7 Ways Infertility Hijacks Your Life

An infertility diagnosis and the process of treatment can hijack your life.  One of my beautiful clients told me, “It feels like a being on a fast moving train without brakes, going toward an unknown destination and you can’t get off.”  Another told me, “It’s like a bad dream you can’t wake up from.”  Here’s what I wish people understood about infertility. It hijacks your life, similar to the possibility of a cancer diagnosis. Both spin your head around and can shake you to your core.  Are they exactly the same?  Of course not.  But there are similarities.  Here are 7 ways infertility hijacks your life:

  1. Your plans for your life are now different. Most of us grow up with the idea that we will meet the right partner, plan our pregnancies, and enjoy our lives.  *screeeeech* Um, no.  The plans have changed against your will. Your life is now controlled by your menstrual cycle and a clinic.  For the gentlemen among us, you never planned to “produce a sample” with others’ knowledge, did you? I think not.
  2. You lose control. Of your body. Of your work schedule.  Of your money.  Of your time. Of the way that things are just supposed to be.  Most of us don’t like something or someone else controlling us.  The many requirements of a treatment cycle control many parts of one’s days for weeks at a time.  Be here.  Do that.  Be here again.  Do this other thing.  Do it some more. For people who describe themselves as planners and self-described control freaks, infertility throws a wrench into the very way that you think.  *cue anxiety*
  3. Your dreams of the future are altered. Your biggest worries used to be what month you would get pregnant in and where you would do yoga.  You wanted to space your three children 2½ years apart. You were already thinking about the Disney vacation.  You have had a vision of two children at your table.  Now you are grateful to be able to have one child. Or get pregnant at all.  (No, I’m not telling you to be grateful for what you have but somebody will, unfortunately).
  4. Your life is on hold. It’s hard to make plans.  Your extended family is planning the dream vacation next summer.  Wait a minute, you might be doing an embryo transfer or waiting for your first ultrasound at that time.  And, of course, others will pressure you in a variety of ways. Why can’t you come to the party? Can’t you put off you insemination? Why are you always so preoccupied?  It is very difficult not to think about something, isn’t it?
  5. Your finances have been hijacked. You might have been planning to buy a home, or a car, or plan for your retirement.   Now you may be forced into debt in a way that you have never considered. You must now think intentionally about money and its uses.  Why do you have to pay for a child when the weird neighbors
    pop out kids like popcorn?
  6. Sex is no longer about fun or closeness. It’s a J-O-B.  Something to do on command, at the right time, on the right day.  Many of my clients have said something like this: “Have sex?  Why would we do that just for fun?  Our job is to show up at the clinic and punch the time clock.
  7. The way you usually take care of your body has to change.  It is an unfortunate truth that fertility drugs often cause weight gain.  That might be okay if you could exercise but now you can’t exercise when and how you want to.  For many people exercise is how they manage anxiety and keep in shape.  Are you a runner or a triathlete?  Nope, you can walk though.  Like that feels the same.

Soooo, what to do?  

Know that this time in your life will be worth it, somehow. You will do whatever you decide to do and know that you have no regrets.  Maybe you will end up with the children you have dreamed of.  Maybe you will find you inner resilience and find out that you are a pretty tough–and great–person. Maybe your relationship will become even stronger than you could have ever imagined. Maybe you will become even deeper and more empathetic than you are now.  We figure out later, at some point in the future, how we have changed.  Fight back.  Be mad at infertility, not at yourself.  You will get through this.  Somehow.  Some way.  Remember you are not alone.  I am in it with you all the way along the journey.  (And please share this blog post with people who don’t get it!) 

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