Are You Worried About Starting A Family?
Have you lain awake at night worrying about your path to parenthood? Have you struggled to become pregnant and feel unprepared for the challenges of treatment? Have you suffered a terrible loss in pursuit of forming a family?
Perhaps you are considering fertility treatment, but are worried about its effectiveness. Are you worried about the stress that it may put on your family and yourself? Or are you worried that it might not be successful?
Perhaps you are an LGBTQ couple looking to start a family, but feel like you need some guidance on the path to LGBTQ parenting. Do you have concerns about the complexities involved in having a child or navigating adoption procedures? Do you know people who have had bad experiences with this and it makes you hesitant? Or do you have friends or family members who just aren’t that supportive?
Are you a single person who simply wants to experience parenthood without the pressure of having to wait for the “right” partner? Perhaps you would like to know more about your options. You could be worried about the reality of raising a child alone. You may even worry whether the (antiquated but still existent) stigma of being a single parent will affect you or your child.
Maybe you’ve been trying to have a child for months without success and are finding it hard to think about anything else. Are you constantly checking your temperature to keep track of your fertility cycle? Are you trying to become an expert in fertility-enhancing herbal supplements? You might even be trying to carefully plan your sex life around ovulation, quite possibly straining your relationship in the process.
You may be a little bit envious of others, wondering why becoming a parent seems so easy for them when it’s been so difficult for you. These feelings may cause guilt, shame, anger, or any other multitude of painful feelings. You wish more than anything that you could just be happy. Do you want to navigate your path to becoming a parent while still being able to experience joy for other people and for yourself?
Many Couples Struggle With Fertility Problems
Infertility is more common than you might think—at least 12% of all women have difficulty with either becoming pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Additionally, about 15 to 25% of recognized pregnancies end in a miscarriage; that rate is understood to be 50% or more for pregnancies that terminated before they were known. Unsurprisingly, fertility issues often give rise to profound feelings of doubt, fear, and grief.
Infertility can also have a significant effect on a relationship. You or your partner may experience guilt, anger, envy or resentment. One or both of you may become increasingly critical, of yourselves or of each other. And, despite knowing intellectually that you are not the only ones struggling with fertility issues, emotionally, it is still extremely difficult to process.
It can be rare to hear people talk openly about fertility problems because, for some, infertility brings with it a deep sense of shame. Between societal pressure and potential feelings of inadequacy, you may start to feel like this is your fault—and shut yourself off from others in the process. You may even decide infertility treatment is too stressful and quit.
If you’re struggling to keep up with fertility protocols, wondering if it is even worth it anymore, don’t lose hope. Counseling can provide you with coping methods and practices to help you make decisions about your path toward having a child—ones that aren’t driven by your need to escape the pain that the family building rollercoaster can bring.
How Can Fertility Counseling Help Me?
Counseling may not be what makes all of the pieces for having a child align, but it can give you a safe space to say what you need to without fear of judgment, retaliation, or disappointment. And, it can teach you valuable coping skills that will help you keep going if you decide that fertility treatment is right for you.
When I work with clients, my primary goal is to provide a non-judgmental space where they can come to know themselves deeply; a place where people can reactivate their own sense of empowerment and make it through even the most difficult of times. I aim to uncover and understand my clients’ own wants and needs, not just the ones that even the most well-intentioned friends or family may encourage.
I will always tailor my approach specifically to you. I want you to have the tools you need to overcome any emotional hurdles that might come your way—from the fortitude required to make it through another IVF cycle or other fertility treatment, to deciding to use donor gametes or a gestational carrier, to freezing your eggs, to trying again (or deciding not to) after suffering a pregnancy loss. Together we will work through the grief that comes from not being able to attain the vision of parenthood you have imagined. I strive to provide a warm space where you can receive what you need to attain a life you can love, even if it isn’t the exact vision you had in mind.
Together we’ll explore your thoughts, feelings, desires, and fears and develop strategies to help you manage the stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and guilt that can accompany infertility or family building. I use a variety of modalities in my sessions. This means that I am extensively trained in, and will utilize, many different methods to find the best solution for your situation.
I emphasize practices that you can take beyond the office and into everyday life. For example, when a person becomes overwhelmed by the complex processes of creating a family, basic self-care might go out the window. It may seem small in comparison to the magnitude of your family building endeavor, but neglecting even the tiniest bits of self-care can add to your overall stress. Working together, I can help you identify the parts of your life you’ve been ignoring and create strategies to reintegrate them.
My first career was in reproductive healthcare policy and the intersection of reproductive and family law. While activism and advocacy are still important parts of my life, I realized along the way that I was more suited to helping people emotionally than through legal action and I became a therapist in 2006. I’ve also had my own personal struggles with fertility and loss. Because of this, I know how important it is to have support—without strings attached—through your fertility and family building journey.
My own experience as a patient of reproductive medicine may be helpful in understanding the feelings and experiences my clients have, but every person’s journey is different. In an effort to provide my clients with the best possible care through their family building journeys, I attained certification as an infertility counselor through the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. I also make it a point to pursue the latest resources, attend conferences, and continue taking courses, so that I am familiar with the most cutting-edge reproductive medicine offerings.
Creating a family can be a long, hard road, coupled with many ups and downs. However, I want you to know that counseling can help you to escape undue shame and find peace with your situation, whatever form your journey may take.
You May Still Have Questions About Fertility Counseling…
How is therapy going to help me have a baby?
There is a lot more that goes into having a child than the physical mechanics of the process. Therapy will give you strategies to handle stress and relationship discord. Moreover, it can help you continue treatment by putting you in a better place psychologically, making it more likely that you’ll succeed.
I’m worried that fertility counseling will be too expensive.
While an understandable concern—especially given the significant financial resources required by the other pieces of your family building journey—I would counter that people are often more successful when they have the necessary support structures in place. On your own, it can be easy to get discouraged. You may revert to unhelpful or even self-destructive coping strategies that lead to painful outcomes, such as dropping out of fertility treatment. Therapy can renew your optimism and help you to keep going, if that is what you decide is the right path for you.
I’m worried you’ll think my problems have to do with my childhood, not the present.
There’s a common misconception that therapy is always about “digging up the past,” but that isn’t always true. We only have to talk about whatever comes up. As things arise, I may ask questions about your history in an effort to better understand where you are today and, if you do want to talk about something from your past, that’s perfectly fine. Overall, I am more concerned about helping you in the present and making sure that you have the tools and coping mechanisms to help you achieve what you want most.
Schedule A Free Consultation
If you have any questions about fertility counseling, I offer a free 20-minute phone consultation. You are welcome to schedule a consult directly through my calendar by clicking the button below, send me an email at erin(at)tiernotherapy(dot)com, or you can call me at (720) 626-4105. I’m ready to start helping you on the road to starting a family—whatever that road might look like.