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When we are trying to conceive, it seems as though every other woman has a swelling belly (and not the prior night’s ice cream binge, either). Many of us think, with tears in our eyes, “Why not me?” Infertility affects one in six couples. It is painful, difficult and all-consuming to those of us who have dealt with this obstacle.
Whether we have waited too long, have “aging eggs,” or been diagnosed (after much prodding and poking) with some medical condition, it does not matter. What does matter is that we want to be pregnant and hold our baby in our arms. We know, and have been told countless times, that there are many options, such as surrogacy, adoption and donors. We are smart, educated women who understand our choices, but the choices do not fill the void or lessen our feelings of inadequacy. There was a time when this topic was taboo and was not discussed. It was swept under the proverbial rug. Fortunately, that is not the case today. Just take a look at the magazines around you, and you realize how countless celebrities have helped to remove the stigma by openly discussing this universal epidemic.
Our mothers, friends, husbands and partners, while well-meaning, cannot fully empathize. Unless you have experienced the worries and challenges of infertility, it is hard to understand the feelings of emptiness and failure. The fun begins with the “diagnosis.” You might think we mean lots and lots of sex…wrong.
It is not that kind of fun. We do not even get to have sex; we are told to abstain in order to achieve better “potency.” We are prescribed a slew of drugs, we inject ourselves, and then we give our partner the pleasure (not that kind of pleasure) of finding the right spot (not that spot) and have them give us our shots (not those shots). The side effects range from bruising at the injection site to extreme mood swings. OMG - those mood swings, which alone can put the kibosh on any relationship. Infertility, drug therapy and IVF are a rollercoaster ride with many ups and downs. We become obsessive about the day of the month, we cry at the drop of a hat, we obsess about the cost. A friend told us that her insurance company would pay for birth control and abortions, but not infertility treatments. Imagine that.
When going through this, it may seem as though life has you in a holding pattern, and it is understandable that you may be feeling angry, disillusioned, or that life isn’t fair. And you are certainly entitled to feel the way you do. In spite of the ups and downs of this journey, the question is: how can you take that encumbering energy and transform it to keep your spirits up and help you to remain focused? Not easy to answer, but the toughest questions offer the most room for introspection and personal growth.
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