Why is it that we Muslim infertile women are so afraid to come out of the infertility closet? I think its because deep down we all feel scared and ashamed… Yes I know that I should not but I am ashamed of the fact that I cannot conceive my husbands, baby. We women were made to be Man’s companion, we were pit on this earth to ensure the survival of our species – incubators for nine months to future men and women and I sometimes feel that I have failed my husband for being incapable of producing an heir for him ands besides that I cannot (besides with the help of science and God of course) leave my genetic material behind on this earth, I also feel that I have denied my parents the opportunity to be grandparents. You see I have always wanted to be the best daughter, the best daughter in law and of course the best wife… and it feels as if my body has betrayed me, rebelled against me and there is nothing I can do about it. I (and neither will any of the specialists I have seen want to even attempt it, for fear of causing me further damage) cannot take the scarring away, unfreeze or defrost(ha ha) the frozen pelvis and unblock my fallopian tubes….
and it makes me SO angry….
anyway enough venting…. Allah is the best of planners… what I planned and what He has planned for me, for any one of us is so different.
This is a great and informative article regardig he emotional aspects of infertility, as I read it for the first time I really felt that the author had described me and what I have gone through and may still experience, quite interesting and helpful are the coping strategies mentioned…
Emotional Aspects of Infertility
Infertility is without a doubt a life altering experience. From your self esteem, to your plans and dreams for the future, relationships with friends, family and even your spouse can all be affected. Sadly, attention seems to be focused on the physical aspects of infertility, and the emotional aspects often go ignored and untreated. People just don’t realize how emotionally challenging and overwhelming it all can be on a couple. Because infertility is such a personal and private issue, many couples are hesitant to share their experience openly with friends and family. Avoiding questions and curiosities about “when you are having children” can end up driving a wedge between everyone close in your life. As a result, many couples suffer intensely and end up feeling isolated. However, they are not alone. In fact, 15% of all married couples experience infertility with all the feelings and frustrations that go with it.In this section, we will look at the emotional stages of infertility and strategies to deal with them. We hope that this section will help you in coping with your own feelings and in coming to a resolution that is comfortable for you. With time, patience, support and knowledge, most people eventually come to terms with their infertility. Realization and Acknowledgement Most couples assume that when the time is right, they will begin their family, and will get pregnant shortly after they stop using birth control. However, as each cycle passes, anticipation is replaced by concern. Couples are likely to feel shock and dismay when they realize they can’t conceive as easily as they thought. For couples who are used to being in control of their lives and getting what they want if they work hard enough, this can be a tough pill to swallow. Questions start haunting them – What if they’re never able to have children? Could they be sterile? What is causing the problem? These thoughts are very frightening to people who have never conceived a child. It is normal for couples to encounter a wide range of emotions before actually acknowledging they may have a fertility problem. EmotionsThe following are some examples of what a couple often experiences during the difficult acknowledgment stage:
The woman is often the first to realize that they may have a fertility problem.
The man might need to be convinced that medical intervention may be necessary.
Feelings of frustration, anger, denial, guilt, blame, self pity and jealousy begin to occur.
Emotions and disagreements in the marriage become magnified.
There are several coping strategies to help you get through this difficult stage.
Communication with others who are or have experienced difficulty conceiving will help you realize you are not alone. However, it’s important to remember everyone is unique and your situation is not exactly like anyone else’s.
If you are over 35 years of age and have been trying to conceive for 6 months or longer, or are under 35 and have been trying for 1 year or more, you should make an initial appointment with your doctor.
Be prepared for the fact that your feelings and your partner’s feelings may differ, in different ways and stages.
Expect to feel a mixture of fear, anxiety or relief or anxiety when you seek help from your doctor.
Communication with your partner is critical during this time. This may not always be easy, but you need each other’s support now, and keeping the lines of communication open is vital.
It is perfectly normal to feel frustration and anger that things aren’t going as you planned, but it’s easy to become consumed with this. Try to redirect your focus on positive things such as a favorite hobby or new activity.
When you suspect there may be a problem, responding to this early, rather than putting it off can increase a couple’s chances for a successful outcome. The earlier a problem is identified, the sooner your physician can recommend a treatment program that is suitable for you.
Evaluation and Diagnosis
During this stage, couples are looking to find an answer for their inability to conceive. Although the testing period can be evasive, stressful and expensive, the possibility of finding a diagnosis and solution gives a new sense of hope and direction. Being in the hands of a good doctor can also be reassuring.
These are some common, and very normal reactions felt by couples during the evaluation stage: ·
Loss of control. A feeling that doctors and tests are starting to control your life. Daily routines are now being scheduled around doctors’ appointments and your cycle.
Anger or disappointment at your own body. Feelings of “Why me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?”
Resentment towards others who are pregnant or have children, who didn’t have to endure this physical, mental and financial stress to conceive their children.
Sense of sexuality may diminish. What used to be spontaneous and fun is now technical and monitored, not only by the couple, but with their doctor.
Shame and embarrassment over not functioning normally.
Need for secrecy. Explaining the infertility testing to others can be very embarrassing, and can result in isolation from friends and family.
Inability or difficulty in communicating with your partner, family and friends.
Lack of privacy due to the invasive nature of tests. What was an issue between you and your spouse is now also between your doctor and the staff.
A feeling of being misunderstood by those who have children or those who are pregnant. Well meaning advice and opinions from those who have not experienced this can be very much resented.
Shock, numbness and often a great sense of relief when a diagnosis is confirmed.
These are some suggested coping strategies that may help you through this trying time.
Educate yourself. Read and learn as much as you can about infertility.
Communicate emotions and fears to your partner on a regular basis, as much as you can.
Support one another, and understand that this is a stressful time on both of you, no matter how each partner deals with it on the outside.
Know that periods of depression and anxiety may happen.
Allow yourself private time to work through your thoughts and feelings.
Get support. Find a support group, or someone who has been through this. Try sharing your problem with supportive friends or other family members.
Going to doctors’ appointments together is important, so you both understand the tests and procedures and what the medical team is looking for from both partners.
Make a list of your questions and concerns to take to your appointments, so you don’t forget to ask. It’s normal to be become nervous or sidetracked during an appointment, and often you remember things you wish you would have asked while you were there.
The evaluation can test a marriage in ways never before imagined. It’s a difficult and and traumatic time for both partners. Providing mutual emotional support and working together will alleviate some of the stress and help to avoid creating distance between a couple. Many couples find that it strengthens the relationship and they find a new sense of security, as they learn to lean on each other for needed reassurance and encouragement. Remember, infertility is not a ‘woman’s’ or a ‘man’s’ problem, it’s a ‘couple’s’ problem and should be approached as a team, with full commitment from both partners.
By this point, most couples feel that their infertility is dominating their lives. They can feel like they’re riding an emotional roller coaster. Spontaneity and freedom are a thing of the past. They are often mentally and physically exhausted and frustrated with the demands of infertility treatment.
These are some common emotions and reactions felt by couples during this stage:
Anger and resentment at their infertility for controlling their lives.
Frustration over spending so much time, energy and money with treatments that don’t guarantee a baby.
Anger at the injustice and indignity of infertility treatments. Women seem to carry the burden of this in most cases.
Feeling victimized and intimidated by doctors, technology and medication.
Emotional upset due to the powerful, hormonal effects of infertility drugs. Feelings of frustration can become uncontrollably magnified.
An increased sense of vulnerability and sensitivity.
Intercourse can start to be resented, as it can begin to represent failure.
Increased anxiety over financial costs of treatment.
Frustration from feeling life has been put “on hold”, and the inability to make short- and long-term plans.
Self-punishment; thoughts of “Maybe we don’t deserve to have a child.”
Self-blame; “If only we’d done this or that, then we’d have a baby”
The overwhelming need to learn everything about treatment options, success rates, financial costs and insurance coverage.
These are some suggested strategies to help you cope with the demands of infertility treatment.
Keeping good records of your treatments, paper work, etc. will help you maintain a sense of control, and will make it easier when pursuing insurance coverage.
Don’t expect your partner to always feel as you do, at the same times as you do. Share when you can, but don’t press it.
Try not to dwell on the short-term ups and downs of treatment.
Allow yourself to unload when you’ve reached your limit. It’s unhealthy to keep frustration and anger pent up.
Consider the possibility of reorganizing your life if treatment becomes overwhelming.
Try not to feel guilty about ‘baby-making sex’ and accept that this is part of the treatment process.
Make dates to have ‘fun sex’ during the ‘non-fertile’ times of the cycle to maintain some intimacy in your relationship.
Seek emotional support and guidance from a counselor or support group.
Although enduring infertility treatment can be the ultimate stress point, it is important to remember that you are not to blame for any failure to respond to therapy. Try to remember that there is always hope, and success may be achieved after considerable effort. Even in normal fertile couples, there is no guarantee of conceiving right away. It may just take time and repeated efforts. A successful resolution may be just around the corner for you, too. Keeping these positive thoughts make it so much more bearable.
If a couple can get through the physical and emotional strain of infertility treatment, they can likely conquer anything in life together. The ability to survive such a demanding and overwhelming experience leaves many couples with renewed self esteem and confidence. Ultimately, reaching the resolution stage is acceptance, and this is an enormous accomplishment.
This can be a time of re-prioritizing and changing life goals. These are some common emotions couples experience as they work toward resolution:
Acceptance and realization that you can’t change or completely control every aspect of your life.
A stronger feeling of closeness with your partner.
Feeling of pure exhaustion and knowing that it is time to move on.
A feeling of relief that you will not be enduring any more physical, emotional or financial strains.
A greater ability to empathize with other people’s problems.
Learning that good things can come out of bad experiences.
Realizing life can be fulfilling even when you haven’t achieved all your goals.
These are some coping strategies to help you move toward a resolution.
Communicate with others who have successfully resolved their infertility in different ways.
Continue to gain emotional support and guidance from a counselor or support group.
Focus your time and energy on your spouse and your relationship and find new hobbies and activities you can do together.
Re-establish relationships with friends and family who you may have isolated yourself from during treatment.
Realize that you may venture down the road of infertility treatment again in the future, or you may consider other alternatives, such as adoption.
If after a reasonable period of time you have been unsuccessful, the most important thing to remember is that you always have choices. You can choose to continue treatment options, or you may decide it is no longer a practical option for you and your partner. You can also choose to look at any obstacle as an opportunity for another.
Emotional Aspects of Infertility was brought to you courtesy of www.FertileThoughts.com. FertileThoughts.com is a web site dedicated to supporting family-building efforts including infertility, adoption, surrogacy, pregnancy and parenting.