Whether you’ve always dreamed of being a parent or started to yearn for a baby later in life, having a child of your own can be a roller-coaster ride of emotions, and this is particularly true when you struggle with infertility and all that it entails. Having spent a lot of time with couples on their journey to have a baby, I thought that it would be helpful to note my observations on how it impacts your relationships and how you can be supportive of your spouse on this journey and trust the clinical aspects to a fertility expert who has delivered positive results in coping with this issue.
How Infertility Affects Your Marriage
Even the most solid, loving marriage can suffer when infertility raises its ugly head. Neha and Ankur are a couple that were often admired by many of their friends due to their caring relationship. At first, they started to question which party was "defective." Once the tests indicated that Neha was the one with the fertility problem, Ankur felt guilty, but deep inside, he was secretly relieved it wasn't his fault.
Over time, couples typically unite in their efforts to do whatever it takes to create a new life together, but after months, and sometimes years, of having sex on a rigid timetable, the romance may fade. The lack of spontaneity — having intercourse whether they are in the mood or not — the stress, financial burdens and medical interventions all start to take a toll on an otherwise happy marriage.
Frequent communication is the key to holding your marriage together through this journey. Openly sharing your frustrations with each other helps heal the emotional wounds that may otherwise fester. Talk with a trusted friend or relative about your struggles and frustrations. This is a wise way to gain a fresh perspective and to receive encouragement.
Your Other Relationships
Suchitra and Pavan found themselves avoiding certain situations. They would make an excuse not to attend a child’s birthday party or an occasion where they needed to support their nieces and nephews in their school events. They found excuses to avoid attending baby showers and going to the park, zoo or other places where they often saw young families. It hurt them both emotionally to be around happy families and their adorable children.
They started considering all the joy they were missing by isolating themselves. They resolved to enjoy life fully by being the best aunt or uncle they could be and to be a caring adult in the children’s lives of their friends.
Don’t ever force yourself to go to a gathering with small children if you aren’t feeling strong emotionally. It’s perfectly understandable to sometimes say no, but it shouldn’t become a habit. Cut yourself some slack; if you need to buy a gift for a baby shower, new parents or a small child, ask one of your friends to pick up something for you, or shop online. This prevents you from being bombarded by beautiful infant clothes, bedding and other child-centered gifts.
Coping with the Never-Ending Questions
Khusboo and Prashant became weary when simple curiosity made the people in their lives ask when they were going to start a family. After discussing this with a close family friend they gained a new perspective. They learned that this subject is often a way to make conversation and wasn't meant to make them feel inadequate. Nevertheless, to both of them it seemed as if the person was implying that they didn't want to have children, and if so, “Why not?”
You may be tempted to tell your acquaintances all your intimate secrets and regale them with stories that show how hard you've tried to have a baby. This isn’t necessarily a wise option. If you don’t want to hear the question, “Well, do you have exciting news to share?” every single month, then don’t confide in them. If you don’t want their constant and unsolicited advice, keep this matter to yourself.
The best answer is a simple one, such as “You'll be the first to know” or “That’s a question I don't feel like discussing.” The choice is yours; you don't have to answer a question that is no one else's business.
90% of couples conceive within twelve months of unprotected sex. If you are concerned that you have not conceived yet, it may then be a good idea to seek the counsel of an expert who can provide you with appropriate options.
Couples having trouble conceiving may increase their chances of getting pregnant through assisted fertility techniques. Causes of infertility in women can include endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, hormonal imbalance, problems with ovulation, tubal dysfunction, hostile cervical mucus or idiopathic causes (unknown cause).
Fertility treatment can be quite expensive, so, it may be a wise idea that you explore all the avenues possible before spending a huge amount, which may not be necessary. Surgery may be an answer if you are suffering from Endometriosis, PCOS, or fibroids. On the other hand, fertility drugs may be all you need to become pregnant within few months.
Other alternatives include in vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Obtaining donor eggs and embryos, having a gestational surrogacy or a gamete intrafallopian transfer are other effective ways to become parents.
For women with blocked fallopian tubes or unexplained infertility, the best treatment is IVF. For men with low sperm counts, ICSI, a specialized form of IVF where an individual sperm is injected directly into the egg, is usually recommended.
Some couples forego expensive testing and treatments because they simply want to become parents, and it doesn’t matter if the baby is their biological child; instead, they opt for adoption or become foster parents to many children.
Whatever way you and your spouse choose to become parents is a personal and heartfelt decision, and the result is a gift that lasts a lifetime!
Note: Although the names have been changed to protect the privacy of the couples, rest assured that these are real stories and common experiences for those on the roller coaster ride of infertility.