Infertility is hard to talk about. It is highly personal, deeply emotional and difficult to share. With Mother’s Day looming on the horizon, social media outlets are beginning to flood with odes to moms, TV commercials and grocery stores are flaunting the holiday front and center. But, what about those suffering from infertility? For them, this holiday is a painful reminder of what they don’t have.
Infertility is not uncommon. One in eight couples in the U.S. will struggle with fertility challenges. It is often unexpected, emotionally-draining, and accompanied by a flood of worries about everything from financial hardship to the future of their family.
Social Media As A Resource
Social media and the internet can be a wonderful resource for women and couples struggling with infertility. There are support groups and links to other women who can shine light on the fact that you are not alone. Painful emotions can be ignited not just on Mother’s Day, but also with the pregnancy announcements, new baby pictures, family photos, complaining parents, and advice-seeking parents in your circle.
I frequently suggest to clients that they should limit their time on social media and instead search for support groups. Find people they can talk to who understand their struggles, their pain, and their frustrations. I encourage clients to open up about their stories when they are comfortable. Facing infertility is much easier when you have a support system, a team around you to rally and lift you up when you are feeling hopeless.
The Resolve.org website can connect you with local support groups and online resources. Sarah’s Laughter is a national organization for infertility and pregnancy loss support and they have a Lancaster chapter. Check out their website for information on meetings https://www.sarahs-laughter.com/lancastercountypa. There are also several Infertility-themed podcasts that may provide you education and support- The Fertility Warriors podcast, Sarah’s Laughter Infertility podcast, Beat Infertility podcast, among many others.
Infertility is an emotional rollercoaster filled with highs and lows and a mix of emotions. There is a lot of blame, regret, and wondering “what if I had done this differently or started trying to conceive sooner.” Others who have not struggled in the same way may not understand how or why those struggling feel the way they do. Many couples dealing with infertility feel misunderstood by family members or sick of getting the dreaded responses— “why don’t you just adopt,” “relax and it will happen,” etc. That is why it is important to find others who have been in your shoes and can empathize with your experiences.
Seeking help from a licensed mental health professional who has experience in working with clients struggling with infertility can also be beneficial. You didn’t choose this path. You are not in control of an infertility diagnosis. A mental health professional can help you to see that it’s not your fault, support you emotionally, and help you explore all family building options.
Author: Jennifer Collins, PsyD
Jennifer is a licensed clinical psychologist that has been in the mental health field for over 15 years. She works with issues related to infertility and the use of assisted reproduction. She also teaches behavioral management of ADHD, and works with individuals who have unhealthy relationships with food.