Fertility challenges can affect any woman – the selection criteria doesn’t give a toss about age, skin colour, education, economic status or whether a woman is kind, mean, the life of the party or an introverted bookish type.
Fertility challenges dance with gay abandon on the entire concept of discrimination.
Ph Fertility challenges tip the axis of a woman’s world, opens it’s gaping jaws and engulfs not just the woman, but the contents of her entire life down it’s gullet.
Like any life stressor, relationships stretch and strain under adversity, and when a couple struggle to have a baby, this is a significant life stressor. But there are key factors relevant to fertility challenges alone. For instance, infertility, miscarriage and simply not falling pregnant can bring an insurmountable grief into a woman’s life. Normally grief is about the past - the loss of a previous pregnancy, for example, but fertility grief has often been called disenfranchised grief, because it can be future tense and also goes unacknowledged. Then there is the time travelling, as every moment of a woman’s day becomes consumed with the past and the future – grieving what was and yearning for what could be. All this adds up to is a heck of a lot of muddy footprints marking a woman’s relationship.
Meet Steve and May, who have been trying to fall pregnant for 8 months. They are having an evening meal and were just chatting about their day. Suddenly May ponders aloud, “What would our lives have been like if we were parents today, do you think?” Steve wonders, chewing his steak but before he’s taken another mouthful May has slid into the past, “How did we not fall pregnant this month?” Steve doesn’t have time to answer as May sidesteps, slipping deftly into the future, “Lets eat better next month, lets start a cleanse.” She suggests.
Steve just wants to eat his steak but he nods at his wife trying to keep up. He’s not got jetlag for a trip he didn’t need to leave the table for.
Sharon Covington, Assistant Clinical Professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, is director of psychological support at Shady Grove Fertility and is an active professional member of Resolve, the National Infertility Association in the United States. She has noticed key differences in men and women’s coping mechanisms and is passionate about bringing fertility and relationships out of darkness of shame and into the bright sunlight.
She also has some great tips for couples:
Photo credit: Farica Yang on Unsplash
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