By Tess Law, Counsellor at City Fertility Centre Gold Coast
When you come to a crossroads in your journey to become a parent it can be a difficult time.
You may have been trying to fall pregnant for a while without yet achieving a positive pregnancy, or you might have experienced a miscarriage. You may be exhausted, overwhelmed and down-right angry with the world.
These emotions are all understandable and it is probably the right time to take a step back and re-evaluate where things are at.
Here are a few tips on things to consider if you are at a crossroads in your fertility journey.
Reassess where things are at with partner, doctor and counsellor
Discuss where things are at with your treatment, what has been working and what hasn’t, and how you and your partner are coping physically, emotionally and financially. Specific fertility counselling offers the opportunity to look at how you are feeling, identify areas that are causing you distress, and find strategies that may be more useful to you.
Consider other fertility treatments options
Now might be the right time to consider what other fertility treatment options might be worth trying. With advancements happening all the time in assisted reproductive technologies there are often several options that might be suitable and worth giving a go. Your fertility specialist will always be on hand to offer a listening ear and expert medical advice on the various options available such as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, donor eggs/sperm or surrogacy to name a few.
Set a time-frame to make other decisions
While you may need a breather or time to grieve, it is important to set yourself a timeframe for making a decision for your next steps. Without this you can be paralysed by indecision that causes more harm than good.
Give yourself time to grieve
Another vital part of this process is to grieve the losses that make up your infertility experience. You may still be processing the realisation that you are unable to conceive naturally, mourning a failed IVF cycle, miscarriage or something as elusive as the dream of parenting, but it’s important to acknowledge each loss and to grieve in a way that is right for you. Remember each person grieves differently and that’s okay. You do not have to grieve alone, counselling is available to support you through this process.
Look after yourself
The better care you can take of yourself, the better you are able to cope during this challenging time. Taking care of yourself means doing things that add to your sense of well-being and help relieve the stress associated with infertility. Eat well, exercise as recommended and sleep well. Try to be as healthy as you can, but without being too rigid and hard on yourself and try to find joy in the present.
Take a break
Consider giving yourself a little time-out from thinking about your fertility to clear your head. Perhaps refocus your mind and energy during this time on a new hobby, project or holiday, Importantly, take the time to relax e.g. visit the beach, have a massage or beauty treatment, read a book, watch the sunset, go to the movies or theatre, join a club or get among nature and just breathe.
Finally, is it the right time to look at other alternatives?
Most know when it is time to stop and seek relief from the constant procedures and disappointments. You may decide to stop because you are exhausted with it all. It is important to realise that it will still take time to accept that you won’t have children from this treatment, and that sadness and anger is normal. It may also be just as hard to realise that you may never know why it didn’t work. However, knowing that you tried really hard to make it happen can be comforting, and eventually moving forward from being in a limbo phase can help you regain some control too.
When ready, some things you may wish to consider are: planning other ways to have children, like adopting of fostering; arranging to spend special time with friends’ or relatives’ children; getting a pet; helping people in need; developing a life plan – career, fitness, travel, hobbies etc.; taking a well- deserved rest or holiday; gaining skills or retraining for a different career, taking up a new sport.
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