TOGETHER enough. Communication and unity negates failure of a relationship. No matter who has the condition, the couple has the problem. You both need to be an active member in the process. Granted, women always seem to be more involved and have a library of information stored in their heads but men, you need to be involved too! She may want to tell you every little detail and you may experience a touch of information overload but it’s important to her. Try to be interested and receptive even if you only comprehend half of it. Together, it may even help you decipher and predict when things may be rocky ahead of time!

And, if all else fails, get help! Medical doctors are only treating the infertility, not the emotions that go along with it. Find someone who specializes in talk therapy (since anti-depressants are probably out of the question). Go together, as a couple. Support each other. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this in person, then seek some help online. You are not alone with these issues and you shouldn’t have to go through it alone either. There are people out there willing and ready to help. They may be a complete stranger but you can still cry together, support each other, laugh out loud, and hopefully you can celebrate together one day as well!