Dr Joyce Friedeman is an infertility counselor and a psychiatric nurse. She holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology. She counsels infertile patients in her private practice and at GCIRH.
Infertility and its treatment generate a great deal of stress for the couple. Most women grow up expecting that they will be able to become mothers. Many men also hope to father and expect that this will complete their marriage experience. When this dream is shattered for the couple, there are common emotional experiences.
It is important to understand that infertility presents itself as a crisis within the marriage. Recognizing and dealing with the emotional aspects of this crisis is of the utmost importance.
Dr. Friedeman suggests the following measures to help you survive treatment:
- Don't blame yourself. Infertility is due to a medical problem that no one can anticipate or control.
- Do your best to educate yourself and take charge of your care. Talk to your doctors and nurses and make sure your concerns are heard.
- Remember to be especially caring toward yourself and your partner during therapy. Keep in mind that you both may be more irritable than usual. Husbands need to understand that wives tend to be more intense and tearful than is typical.
- Try to reduce stress during treatment. Taking a walk, going to a movie, reducing work, and getting a massage are examples.
- Be stingy with your personal time. Demands from family and friends as well as household chores can wait. Instead try to spend quality time with your partner. Share activities that in the past have been fun for the two of you.
- Give expression to your feelings. We have voices for a reason. The best thing we can do for our mental health is to express our feelings to an empathic nonjudgmental ear. Take time to talk with supportive friends and family.
- Join a support group either through Resolve or your doctor's office. We recommend a support group for many reasons including: information sharing, problem solving, empathy and camaraderie.
- Try to be optimistic but at the same time realistic. Talk openly with your doctor about your ultimate chances of success and how long it will typically take.
- Avoid activities that focus on babies. These tend to be particularly painful. Baby showers and visiting infants in the hospital are examples. There is no need to subject yourself to additional stress.
- Don't hesitate to seek professional counseling if you feel that you could use an objective perspective on your grieving. Many couples seek and benefit from the help of a professional counselor.
Dr Friedeman's books: "How to Become Your Own Best Infertility Counselor" and "Building Your Family Through Egg Donation" are available through http://www.amazon.com