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20 Things You Can Do if You're Grappling with INFERTILITY

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness

1. Become aware of how infertility is affecting you (your feelings, thoughts, actions and your physical and spiritual reactions).

2. Know that you are experiencing normal responses to an abnormal circumstance. You are not "losing it” or "going crazy." It's okay not to be okay, right now.

3. Recognize the emotional impact on your relationship, and share your feelings with your partner.

Your feelings are not right or wrong ... they just are.

4. Speak with your healthcare providers and let them guide you with their knowledge and experience. Knowing facts will help you to make informed, goal-directed decisions.

5. Don't blame yourself. Recognize that questioning yourself and facing feelings of guilt are very common.

6. Form a "partnership" with you partner. Work together as a team to cope and problem-solve.

7. Consider joining a support group. Many people find it helpful to speak with others who are also grappling with infertility.

8. Give yourself permission to cry. Crying is a natural, tension-releasing mechanism. But, resist the tendency to withdraw and become isolated.

9. Know that people cope with challenges differently. Give your partner permission to cope in other ways.

10. Limit your exposure to baby-centered activities.

11. Surround yourself with people who listen, rather than people who have all the answers.

12. Discuss sexual tension with your partner—outside of the bedroom.

13. Don't allow infertility to become the sole focus of your life. Remind yourself that "Getting pregnant is ONE of my goals."

14. Identify healthy outlets. Find ways of using your painful emotional energy, constructively (e.g., exercising, walking, listening to music, painting, writing, etc.).

15. Spend time with your family and loved ones. Realize that your circumstance may be affecting them, too.

16. Don’t make important decisions when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Allow trusted family members or friends to assist you with necessary decision-making. Give yourself the benefit of a night’s sleep before making major decisions.

17. If stress is causing you to react physically, use controlled breathing techniques to stabilize yourself. Take a slow deep breath by inhaling through your nose, hold your breath for five seconds and then exhale through your mouth. Upon exhalation, think the words “relax,” “let go,” or “I’m handling this.” Repeat this process several times.

18. Realize that repetitive thinking, intrusive thoughts and sleep difficulties are among the most common reactions to challenging experiences. If these problems persist, speak with your healthcareprovider.

19. If you are overwhelmed, allow yourself the advantage of professional and/or spiritual support and guidance.

20. Life's most challenging experiences present opportunities. Work to cultivate a mission and purpose—beyond having a child. Seize the energy from your experience and use it to propel you to set realistic goals, make decisions and take action.


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