COUNSELING FOR INFERTILITY AND LOSS
"Because I always felt motherhood as such a strong part of my identity, it never occurred to me to
be concerned about how it was going to happen."
ARE YOU AT YOUR WITS END TRYING TO GET PREGNANT?
Do you feel like the quest to get pregnant is consuming your life?
Feel ashamed or embarrassed because you are not able to get pregnant?
Have you experienced the devastating loss of a pregnancy, stillbirth, or infant death?
Do you find yourself resenting your friends who are pregnant or who have children?
Can't manage to find the energy to go to another baby shower or family holiday event?
Is infertility placing a strain on your relationship, making intimacy feel scheduled or almost gone completely?
Do you feel a deep sense of loss or sadness?
Can’t bear the thought of another person asking you when you are going to start a family? Or have another child?
If you are experiencing infertility, the loss of a pregnancy or infant or have had a stillbirth, you probably feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster and just want to get off. Depression and anxiety are experienced by many women as they navigate this unplanned journey. It is a complicated road, with many twists and turns and can be lonely and overwhelming to walk through alone.
Infertility impacts 6.1 million couples in the United States (approximately 10-12% of couples of childbearing age). More recent studies also signal a potential rise in infertility rates to as high as 15% of couples trying to conceive, or 1 in 6 couples. You may feel very isolated and alone during this time but literally millions of other couples are or have been in a similar position as you. Infertility is devastating and often is more than just not being able to get pregnant, but rather getting pregnant, getting excited to finally be pregnant only to learn a few weeks later that you have experienced a miscarriage/pregnancy loss. Infertility takes many couples on an emotional roller coaster while trying to start or grow a family.
Pregnancy loss, or miscarriage, impacts anywhere from 10-20% of known pregnancies. The experience can be very traumatic and many women blame the loss of the pregnancy on something they did or did not do when the reality is that the fetus was simply not developing normally.
FOR MANY, THE DESIRE TO START A FAMILY IS CLOUDED WITH ANXIETY AND GRIEF.
Stillbirth effects about 1% of pregnancies or 24,000 babies per year. And infant mortality rates in the USA are approximately 6 deaths per 1,000 births (or less than 1%). The emotional experience of delivering a baby who is not alive or of losing a newborn baby elicits a grief reaction comparable to that of other types of bereavement. What was meant to be a special and memorable event turns tragic, leaving the parents to reconcile the emotions surrounding birth and death simultaneously.
While the experiences of infertility, pregnancy loss, stillbirth and infant loss are distinctly different, they are similar in that many find their outlooks are fundamentally changed. Depression, anxiety and increased levels of stress are commonly known to be associated with each. Many feel isolated and alone in their experiences and do not feel their closest friends or family are able to relate or offer solace. For some, their strongest relationship with their partner also becomes strained as each processes their grief in their own way. No one sets out to start a family thinking they will experience infertility or be thrust into the grieving process.
COUNSELING CAN HELP YOU DURING YOUR QUEST TO START A FAMILY.
Psychotherapy is often chosen as the treatment of choice when trying to conceive because of the desire to feel better without taking medication. Not being able to conceive is stressful, lonely and depressing. And if you have experienced a pregnancy loss or stillbirth, future pregnancies may be wrought with worry and fear instead of joy and excitement. You can easily fall into an emotional tail spin and not know how to get back up. Studies have shown that trying to conceive (TTC) is as emotionally demanding as dealing with a chronic or terminal illness like cancer. Feeling depressed and anxious as a result is a normal response. But you don’t have to remain depressed and anxious. Research indicates that psychotherapy decreases stress and mood symptoms of depression and anxiety while also having a positive impact on fertility rates.
In our work together, you will find unconditional support that validates and supports you wherever you are in your journey to grow your family. So often I hear in session that the process is so lonely and no one understands what it is like. Well-meaning friends, family and co-workers try to say things to make you feel better, but it has the reverse impact. Your experience or feelings should not be diminished for any reason.
Our work together will also focus on how to communicate your emotions effectively with your partner and how to maintain intimacy in your relationship. Many couples struggle in their relationship during this time and intimacy feels like a scheduled chore that causes tension. Couples may also find they are distant from each other in their grief rather than being joined together in the process. Couples often report feel powerless to the situation.
We will focus on helping you take back control of your emotions and the situation and help you to find peace with the present. We will explore how to take care of yourself and your relationship during the seemingly endless periods of waiting.
We will look at how our thoughts and feelings impact our behaviors and how we can relieve symptoms of depression by working to unravel the thoughts that feed into our emotional state of being. This is formally referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I also work in a solution-focused manner, which starts with helping you identify what you most want to alleviate or change and then we will work towards meeting those goals.
Anxiety is also common during this time. The uncertainty and grief leads to anxiety, worry and sometimes panic. Many of the techniques we use to treat symptoms of depression help to alleviate anxiety as well. Counseling provides a safe place to speak about those thoughts and to get support. You will gain tools to help you cope with upsetting emotions and help seeing situations from a different perspective. You will learn to feel more in control of your emotions, rather than feeling like your emotions are controlling you.
As a licensed professional who is also a mother, you will find that I bring my real self and experiences into therapy. I understand what it is to go through this time in your life. I was very thankful that I had my training from graduate school to rely on when I was trying to conceive because I too felt overwhelmed. I was able to navigate through this difficult time because of the tools I picked up in graduate school. It is now my humble calling to help disseminate these tools to moms-to-be to help them too feel confident and able as a mother.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and all-consumed, I am here to help you find the support and validation you have not found from your usual support system. Counseling can help you survive this difficult time in your life and embrace your future with open arms. Sometimes, all we need is a little help picking ourselves up and then we are off to the races again.
I’M STILL NOT SURE IF THERAPY WILL HELP ME.
MY PARTNER IS NOT SURE ABOUT COMING WITH ME.
If your partner is reluctant to come in, you are welcome to come in for an individual session. Your partner is welcome to join at a later date. Often, individual work can be just a powerful since grieving can be a very personal experience. You and your partner may be impacted differently or sometimes schedule only allow one person to come in. I work with both individuals and couples on the journey to start or grow a family.
I SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIGURE THIS OUT ON MY OWN.
It is impossible to have the answers to everything all the time. We are, after all, simply human. This is an incredibly emotional time for you and your partner. Most suffer through it in silence and do not talk about it openly until years after being through it. Seeking therapy may even help reduce your levels of stress and help you get pregnant faster.
I AM A VERY PRIVATE PERSON AND FIND IT HARD TO OPEN UP.
So am I. I get that it can be incredibly difficult to talk to a stranger about things you find hard to tell even your closest friend or partner. We will go at your pace and only talk about what is top of mind for you. This is your counseling after all and it will focus on helping you achieve your goals. You may even find that it is easier to open up once we have met in person. Many people tell me that I am fairly easy to talk to.