Most people don’t spend a lot of time wondering what it would be like to go through infertility. They’ve dreamed about their family and how it will look, but what happens when things don’t go that way? Infertility is such a stigmatized and uncomfortable topic that no one talks about. I hear so often misunderstandings about what it’s like to get pregnant and plans of how everything will go, down to planning the birthday around the school year calendar. We have expectations of what it is like to be pregnant and start our families, which may or may not be met, altered, and accepted. With infertility, there are no expectations at all.
So what can you expect when you’re not expecting?
A rollercoaster of emotions:
As you go along your journey, there will be complicated emotions involved. Not only that, but you never know when a new feeling is coming around the corner or where it will pop up. I suggest not fighting those feelings too much, and instead take some time to feel them. They are important for your healing.
Learning lots of medical information:
You will hear new acronyms and medical terminology that you are likely unfamiliar. Furthermore, you will be asked to track your cycle, take your temperature, complete ovulation tests, etc. It can be a lot of information and new vocabulary. You may want to bring a notebook or use your phone to write down what the doctor says to make sure you understand and have the chance to look things up later. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unclear about something or need further explanation. If the doctor does not want to take the time to explain things to you, it might be time for a different doctor.
Differing ideas of how to proceed:
As you are initially getting the diagnosis, you may not understand all the options. After all, you’ve never been through this before. As you continue and try different procedures, you and your partner may disagree about how you want to proceed. Women tend to want to try more aggressive procedures quicker, and men often want to move slower through the process and give things more time. Keep open communication with your partner as everything unfolds and don’t make assumptions about what the other person wants.
Questions that you don’t know how to answer:
Be prepared that other people in your life will start to ask you invasive and personal questions. Even if they do not know you are going through infertility, people will likely be asking you if you are going to start a family soon or when will you give your first child a brother or sister. The more that people know about your situation, the more unexpected questions will come your way. Talk about this with your partner and have a plan for how you both feel comfortable answering these questions, especially when on the way to family Thanksgiving dinner or a Christmas party.
There are so many awkward moments that happen when you’re going through infertility. Someone may ask an embarrassing question, about your body or your sex life. Speaking of sex, things can become uncomfortable when sex is for procreation instead of for fun. My advice is to go with these awkward moments the best you can and open up to a little bit of humor. It’s a devastating time in so many ways, so if something comes along that has the potential to lighten things up, allow that in instead of letting it upset you. And if you can’t do that, don’t be afraid to tell people they’ve hurt your feelings.
Unhelpful advice mixed with amazing support:
With infertility, people respond in many different ways. I’ve written about the four types of responders previously, the fixer, the minimizer, the existentialist, and the blamer. People will offer so much unhelpful and unsolicited advice about how to manage this life crisis, but within those conversations there is also so much support. You’ll want to read those posts to learn the value of each responder and how to deal with them with discussions don’t go so well.
Lots of Opportunities to Connect over the tough stuff:
And this brings me to the most important idea…infertility leads you to a vulnerable place. There are so many deep and significant emotions and insights involved. Sometimes we feel inclined to shut off when really hard things are going on because we don’t want to appear weak or broken. But we know that vulnerability and openness is what connects people. Painful experiences are what leads to more closeness with those around us, and therefore more meaningful relationships and conversations.
Now that you have some idea of what to expect when you’re not expecting, take this time to reach out to someone for support. It’s never an easy road and there are so many things that cause pain and struggle along the way. Find a friend to talk to you, and keep sharing with your partner about your feelings each step of the way.
If you find that you need additional support, don’t hesitate to call me for a free phone consultation at (832) 827-3288 to learn how I can help you understand your emotions and learn how to use your feelings to heal and create something meaningful from your infertility experience. I will support you each step of the way and work through the pain with you. I am an infertility counseling expert and Marriage and Family Therapist located in the Clear Lake area of Houston, Tx. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.