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."
You started trying to conceive.
And now you wait.
2 weeks at a time...
Each passing cycle, the despair and angst grows.
Trying to conceive and having trouble is gut-wrenching.
Feelings of sadness, jealousy and resentment can creep in and begin to impact your relationship with your partner and also your closest friends.
Expectations and plans for your career and family are suddenly shifting underneath you.
You wanted two kids (or 3 or more) but if it takes this long, you may only be able to have one - if you can have any at all.
Anxiety. Sadness. Grief. Anger. You feel them all. Sometimes at the same time.
PERHAPS YOU FINALLY GOT PREGNANT.
ONLY TO SUFFER A DEVASTATING LOSS.
AND NOW YOU YEARN EVEN MORE FOR YOUR RAINBOW BABY.
TRIGGERS FOR YOUR SADNESS AND RESENTMENT COME UNEXPECTEDLY.
The innocent stranger's question.
A birth announcement on social media.
Pictures of your friend's children.
Family gatherings over the holidays.
A baby shower.
You try to be happy for them. But a large part of you yearns for what they have.
It's just not fair. Why me? Why us?
Doctors may have an answer. But usually don't.
Try this. How about that? Let's wait and see how this works.
You are frustrated. You are tired. You are exhausted.
You simply want to have a family. Why is this so hard?!?!
Now, lets try IVF. So wake up and go to appointments before the sun comes up.
Postpone travel plans. Stay close to home.
Your life is on hold trying to move forward.
YOUR CORNER OF THE WORLD FEELS VERY LONELY.
BUT MANY COUPLES STRUGGLE THROUGH INFERTILITY.
IT IS MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK BECAUSE IT IS A PERSONAL JOURNEY MOST DON'T SHARE WITH OTHER PEOPLE - SOMETIMES NOT EVEN THEIR FAMILY.
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 as some women experience hemorrhaging or other complications and require immediate medical attention. 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 going to make it due to unknown reason.
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.
ALL I WANT IS A BABY?
HOW WILL THERAPY HELP?
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.
We are only barely beginning to better understand how the mind and the body work together. But research shows that women with high stress levels took 29% longer to get pregnant than those that had lower stress levels. It's almost like the mind realizes "Hey, things are stressful, probably not a good time for a baby." Couples also tend to have less sex when they are stressed out, so there is that as well.
Therapy while trying to conceive can help you have an outlet for your anxiety and provide a safe space for you to speak your truth about your fears. Therapy can help you reframe negative thoughts that may not be anywhere close to true. Simple cognitive exercises are proven to have a huge impact on behaviors and mood.
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.
Begin by identifying what you most want to alleviate or change and then we will work towards meeting those goals.
Focus on helping you take back control of your emotions and the situation.
Help you to find peace with the present.
Explore how to take care of yourself and your relationship during the seemingly endless periods of waiting.
Look at how thoughts and feelings impact behaviors and how we can relieve symptoms of depression by working to unravel the thoughts that feed into your emotional state of being.
STILL WONDERING IF THERAPY WHILE TRYING TO CONCEIVE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
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 schedules only allow one person to come in. I work with both individuals and couples on the journey to start or grow a family.
I have so little time for therapy right now.
Time is one of the single most limiting factors that stop us from getting help. That is why I offer shorter, 30-minute sessions after our initial 45-minute evaluation sessions. I also strive to keep treatment brief & focused—I only schedule sessions as often as is clinically necessary. Once we determine you are finding the relief you have been searching for, we can discuss how to maintain these gains and begin spacing out sessions to a couple of times per month.
I’m not sure about online therapy–is it private and secure?
Online therapy is incredibly convenient. But I understand privacy is a concern. Your privacy is of the utmost importance to me. Every practice decision I make begins with the question, “Is this HIPAA compliant and secure?” Telehealth sessions are conducted through a secure, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform called Telehealth by SimplePractice. You can use any computer with a webcam, smartphone, or tablet, knowing the session will be confidential.
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.
Therapy is expensive and I can’t afford it.
Treatment is an investment in yourself. We can quantify how much therapy will cost, but the impact of not getting treatment for your anxiety is not as easily quantified—especially if your symptoms are severe.
I encourage you to check with your insurance plan to find out what your out-of-network benefits will cover. You may be surprised that they are more generous than you imagined. Additionally, I accept payment via FSA cards and am a provider with the Lyra network. Many large employers are offering therapy benefits through Lyra now because they realize the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on their employees.
Not sure if your company is partnered with Lyra? It's quick and easy to find out. Simply click the link below to go to Lyra's site and type in the name of your company. Check your spouse's company as well. Many offer benefits for all benefit eligible members of the family. You can also check with your Human Resources Representative.