How to cope emotionally with fertility treatment
The Harley Street Fertility Clinic's Counsellor Dani Singer has put together a guide to support and advise on how to cope emotionally with fertility treatment.
Finding out your only way to conceive a baby will be fertility treatment is enough to cause strain in even the strongest relationships. And yet, some couples emerge from the challenge of fertility treatment even stronger than before.
Talk to each other
It may be a cliché, but good communication is the key to a strong relationship. No one will know better than your partner what you are going through, so keeping them in the loop of how you're feeling is crucial, it's also highly likely that they're feeling the same way too. So, don't distance yourselves from one another but talk to each other in a way that is non-critical and non-judgemental. Communication is vital throughout the whole process - don't stop sharing your thoughts and concerns if things are not going the way you had hoped.
It's normal at times to feel slightly stressed, sad or even overwhelmed during the fertility process. Don't chastise yourselves or one another for feeling this way. Facing and accepting your emotions can help you move beyond them. One or both partners may blame the other for their infertility issues and this in turn can cause problems. Try working together as a team instead of being on opposite sides - help each other through this time. By taking care of each other emotionally, you can work through most problems.
There is power in knowledge. Many patients can feel a sense of powerlessness during treatment, educating yourselves on aspects of the process can help you feel and regain control. Read-up beforehand and ask questions to your medical team. Make sure that you both know as much as each-other and do not leave one partner in the dark. Both of you need to know what is happening medically in order to make informed decisions. Consult with your doctor or former patients to educate yourselves on the process you are going through. The more you both know and understand, the less stress you are both likely to feel.
Every couple is different. Some decide together on an endpoint to treatment seeking to have a baby, whereas others spend time and money exploring their options. You'll feel better and more in control if you set your limits in advance regarding what measures you are prepared to take. It is easy to know how you will feel if treatment is successful and you become pregnant. However, you must also understand that if you are unsuccessful in achieving a pregnancy, you cannot get away from the sadness, loss, and disappointment that you will feel. Think about the number of cycles you are willing or able to do, and how much time and money you are willing and able to invest. Sit down with each other and develop a financial plan to allay any monetary concerns.
Don't let it be all consuming
Being treated for fertility can sometimes feel like a full time job, so it's important to make sure you're still taking time out to do the other activities that you love and perhaps even brought you together in the first place. So, don't neglect hobbies that bring you and your partner pleasure. This will also help to take your mind off the treatment. Spending time with your partner will remind yourselves on why you're together. As time goes by, couples can start to lose hope, and this feeling can be all-consuming. Try planning a 'date night' once a week and make an effort to talk about different things.
Agree who you'd like to tell
Telling friends and family may act as support for some people, whereas others may feel it puts them under more pressure. Make sure that both you and your partner are happy with who knows what and when. Decide in advance who you will tell about your procedures and identify key friends and family who will provide you with the support you need whether before, during or after treatment.
Discuss your options
It best to avoid as much stress as possible in other areas of your life. Important decisions, such as a house move or a new job, may need to be put on hold or settled first to avoid additional stress. You both need to be aware, and most of all, happy with this at the start of your journey.
Prepare for decision making
It's important to anticipate decisions that are likely to arise during your treatment and it may be easier for you and your partner if these are made ahead of time. Consider the implications and have a plan if fertility treatment doesn't work out.
Whilst heartbreak and sadness may be unavoidable, it will be easier knowing that you and your partner feel the same way although you may express these differently.