Sunday, October 16, 2016

How infertile patients make life harder for themselves

There is no question that infertility can cause a lot of stress, but sometimes infertile patients make a bad situation worse by increasing their own stress levels. They start to catastrophize and worry  about how they will cope in case the IVF cycle fails, even before starting the treatment.

They worry about how much money they've spent , and that they may not be able to afford another cycle. Their biggest fear is that their world will come to an end if they're not able to have a baby; that life will not be worth living if they remain childless; or that their husband may desert them if they remain infertile.

Yes, being infertile creates lots of worries and concerns, and everyone on the infertility journey has to deal with these. Most patients handle the uncertainty maturely. They understand that life is full of problems, and that they have successfully dealt with similar problems in the past . They have tackled the slingshots of ill-fortune, and have emerged stronger as a result of these battles. They understand that infertility will be another of the obstacles they will have to learn to handle.

However, some couples just go to pieces, especially if they have a shaky marriage to start with , because infertility can often be the last straw which breaks the camel's back.

It's important to learn simple tools to make sure that you don't drive yourself crazy during your IVF treatment . Not only will they help you to retain your sanity, they will also prevent you from anatgonising the clinic staff  by asking the same questions again and again . Why didn't the embryos implant? Why are the eggs of poor quality? Why is the sperm count poor?  The truth is that we don't have answers to lots of these questions, and asking them repeatedly will not change this fact. In any case, these are poor quality questions because they don't really change your treatment options - and what you need to be thinking about are your next action steps.

Yes, I understand that infertility can break your heart, but you still need to deal with this objectively . If you don't, you'll find yourself getting sucked into a negative vicious cycle , and it can be very hard for you to cope with this. Not only will you end up making the journey much harder for yourself, you'll make it much harder for everyone who is around you - your friends who love you and who want to support you. You may end up driving them away , because they will find that you have become obsessive about your single-minded pursuit to have a baby. You keep on thinking and talking about the same issues ( for example, about how unfair life is and how unkind God is ), and playing them back again and again. At some point you need to snap out of this funk. While it's okay to feel sorry for yourself, you can't immerse yourself in self-pity because this is not a very constructive way of dealing with life's problems.

The problem is that some infertile patients feel that they are entitled to have a baby - that the world owes them a baby. They dump their anger and unhappiness on their friends, and just end up distancing them . This just makes matters worse !  They need to learn that life is not always fair, and the sooner they accept this, the easier it will be for them to cope with their feelings as mature adults.

The good news is there are lots of useful tools available to deal with this distress . For example, you could go to a counselor ; or learn self-awareness and other mindfulness techniques , such as meditation and yoga.

A sense of humour will help you retain your sanity, so that you can keep a detached perspective. Another method  which many infertile patients find very helpful , is to step out of themselves, and behave as an observer. For example, they can pretend that it's not them but their friend who is infertile, and that they are counselling them how to cope. It's much easier to advice someone else than to follow your own advice !

Always remember that other infertile couples have dealt with this problem in the past successfully, and you can find the inner strength to deal with it yourself as well.

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