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Archive for June, 2009

The pressure to raise a family can be enormous, and the thought of not being able to have children can make many people feel something is wrong with them. We talked to respected psychologists who work with couples with fertility problems to find out which coping strategies really work.

Recognize that a fertility problem is a crisis. A fertility problem may be one of the most difficult challenges you’ll ever face. Acknowledging this is a key to coping, says Kate Marosek, who’s counseled couples with fertility complications in the Washington, D.C., area for more than ten years.

“It’s normal to feel a monumental sense of loss, to feel stressed, sad, or overwhelmed,” says Marosek. “Don’t chastise yourself for feeling this way.” Facing and accepting your emotions can help you move beyond them.

Don’t blame yourself. Resist the temptation to get angry at yourself or to listen to the little voice in your head that’s saying, “I shouldn’t have waited; I’m being punished for having that abortion; I should have lost more weight or taken better care of my health; I shouldn’t have assumed that I could have children when I wanted” or whatever negative thoughts you may be having.

People can get caught in negative thinking patterns that only make matters worse, says Yakov M. Epstein, a psychologist at Rutgers University and co-author of Getting Pregnant When You Thought You Couldn’t: “Instead of berating yourself, look forward to how you and your partner are going to manage the situation.”

When you start feeling like you “should have” or “could have,” remind yourself that your fertility problem is not your fault. Even if you could have made different decisions in the past, they’re behind you. Concentrate on your future.

Work as a team with your partner. You and your mate should help each other through this time (and definitely not blame each other for your difficulty getting pregnant).

This doesn’t mean you need to feel the same thing at the same time — that’s one of the most common pitfalls for couples facing fertility problems. It does mean paying attention to what your partner’s going through. “If you’re taking care of each other emotionally, you can unite to fight the problem,” says Marosek.

Work together to find practical ways to share the burden. If you’re undergoing treatment, he can take care of the insurance papers. Or if he needs injected therapy, you can administer the shots.

Educate yourself. Read as much as you can about fertility problems and ask questions of your doctor and other couples in your situation.

Staying educated is especially important when you’re dealing with a fertility problem because the technologies behind the treatments are complicated and change quickly. “You’ve got to understand what’s happening medically,” says Epstein, “or you won’t be able to make informed choices.”

See our resource guide for a list of books, Web sites, and organizations that can help. Learn the basics by starting at the beginning of our Fertility Problems area.

Set limits on how long you’re willing to try. Some couples decide from the get-go that they won’t go to extreme measures to have a baby. Others spend years and thousands of dollars exhausting all of their treatment options.

No one can tell you when to stop trying to conceive — that’s a decision you need to make with your partner and doctor — but you’ll feel more in control of your life if you start thinking in advance about how far you’re willing to go to get pregnant.

Start by discussing your medical odds of getting pregnant, which treatments you’re not willing to try, and your end goal. (For more help with this choice, read about making the decision to end fertility treatment.)

Decide how much you’re willing to pay. With in vitro fertilization (IVF) averaging $12,400 a cycle, it’s no wonder couples feel anxious about money, especially since women often need to go through multiple cycles before becoming pregnant.

To cope with the anxiety caused by the high costs of treatment, sit down and develop a financial plan. Start with your insurance: Find out exactly what it does and doesn’t cover. If it covers some or all of your treatments, decide which one of you will monitor the paperwork and negotiate with the insurance company.

Then look at all your assets and determine how much you can spend and on which treatments. “You should always have a plan B,” says Alice Domar, a psychologist and assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology at Harvard University Medical School who specializes in helping couples with fertility problems. “Because nothing, especially with fertility treatments, is certain.”

Get support from professionals and others with fertility problems. Society often fails to recognize the grief caused by infertility, so those denied parenthood tend to hide their sorrow, which only increases their feelings of shame and isolation.

“Finding other people who are going through the same thing can help you see that fertility problems are widespread and your disappointment is understandable,” says Linda Klempner, a clinical psychologist and mental health consultant at Women’s Health Counseling and Psychotherapy in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Connect with others who can relate on one of our Fertility Problems bulletin boards.

If you’d like to talk to a therapist, look for one who understands reproductive medicine. “Fertility problems are very complex, and if a therapist does not understand the medical issues, he or she won’t be able to help,” says Epstein. Look for a referral through RESOLVE, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, or the InterNational Council on Infertility Information.

Just say no to baby-focused activities. If certain gatherings or celebrations are too painful for you — if all your siblings had babies in the last two years, say, or you keep getting invited to baby showers — give yourself permission to decline the invitation or at least to have a good cry afterward.

To avoid hurt feelings, send a gift but choose children’s books or an online gift certificate to save yourself a troubling trip to the toy store or baby boutique.

Balance optimism and realism. “You need to be optimistic to go through a procedure,” says Epstein, “but if you’re too hopeful — if your hope is unrealistic — you’ll be setting yourself up for a huge fall.” By keeping current on the technology and your diagnosis, you can get a good handle on what chance of success you have with each treatment.

The array of medical technologies available today leads many couples to keep trying month after month, year after year. But about a third of couples treated for fertility problems won’t go on to have a biological child, and often they must make peace with that before they can move on with their lives. Staying realistic can help you make smart choices as you work your way through the emotional minefield of treatment.

Take care of yourself by pursuing other interests. Being treated for a fertility problem can feel like a full- or at least part-time job, so it’s important to keep up with some of the activities or hobbies that bring you pleasure.

“It won’t be easy,” says Marosek, “especially if you’re doing something like going in for a blood test every other day, but look for ways to take care of yourself.” She recommends that people get a massage, have a manicure — anything that can give them relief from the focus on fertility treatment.

If your old activities are painful — maybe all your friends are parents now — look for new diversions. If hiking sounds appealing, do that. Or take a class — painting, dance, or something else that’s always tempted you.

And remember, laughter is one of the best healers. See a funny movie, head out to a comedy club, and reread your favorite funny novel.

by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board
Last updated: August 2006

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When you are experiencing infertility, communicating with family and friends can be difficult and challenging. Even the most caring relative or friend may offer a “helpful” suggestion that will appear wildly insensitive to you.

Here are some tips for talking about infertility with family and friends, if you decide to do so.

  • Decide how much detail you and your partner want to share. Respect each other’s need for privacy about certain details.
  • It may help to rehearse exactly what you are going to say. Decide on specific words or phrases to use, such as of ”infertility” or “we are trying to get pregnant and seem to be having a problem”
  • Pick a time to talk when people are not rushed or distracted. Make sure it is a private place where you won’t feel embarrassed to show emotion.
  • Explain that infertility is a life crisis, and that 1 in 8 couples, or more than 7 million people experience it
  • Let them know how they can support you—whether you want phone calls, questions, etc.
  • Explain that you may need a break from family gatherings, and that it isn’t about them—it’s about using your energy wisely.
  • Tell them that you will share results about a treatment or procedure when you feel up to it, and not to ask about pregnancy tests or treatment results.

The following are scenarios that many of our members have found themselves in and responses you can use when you are asked a sensitive question.

What they said…
When are you going to stop concentrating on your career and start a family?

Response A:
“I don’t believe my job and a family are mutually exclusive. My career is advancing, and I’m very proud of my work. When we feel the time is right, we will consider starting our family.”

Response B:
“Right now I have two careers: one is my job which you know about and the other is trying to become pregnant. You probably wouldn’t believe how exhausting and time-consuming infertility treatment can be; it really feels like a second job.”

What they said…
“You used to talk about combining a career and a family. How are those plans coming along? Will we ever get to be grandparents?”

Response:
“I truly hope that someday you will have grandchildren. Whether I have children biologically or through adoption, I look forward to sharing that happiness with you.”

What they said…
“I wish you’d take one of my kids—they drive my absolutely crazy!”

Response A:
“Oh thanks, then they’d drive me crazy!”

Response B:
“I know that parenting is a really difficult job, but I’m really looking forward to that challenge and experience.”

What they said…
“You can always adopt.”

Response A:
“Adoption is an option I am considering. I have to resolve some medical issues and must grieve the loss of the possibility of not having a biological child before considering adoption.”

Response B:
“I have considered adoption very carefully and have decided it is not for me, and am considering a childfree life, if I am unable to conceive a child.”

How to deal when someone close is pregnant “Guess what? I’m pregnant!”

These are the hardest words to hear from a friend or relative. The best you can do with this one is explain why you are unable to celebrate wholeheartedly.

Response A (keep it short and sweet):
“That is great news. Congratulations.”

Response B:
“I’m happy for you, but it is difficult to hear when I cannot get pregnant. That is a really tough time for me, so please understand if I am unable to attend your shower or listen to your happy moments. I am working through my infertility, and the pain is still great.”

Resolve.org

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We hope you’re not consuming a lot of saturated animal fats and milk products containing saturated fat. But if you are, they could be causing problems for your brain function, according to recent studies.

A study from the University of Kuopioin in Finland found that higher saturated fat intake from milk products and spreads during midlife may be associated with poorer cognitive function, increased risk of clinical mild cognitive impairment later in life, and poorer memory.

The saturated fat issue is one reason why you won’t find milk products in our recommended diet in The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility.

In the Finnish study, those who consumed fish and polyunsaturated fats (oils from plant material and fish) had better cognitive function and memory.

Another study, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, showed that “higher intakes of saturated and trans fat since midlife…were each highly associated with worse cognitive decline” in women with Type 2 diabetes. (Since diabetes is an end point for a significant proportion of women with PCOS, this information may apply to you.)

For more information about saturated fats and trans fats, please refer to Section 6 of our PCOS diet book.

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Setbacks and frustrations are a part of everyday life. Sometimes it’s really easy to slip into a negative mindset and look at things from the perspective of “what I don’t have”.

The problem is that a negative mindset impairs your ability to effectively deal with infertilty. For one thing, it may cause an increase in stress hormones, which can worsen PCOS-related symptoms or infertility issues. A negative outlook can also contribute to depression.

It’s natural to focus on what went wrong in your day and forget about what went right. A good way to counteract this tendency is to focus on what’s right in your life and the things you can be grateful for.

Start a gratitude journal and, each day, write down five things that you’re thankful for. Do this for at least two weeks and notice how much better you feel.

Take any notebook and turn it into a journal that’ll be a record of all the things that make you happy.

Fill the first few pages of your journal with the following wonderful details about:

Positive thinking has power and practicality.

1. Your family.

Think about why your family members are special to you. Is your mom funny? Is your dad an advice champ? Is your sister sweet? If your family treasures conversations over dinner, then write that down. You could also highlight the traits that your clan is famous for. Think about the things that make you proud to be part of your family.

2. Your friends.

What endears your friends to you? Do they make you laugh when you’re down? Do they keep your feet on the ground? Remember the times when you realized that the bond you share had a profound effect in your life. Pick moments where your friends proved that they would be there for you no matter what.

3. Your home.

The place you live in may not be perfect, but surely there are things you love about it. Maybe you take pride making your home livable, comfortable or stylish? Think about the memories that you made in your home. Did you have an impromptu party with your friends one night? Did you have a blast trying to paint your walls? Every home has happy moments that should be relived.

4. Your work.

Work is often associated with stress. But that’s not all there is to it. Your job is where you acquire new skills. You get a chance to learn from a mentor and, perhaps, be one yourself. You also bond with the people you work with. Your workplace offers a lot of silver linings despite deadlines, marathon meetings or difficult clients. Write down what makes your workday worth it. Is it the lunchtime chats with your workmates? Or is it the sheer joy of loving what you do? In this way, you’ll see your office as a happy place. Write down the things that make you look forward to work.

5. Your neighbors.

Even if you aren’t that chummy with your neighbors, they play a part in making your life pleasant. Maybe the mother next door always tells her kids not to bother you when you go out for your run. Perhaps, the nice man two doors down recommended some reliable dog walkers to you. Or maybe you like the fact that the family living across the street just minds their own business. These are neighborly niceties that you may overlook.

You can go on to write about the things that you’re grateful for in other aspects of your life. You’ll realize that your blessings outweigh the setbacks.

You’ll see that your life is actually more wonderful than you think. The fact that you have so many good things going for you will help you keep your chin up. You only need to go through the pages of your gratitude journal when you’re feeling blue.

And it will help you better manage your infertility issues too!

The PCOS Review

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Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. More than five million people of childbearing age in the United States experience infertility. Yet, as a society, we are woefully uninformed about how to best provide emotional support for our loved ones during this painful time.

Infertility is, indeed, a very painful struggle. The pain is similar to the grief over losing a loved one, but it is unique because it is a recurring grief. When a loved one dies, he isn’t coming back. There is no hope that he will come back from the dead. You must work through the stages of grief, accept that you will never see this person again, and move on with your life.

The grief of infertility is not so cut and dry. Infertile people grieve the loss of the baby that they may never know. They grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes. But, each month, there is the hope that maybe that baby will be conceived after all. No matter how hard they try to prepare themselves for bad news, they still hope that this month will be different. Then, the bad news comes again, and the grief washes over the infertile couple anew. This process happens month after month, year after year. It is like having a deep cut that keeps getting opened right when it starts to heal.

As the couple moves into infertility treatments, the pain increases while the bank account depletes. Most infertility treatments involve using hormones, which alter the user’s moods. (That statement is like calling a lion a cat-my husband would tell you that the side effect is insanity!) The tests are invasive and embarrassing to both parties, and you feel like the doctor has taken over your bedroom. And for all of this discomfort, you pay a lot of money. Infertility treatments are expensive, and most insurance companies do not cover the costs. So, in addition to the pain of not conceiving a baby each month, the couple pays out anywhere from $300 to five figures, depending upon the treatment used.

A couple will eventually resolve the infertility problem in one of three ways:

  • They will eventually conceive a baby.
  • They will stop the infertility treatments and choose to live without children.
  • They will find an alternative way to parent, such as by adopting a child or becoming a foster parent.

Reaching a resolution can take years, so your infertile loved ones need your emotional support during this journey. Most people don’t know what to say, so they wind up saying the wrong thing, which only makes the journey so much harder for their loved ones. Knowing what not to say is half of the battle to providing support.

Don’t Tell Them to Relax

Everyone knows someone who had trouble conceiving but then finally became pregnant once she “relaxed.” Couples who are able to conceive after a few months of “relaxing” are not infertile. By definition, a couple is not diagnosed as “infertile” until they have tried unsuccessfully to become pregnant for a full year. In fact, most infertility specialists will not treat a couple for infertility until they have tried to become pregnant for a year. This year weeds out the people who aren’t infertile but just need to “relax.” Those that remain are truly infertile.

Comments such as “just relax” or “try going on a cruise” create even more stress for the infertile couple, particularly the woman. The woman feels like she is doing something wrong when, in fact, there is a good chance that there is a physical problem preventing her from becoming pregnant.

These comments can also reach the point of absurdity. As a couple, my husband and I underwent two surgeries, numerous inseminations, hormone treatments, and four years of poking and prodding by doctors. Yet, people still continued to say things like, “If you just relaxed on a cruise . . .” Infertility is a diagnosable medical problem that must be treated by a doctor, and even with treatment, many couples will NEVER successfully conceive a child. Relaxation itself does not cure medical infertility.

Don’t Minimize the Problem

Failure to conceive a baby is a very painful journey. Infertile couples are surrounded by families with children. These couples watch their friends give birth to two or three children, and they watch those children grow while the couple goes home to the silence of an empty house. These couples see all of the joy that a child brings into someone’s life, and they feel the emptiness of not being able to experience the same joy.

Comments like, “Just enjoy being able to sleep late . . . .travel . . etc.,” do not offer comfort. Instead, these comments make infertile people feel like you are minimizing their pain. You wouldn’t tell somebody whose parent just died to be thankful that he no longer has to buy Father’s Day or Mother’s Day cards. Losing that one obligation doesn’t even begin to compensate for the incredible loss of losing a parent. In the same vein, being able to sleep late or travel does not provide comfort to somebody who desperately wants a child.

Don’t Say There Are Worse Things That Could Happen

Along the same lines, don’t tell your friend that there are worse things that she could be going through. Who is the final authority on what is the “worst” thing that could happen to someone? Is it going through a divorce? Watching a loved one die? Getting raped? Losing a job?

Different people react to different life experiences in different ways. To someone who has trained his whole life for the Olympics, the “worst” thing might be experiencing an injury the week before the event. To someone who has walked away from her career to become a stay-at-home wife for 40 years, watching her husband leave her for a younger woman might be the “worst” thing. And, to a woman whose sole goal in life has been to love and nurture a child, infertility may indeed be the “worst” thing that could happen.

People wouldn’t dream of telling someone whose parent just died, “It could be worse: both of your parents could be dead.” Such a comment would be considered cruel rather than comforting. In the same vein, don’t tell your friend that she could be going through worse things than infertility.

Don’t Say They Aren’t Meant to Be Parents

One of the cruelest things anyone ever said to me is, “Maybe God doesn’t intend for you to be a mother.” How incredibly insensitive to imply that I would be such a bad mother that God felt the need to divinely sterilize me. If God were in the business of divinely sterilizing women, don’t you think he would prevent the pregnancies that end in abortions? Or wouldn’t he sterilize the women who wind up neglecting and abusing their children? Even if you aren’t religious, the “maybe it’s not meant to be” comments are not comforting. Infertility is a medical condition, not a punishment from God or Mother Nature.

Don’t Ask Why They Aren’t Trying IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method in which the woman harvests multiple eggs, which are then combined with the man’s sperm in a petri dish. This is the method that can produce multiple births. People frequently ask, “Why don’t you just try IVF?” in the same casual tone they would use to ask, “Why don’t you try shopping at another store?”

There are many reasons why a couple would choose not to pursue this option. Here are a few of them.

IVF is Expensive with Low Odds

One cycle of IVF is very expensive. With all of the hype in the news, many people assume that IVF is a sure thing when, in fact, the odds of success for each cycle are low. Most couples cannot afford to try for one month, much less for multiple times. Considering that it also costs a significant amount of money to adopt a baby, many couples opt for the “sure thing” rather then risking their money on much lower odds.

IVF is Physically Taxing

Undergoing IVF treatments is very rigorous. The woman must inject shots into her thigh daily to cause her ovaries to superovulate. The drugs used are very taxing on the woman, and they can cause her to be become extremely emotional.

IVF Raises Ethical Issues

Ironically, couples who undergo IVF to become parents may have to selectively abort one or more fetuses if multiple eggs are fertilized. Many couples cannot bring themselves to abort a baby when they have worked so hard to become parents. If the couple chooses not to selectively abort, they run the risk of multiple births.

Don’t Offer Unsolicited Opinions If They Are Trying IVF

On the flip side of the coin, don’t offer unsolicited advice to your friends who do choose to try IVF. For many couples, IVF is the only way they will ever give birth to a baby. This is a huge decision for them to make, for all of the reasons I outlined above.

If the couple has resolved any ethical issues, don’t muddy the waters. IVF is a gray area in many ethical circles, and many of our moral leaders don’t yet know how to answer the ethical questions that have arisen from this new technology. If the couple has resolved these issues already, you only make it harder by raising the ethical questions again. Respect their decision, and offer your support. If you can’t offer your support due to ethical differences of opinion, then say nothing.

A couple who chooses the IVF route has a hard, expensive road ahead, and they need your support more than ever. The hormones are no cakewalk, and the financial cost is enormous. Your friend would not be going this route if there were an easier way, and the fact that she is willing to endure so much is further proof of how much she truly wants to parent a child. The hormones will make her more emotional, so offer her your support and keep your questions to yourself.

Don’t Play Doctor

Once your infertile friends are under a doctor’s care, the doctor will run them through numerous tests to determine why they aren’t able to conceive. There a numerous reasons that a couple may not be able to conceive. Here are a few of them:

  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Cysts
  • Endometriosis
  • Low hormone levels
  • Low “normal form” sperm count
  • Low progesterone level
  • Low sperm count
  • Low sperm motility
  • Thin uterine walls

Infertility is a complicated problem to diagnose, and reading an article or book on infertility will not make you an “expert” on the subject. Let your friends work with their doctor to diagnose and treat the problem. Your friends probably already know more about the causes and solutions of infertility than you will ever know.

You may feel like you are being helpful by reading up on infertility, and there is nothing wrong with learning more about the subject. The problem comes when you try to “play doctor” with your friends. They already have a doctor with years of experience in diagnosing and treating the problem. They need to work with and trust their doctor to treat the problem. You only complicate the issue when you throw out other ideas that you have read about. The doctor knows more about the causes and solutions; let your friends work with their doctor to solve the problem.

Don’t Be Crude

It is appalling that I even have to include this paragraph, but some of you need to hear this-Don’t make crude jokes about your friend’s vulnerable position. Crude comments like “I’ll donate the sperm” or “Make sure the doctor uses your sperm for the insemination” are not funny, and they only irritate your friends.

Don’t Complain About Your Pregnancy

This message is for pregnant women-Just being around you is painful for your infertile friends. Seeing your belly grow is a constant reminder of what your infertile friend cannot have. Unless an infertile women plans to spend her life in a cave, she has to find a way to interact with pregnant women. However, there are things you can do as her friend to make it easier.

The number one rule is DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT YOUR PREGNANCY. I understand from my friends that, when you are pregnant, your hormones are going crazy and you experience a lot of discomfort, such as queasiness, stretch marks, and fatigue. You have every right to vent about the discomforts to any one else in your life, but don’t put your infertile friend in the position of comforting you.

Your infertile friend would give anything to experience the discomforts you are enduring because those discomforts come from a baby growing inside of you. When I heard a pregnant woman complain about morning sickness, I would think, “I’d gladly throw up for nine straight months if it meant I could have a baby.” When a pregnant woman would complain about her weight gain, I would think, “I would cut off my arm if I could be in your shoes.”

I managed to go to baby showers and hospitals to welcome my friends’ new babies, but it was hard. Without exception, it was hard. Stay sensitive to your infertile friend’s emotions, and give her the leeway that she needs to be happy for you while she cries for herself. If she can’t bring herself to hold your new baby, give her time. She isn’t rejecting you or your new baby; she is just trying to work her way through her pain to show sincere joy for you. The fact that she is willing to endure such pain in order to celebrate your new baby with you speaks volumes about how much your friendship means to her.

Don’t Treat Them Like They Are Ignorant

For some reason, some people seem to think that infertility causes a person to become unrealistic about the responsibilities of parenthood. I don’t follow the logic, but several people told me that I wouldn’t ache for a baby so much if I appreciated how much responsibility was involved in parenting.

Let’s face it-no one can fully appreciate the responsibilities involved in parenting until they are, themselves, parents. That is true whether you successfully conceived after one month or after 10 years. The length of time you spend waiting for that baby does not factor in to your appreciation of responsibility. If anything, people who have been trying to become pregnant longer have had more time to think about those responsibilities. They have also probably been around lots of babies as their friends started their families.

Perhaps part of what fuels this perception is that infertile couples have a longer time to “dream” about what being a parent will be like. Like every other couple, we have our fantasies-my child will sleep through the night, would never have a tantrum in public, and will always eat his vegetables. Let us have our fantasies. Those fantasies are some of the few parent-to-be perks that we have-let us have them. You can give us your knowing looks when we discover the truth later.

Don’t Gossip About Your Friend’s Condition

Infertility treatments are very private and embarrassing, which is why many couples choose to undergo these treatments in secret. Men especially are very sensitive to letting people know about infertility testing, such as sperm counts. Gossiping about infertility is not usually done in a malicious manner. The gossipers are usually well-meaning people who are only trying to find out more about infertility so they can help their loved ones.

Regardless of why you are sharing this information with someone else, it hurts and embarrasses your friend to find out that Madge the bank teller knows what your husband’s sperm count is and when your next period is expected. Infertility is something that should be kept as private as your friend wants to keep it. Respect your friend’s privacy, and don’t share any information that your friend hasn’t authorized.

Don’t Push Adoption (Yet)

Adoption is a wonderful way for infertile people to become parents. (As an adoptive parent, I can fully vouch for this!!) However, the couple needs to work through many issues before they will be ready to make an adoption decision. Before they can make the decision to love a “stranger’s baby,” they must first grieve the loss of that baby with Daddy’s eyes and Mommy’s nose. Adoption social workers recognize the importance of the grieving process. When my husband and I went for our initial adoption interview, we expected the first question to be, “Why do you want to adopt a baby?” Instead, the question was, “Have you grieved the loss of your biological child yet?” Our social worker emphasized how important it is to shut one door before you open another.

You do, indeed, need to grieve this loss before you are ready to start the adoption process. The adoption process is very long and expensive, and it is not an easy road. So, the couple needs to be very sure that they can let go of the hope of a biological child and that they can love an adopted baby. This takes time, and some couples are never able to reach this point. If your friend cannot love a baby that isn’t her “own,” then adoption isn’t the right decision for her, and it is certainly not what is best for the baby.

Mentioning adoption in passing can be a comfort to some couples. (The only words that ever offered me comfort were from my sister, who said, “Whether through pregnancy or adoption, you will be a mother one day.”) However, “pushing” the issue can frustrate your friend. So, mention the idea in passing if it seems appropriate, and then drop it. When your friend is ready to talk about adoption, she will raise the issue herself.

So, what can you say to your infertile friends? Unless you say “I am giving you this baby,” there is nothing you can say that will erase their pain. So, take that pressure off of yourself. It isn’t your job to erase their pain, but there is a lot you can do to lesson the load. Here are a few ideas.

Let Them Know That You Care

The best thing you can do is let your infertile friends know that you care. Send them cards. Let them cry on your shoulder. If they are religious, let them know you are praying for them. Offer the same support you would offer a friend who has lost a loved one. Just knowing they can count on you to be there for them lightens the load and lets them know that they aren’t going through this alone.

Remember Them on Mother’s Day

With all of the activity on Mother’s Day, people tend to forget about women who cannot become mothers. Mother’s Day is an incredibly painful time for infertile women. You cannot get away from it-There are ads on the TV, posters at the stores, church sermons devoted to celebrating motherhood, and all of the plans for celebrating with your own mother and mother-in-law.

Mother’s Day is an important celebration and one that I relish now that I am a mother. However, it was very painful while I was waiting for my baby. Remember your infertile friends on Mother’s Day, and send them a card to let them know you are thinking of them. They will appreciate knowing that you haven’t “forgotten” them.

Support Their Decision to Stop Treatments

No couple can endure infertility treatments forever. At some point, they will stop. This is an agonizing decision to make, and it involves even more grief. Even if the couple chooses to adopt a baby, they must still first grieve the loss of that baby who would have had mommy’s nose and daddy’s eyes.

Once the couple has made the decision to stop treatments, support their decision. Don’t encourage them to try again, and don’t discourage them from adopting, if that is their choice. Once the couple has reached resolution (whether to live without children, adopt a child, or become foster parents), they can finally put that chapter of their lives behind them. Don’t try to open that chapter again.

By Vita Alligood-resolve.org

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Of late, doctors are seeing increasing numbers of employees of the IT sector coming in with problems conceiving. “Over the last few years, the numbers of young couples we get from this sector has been on the rise,’’ said Dr Jeyarani Kamaraj, infertility expert at the Aakash Fertility Centre and Hospital. While there has been no official study or exploration into this, statistics from individual hospitals show a definite increase. GG Hospital has seen a gradual increase in numbers over the last three years with the figure touching 250 last year.“Their high pressure jobs, night shifts and stress – all seem to lead to a number of problems ending with infertility,’’ said Dr Priya Selvaraj.It begins with delaying of the first child, say doctors. When the couple does decide to have a baby, a combination of other factors makes it difficult.“We had a couple who worked two different shifts at two different IT companies. They barely saw each other and had no time for a healthy marital relationship. Deadlines were always on their minds and they ate out three times a day,’’ said Dr Kamaraj.Dr Selavraj feels if IT companies extract a lot of work out of their employees, they should also ensure their health and well-being. “Gyms for exercise and a canteen where they get nutritious food and not junk should be part of every company,’’ she said. This gets coupled with the intense anxiety of not being able to conceive and familial pressure to do so. “All of this can lead to a hormonal imbalance, which in turn affects their fertility,’’ said Dr Kamaraj.

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More men may be firing blanks

Increasingly, doctors are seeing a rise in male infertility as well.“Male infertility now contributes 35 to 40 per cent of all cases that we see,’’ said Dr Selvaraj. Low sperm count, erectile dysfunction and a low libido could all lead to low fertility levels, she said. While Dr Dinakaran placed the figure at 30 per cent, she too agreed that this seemed to be on the rise. More men were becoming diabetic and getting hypertension at a young age, often in their early thirties, Dr Dinakaran said.Incidence of diabetes in the city now stands at nearly 17 per cent. “Earlier it always used to be women who would be blamed for the inability to conceive, but families are beginning to realise that there could be problems with men as well. At least, in cities, the realization has sunk in. “In rural areas, even now, the woman is held responsible. The man can always marry again and it is socially acceptable,’’ said Dr Dinakaran, relating the case of a man who married three sisters all of whom were unable to conceive. In the end, a hospital test confirmed his infertility.“The work environment, pressure and the intensely stressed out lives men lead – all contribute towards this. If they have diabetes or hypertension, it just adds to the difficulty in conception,’’ said Dr Dinakaran, adding that expectations were now higher than ever. Lack of a nutritious diet and exercise exacerbated this. Heat generated from sitting too close to computers or laptops may also be a possible factor, Dr Dinakaran added.

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