by Iris Waichler, L.C.S.W.
One of the toughest things about coping with infertility is the time you have to wait. This includes waiting for test results, waiting to find surrogates and donors, waiting to determine why you can’t have a baby, waiting for a call from the adoption agency telling you they have found a baby for you, waiting to see if your pregnancy will end with you holding a healthy baby. I am sure you can add additional stress filled categories. It is one of the most painful and difficult aspects of experiencing infertility. In thinking about it, I realized how much of my own infertility journey was spent in this frightening and helpless place. The waiting “limbo” times create huge emotional upheaval and stress.
How can you cope during this stressful time? There are things you can do to help you get through.
Seek Out Support From Friends Who Understand
- A friend who has been waiting to get the phone call from her adoption agency that they have a child for her, told me that when you are in that space time frames feel different. It is not unusual to sometimes wait years for something to happen. We are a society that expects things to happen quickly. When you are waiting to find out if or when you can build your family, days feel like weeks and other aspects of your life feel like they are on hold until you make some progress on this all-important endeavor. My friend spoke with someone else who had waited 3 years to adopt a child. She just needed to hear that other people have to wait a long time and had a good result. It gave her a new perspective on the 9 months they have been waiting.
Seek Out Support From Your Partner
You can use the waiting time to strengthen your relationship with your partner; do things you enjoy together that help you stay connected.
- Bring some romance into your lives.
- Try activities that relax you and can enrich your relationship and your marriage.
- If you feel the need to talk with your partner about family building issues on a daily basis place a time limit on this discussion. Some people even use a timer to help.
- If you both agree, take some days off and don’t talk about it. Some people believe if you don’t talk about it, that it is not important to their partners but that is not necessarily the case. People may need a break from this pressure, especially when they are waiting for news.
Seek Out a Solution to Communicating With Friends and Family
One of the most challenging aspects of waiting to build your family is all the questions and comments that friends and family throw at you. That certainly creates stress. Spend some time thinking about what information you want to share with others about your family building status.
- Maybe you would rather not say anything. A response like “that is a private decision between us” or “we will share information when the time is right” signals you would rather not discuss it.
- If you have a partner talk about it and be on the same page about how you choose to respond.
- Consider how much time you want to devote to educating others about your situation.
- Let family and friends know what you need while you are waiting to learn more.
- Identify things like sensitivity, privacy, support, someone to listen. You may want to tell them you find it too difficult to attend child focused events like baby showers or kid birthday parties. You can even practice saying your responses out loud. It may feel strange but it will help you feel more comfortable and competent when you actually need to respond to an unwelcome surprising comment.
Seek Out Additional Support
If the waiting period you are in begins to feel overwhelming or you find yourself feeling stuck, you may need to seek counseling or additional help to get through this time.
- Check with your local chapter of RESOLVE for referrals or support groups and Path2Parenthood for telecoaching groups.
- Another option is to seek a local therapist who specializes in reproductive health. This person has the knowledge and experience to help guide you. A local reproductive endocrinologist or fertility clinic generally has therapist referral information.
Remember you are not alone and try not to isolate yourself too much from others as you move through infertility and the path you choose to building your family. If you have trusted friends or family they can be an important resource to help you through these time periods. I wish you the success and peace that you hope for at the end of your infertility journey.
Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW, has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 30 years. She has done workshops, individual, and group counseling with people experiencing infertility. Ms. Waichler is the author of Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire. She currently writes freelance infertility and health related articles.