Coping with the Empty Ache of Infertility

Couples who have struggled with infertility know how tightly grief holds infertility’s hand.  According to Brad Johnson of Focus on the Family (The Grief of Infertility), a global organization focusing on helping families thrive, “Grief is a real part of infertility. It may be heightened in miscarriages or stillbirths, but it is just as real when a couple cannot conceive.” Mr. Johnson goes on to say that the sense of loss an infertile couple experiences can be as deep as the grief they would have felt if a parent passes away.

While the grief is real, the road through infertility is often a lonely one. Even when the struggles and heartaches are shared with family or friends, they may not know what to say. Well intended questions from friends about plans for family building easily turn into stinging remarks. Announcements of pregnancy or births can remind couples of the missed opportunities and leave a sense of envy. Regularly occurring events, such as walking past an empty nursery or a menstrual cycle can easily cause the pain to resurface. Few Hallmark cards line the store shelves offering condolences for such missed opportunities and even if they did, they would likely feel trite.

The unfulfilled desire to build a family can become overwhelming.  Lisa Brock, also of Focus on the Family, shares that there are a few ways to make it a little easier (Coping with Infertility).

Recognize Your Emotions
The sense of grief, despair, envy and failure are real, even if a couple is grieving a child they’ve never conceived. Acknowledging and facing the emotions is the first step to a healthier outlook.

Seek Support 
While infertility can feel like a lonely road to walk, 7.3 million other individuals in the United States (or roughly 10% of reproductive age couples) struggle with infertility (Infertility Causes and Treatments). Online and in-person support groups offer opportunities for couples to meet others who have faced the same struggles while walking through the pain of infertility together. Many of these support groups also offer opportunities to explore if infertility treatments are the right fit for a couple.

Face your depression 
The heartache of infertility leads to depression for almost all couples struggling to conceive (Coping with Infertility). Untreated depression and stress can also lower fertility rates. Seeking to reduce stress and feelings of despair while increasing enjoyment in life will help couples hope again.

Choose Carefully 
The desire to build a family may make it difficult to determine the right path. In vitro fertilization and other medical advances have made it possible for more than 80% of couples previously struggling with infertility to become pregnant (Coping with Infertility). These medical advances do not, however, come without difficult ethical dilemmas. For a couple seeking to experience the joys (and challenges!) of pregnancy, embryo adoption, an exciting new adoption option may provide a solution to their infertility and their yearning for building a family. Embryo adoption is adoption at the earliest developmental stage. Through embryo adoption, the adoptive mother gives birth to her adopted child.

To learn more about embryo donation and adoption visit www.EmbryoAdoption.org.

To read more about coping with the grief of infertility, please visit Focus on the Family’s website.

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