|"In some ways, infertility grief is similar to the sorrow that comes when someone you love
dies. That which you are missing seemingly becomes magnified when you see those who
have what you've lost or what you want and don't have. While this increased awareness
seems like envy, in reality it has to do with loss: Loss of expectations . . ."
Melanie Dillon, Coffee and Clomid
|from the desk of Dr. Pierce-Davis . . .
Over the past ten years, I began to see in my practice a growing number of women with
fertility problems. Along with fertility concerns came complaints of depression, anxiety,
relationship problems, feelings of isolation and sadness.
Gradually, their stories of frustration, discouragement and grief unfolded: months of
disappointment, roller coaster emotions, miscarriages, and uncomfortable fertility treatments.
They found themselves avoiding settings where children and babies were present --
shopping malls, holiday gatherings, family reunions, church. Most distressing was
embarrassment they felt from unwitting and hurtful comments made by family and friends,
even strangers. As time went on they became increasingly isolated with their pain and
One day, a client invited me to a Resolve meeting. Resolve is a national organization
dedicated to supporting families with fertility issues.
After the meeting, I made a commitment to become a resource for families struggling with the
complex and painful issue of infertility. I studied the physiology, and psychology of infertility
and treatments. I consulted with physicians and counseled their patients. I was invited to
speak to professional and lay groups on emotional and spiritual issues unique to Infertility.
I assessed individuals for programs on the cutting edge of the field such as egg and sperm
donation, donor recipient, and gestational carrier programs. I worked with families and
adoption agencies, counseling, assisting, and providing necessary assessment and
I understand that it is important to grieve the losses of infertility: the loss of one's
expectations, of an unborn child, or a future never given a chance. I also understand the deep
psychological need to carry a child and to give birth. It is not something easily forfeited.
When you talk to me, you will know that I have heard the story before.
4131 Spicewood Springs Road
Austin, TX 78759
unique to the person
and the issues ~
How to manage the stress
|By Linda Hammer Burns, PhD
Infertility is a complicated medical problem that can trigger many different emotions.
The experience can cause sudden acute psychological pain and grief following, for
example, an unexpected diagnosis or difficult treatment decision. Infertility can also be
an open-ended situation where there are no clear endings and mourning and grief is
prolonged because a glimmer of hope may linger.
Unfortunately, the infertility experience can trigger unresolved emotional issues from
the past and may also launch a major assault on one's self esteem and personal
identity. Infertility can feel like a death, like a prolonged mourning process as dreams
die and hopes are dashed. It can also be a time filled with feelings of jealousy, rage,
envy, and longing. Individuals and couples may isolate themselves or feel isolated
from family and friends. Many people get worn down physically and emotionally by the
experience and not surprisingly, marital, family, and social relationships can suffer as
It may be hard to know when emotional responses to the pain and frustration of
infertility are within normal, expected range or are excessive and problematic.
If you are experiencing any of the following feelings, you may want to see an infertility
counselor or therapist: